Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday of Septuagesima Week

The serpent said to the woman: “Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?” Thus opened the conversation which our mother Eve so rashly consents to hold with God’s enemy. She ought to refuse all intercourse with Satan; she does not; and thereby she imperils the salvation of the whole human race.

Let us recall to mind the events that have happened up to this fatal hour. God, in His omnipotence and love, has created two beings, upon whom He has lavished all the riches of His goodness. He has destined them for immortality; and this undying life is to have everything that can make it perfectly happy. The whole of nature is made subject to them. A countless posterity is to come from them, and love them with all the tenderness of grateful children. Nay, this God of goodness who has created them deigns to be on terms of intimacy with them; and such is their simple innocence that this adorable condescension does not seem strange to them. But there is something far beyond all this. He, whom they have hitherto known by favors of an inferior order prepares for them a happiness which surpasses all they could picture with every effort of thought. They must first go through a trial; and if faithful, they will receive the great gift as a recompense they have merited. And this is the gift: God will give them to know Him in Himself, make them partakers of His own glory, and make their happiness infinite and eternal. Yes, this is what God has done, and is preparing to do for these two beings, who but a while ago were nothing.

In return for all these gratuitous and magnificent gifts, God asks of them but one thing: that they acknowledge His dominion over them. Nothing, surely, can be sweeter to them than to make such a return; nothing could be more just. All they are and all they have and all the lovely creation around them has been produced out of nothing by the lavish munificence of this God; they must, then, live for him, faithful, loving, and grateful. He asks them to give Him only one proof of this fidelity, love, and gratitude: He bids them not to eat of the fruit of one single tree. The only return He asks for all the favors He has bestowed upon them is the observance of this easy commandment. His sovereign justice will be satiated by this act of obedience. They ought to accept such terms with hearty readiness, and comply with them with a holy pride, as being not only the tie which will unite them with their God, but the sole means in their power of paying Him what He asks of them.

But there comes another voice, the voice of a creature, and it speaks to the woman: “Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree?” And Eve dares, and has the heart to listen to him that asks why her divine Benefactor has put a command upon her! She can bear to hear the justice of God’s will called in question! Instead of protesting against the sacrilegious words, she tamely answers them! Her God is blasphemed, and she is not indignant! How dearly we shall have to pay for this ungrateful indifference, this indiscretion! “And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.” Thus Eve not only listens to the serpent’s question, she answers him; she converses with the wicked spirit that tempts her. She exposes herself to danger; her fidelity to her Maker is compromised. True, the words she uses show that she has not forgotten His command; but they imply a certain hesitation, which savors of pride and ingratitude.

The spirit of evil finds that he has excited, in this heart, a love of independence; and that if he can but persuade her that she will not suffer from her disobedience, she is his victim. He, therefore, further addresses her with these blasphemous and lying words: “No, you shall not die the death; for God knoweth, that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” What he proposes to Eve is open rebellion. He has enkindled within her that perfidious love of self which is man’s worst evil, and which, if it be indulged, breaks the tie between him and his Creator. Thus the blessings God has bestowed, the obligation of gratitude, personal interest, all are to be disregarded and forgotten. Ungrateful man would become a god; he would imitate the rebel angels: he shall fall as they did.

In Dominica Tyrophagi

Adeadum anima mea infelix, actus tuos hodie defle, memoria recolns priorem in Eden nuditatem, propter quam deliciis et perenni gaudio excidisti.

Come, my poor soul! bewail this day thy deeds. Think within thyself of that sin which made thee naked in Eden, and robbed thee of delight and joy eternal.

Pro multa pietate atque miserationibus, Conditor creaturæ et factor universorum, me pulvere prius animatum una cum angelis tuis te collaudare præcepisti.

Creator of me and of all things! in thy great goodness and mercy, thou, having made me out of dust, and given me a soul, didst command me to unite with the angels in praising thee.

Propter bonitatis divitias, plantas tu, Conditor et Domine, paradisi delicias in Eden, jubens me speciosis jucundisque minimeque caducis fructibus oblectari.

My Maker and Lord! in the riches of thy goodness, thou plantest a paradise of delights in Eden, and biddest me feast on its lovely, sweet, and incorruptible fruits.

Hei mihi! anima mea misera, fruendarum Eden voluptatum faculatem a Deo acceperas, vetitumque tibi ne scientiæ lignum manducares: qua de causa Dei legem violasti?

Woe is me, O my wretched soul! Thy God permitted thee that thou shouldst enjoy the Eden of delights, if thou wouldst obey him and not eat of the tree of knowledge. Wherefore didst thou violate his law?

(Virgo Dei Genitrix, utpote Adami ex genere filia, per gratiam vero Christi Dei Mater, nunc me revoca ex Eden ejectum.)

(O Virgin-Mother of God! Daughter of Adam by nature, but Mother of Christ by grace! recall me now the exile from Eden.)

Serpens dolosus honorem meum quondam mihi invidens, in Evæ auribus delum insusurravit, unde ego deceptus, hei mihi! e vitæ sede exsulavi.

The crafty serpent envying me such honor, whispered his guile into Eve’s ear; and I, alas! deceived by her, was banished from the land of life.

Manu temere extensa, scientiæ lignum degustavi, quod ne contingeren mihi Deus omnino præscripserat, et cum acerbo doloris sensu divinam gloriam exsul amisi.

Rashly stretching forth my hand, I tasted of the tree of knowledge, which God forbade me even to touch: and then, with keen sense of grief, I, an exile, lost the glory of God.

Hei mihi! misera anima mea, quomodo dolum non nosti? Quomodo fraudem et inimici invidiam minime sensisti? Sed mente obtenebrata Conditoris tui mandatum neglexisti.

Alas, miserable man! How came I not to know the snare? How was it that I suspected not the enemy’s craft and envy? My soul was darkened and I set at nought my Creator’s command.

(Spes et protectio mea, O veneranda, quæ sola olim lapsi Adami nuditatem cooperuisti puerperio tuo, rursus, O pura, me incorruptionis veste circumda.)

(O most venerable one! my hope and refuge! who by giving birth to thy Jesus, didst cover the nakedness of fallen Adam, clothe me too, O Virgin, with this incorruptible garb!)

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