Question 47c

Is God merciful to all who call upon Him?

If [God] gives such [good things] to sinners what must he have reserved for his faithful ones?  No, no the earth, [nor heaven]… he gives himself who made heaven…He gives Himself who made heaven.  Heaven is beautiful, but even more beautiful is its Maker… In the Eucharist, says St. Augustine, the most perfect sacrifice and the most perfect prayer of reparation are offered by Christ, who prays for us, prays in us, and is prayed to by us… In the sacrament of the altar, [the Church] teaches that she herself is offered in the offering she makes to God.

from St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer by Fr. Ermatinger


God is charity.  Injustice, sin, against Him is not simply infractions against His divine commands but rather a deliberate turning of the individual’s will against that which He will.  The will of God is not simply that the individual does what He will, as if what He wills is external actions, but that the individual becomes what He wills by doing what He commands.  It is through obedience to His commands that we are transformed into that which He wills.  This is the difference between ethics and morals; ethics being conformity to the letter of precepts and morals conformity to the spirit of the precepts.

What is it precisely that God wills for man?  That man achieves his telos, his end.  What is the end of man?  That he receives the divine charity of God and in doing so, glorifies God.  Man, as he was created with a free will, receives this divine charity unwillingly or willingly.  If a man wills not to give his will to God, to exist in a state of disobedience, of sin, his end shall be that of glorifying God by being a recipient of His justice, of His wrath, and a very limited experience of the reception of charity – to exist, though bound in hell, to eternally glorify God against one’s own will.  All are called to glorify God, some are chosen to glorify God.  Those that turn to God, through His grace, in prayer are chosen to receive that which they pray for; mercy to obtain their supernatural end – the reception of divine charity and glorification of God willingly.  This willing to will as God wills is only possible through a supernatural transformation and union of the individual with God, as a man by himself, nor all of men together can not scale the heavens.  Only God can do this. It is He that unites man to Himself by His choice to do so.

God’s mercy, and His justice, are most clearly shown in the most sublime manner by which fallen man comes to glorify and praise Him for all eternality.  The union of man with God is achieved through the incarnation of the Son of the Father, who, as the God-man Jesus, has the fullness of the Holy Spirit dwelling within Him, thus capable of acting as both High Priest and the once and for all sacrificial victim that repairs the injustice done by man’s sins.  This is enough for man to praise the Father for all eternity, but the Father wills for His name to be praised greater still, by the individual man praising the Father not by the praise of a man forgiven,  but by the Son’s own praise as offered through the Holy Spirit.  Man is not meant for heaven, but rather union with God.  How grand this praise!

Though we are now here on this earth, Christ comes to us so that we might now, in this present moment, in our need and our lack, offer to our Heavenly Father, this eternal praise.  Through the individual’s incorporation into the Church, via the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, the individual has a real participation, though incomplete, in Christ.  In the sacrament of the altar, the offering of reparation, the Church, as the Bride of Christ, finds herself offered, and the individual offered as he is united with the Church.  As Christ is offered, humanity is offered, as humanity is offered, the individual who is united to this humanity through having put on Christ, and as being a temple of the Spirit.

Herein is the Father’s will: the offering of the perfect eternal praise by man who wills not his will but that of Christ’s will, to sing the divine praise of God, divine both in subject and object, that is the exclusive right of the divine persons to which the individual, through the greatest of mysteries, greatest of mercy, greatest of charity, is chosen to join in.

This is what happens at the Mass, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.


Mass in the Expiatory Chapel, Lancelot-Théodore Turpin de Crissé, 1830-48