under the patronage of St Joseph and St Dominic
By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, remembering Zion;
Two of Our Lord's parables are misunderstood, those of the prodigal son (Luke 15 : 11) and of the vineyard labourers (Matthew 20 : 1). Each contains, as the reader will recognise, a distraction, an apparent injustice, and the hearer may be more moved by the distraction than by the burden.
That of the prodigal son would be better described as the parable of the indulgent father—or even the foolishly indulgent father—, and that of the vineyard labourers as the parable of the generous employer. Each demonstrates the great mercy of God who desires not the death of the sinner but his conversion and salvation.
In Peter Kwasniewski's recent book on the return to the sacred, Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico Press, Kettering Ohio, 2014), there is memorable passage.
“I remember the blessed early mornings I spent at the monastery of Le Barroux in France, watching in the dark Romanesque church as the monks and their acolytes silently processed, one by one, out of the sacristy, each toward a separate side altar, where they began to whisper the prayers of the immortal Mass. The few visitors present would choose a chapel among the many being used, kneel on the hard stone floor, and follow along in their handheld missals, while hearing faintly the tokens of many Masses being said simultaneously in the same vaulted space. I will never forget the moment of consecration at my anonymous monk's chapel, when, in the midst of a quiet as thick and beautiful as I imagine heaven must have in store for us after this noisy world, I heard not only the nearby acolyte's bell ring brightly into the emptiness, but also, and nearly at the same time, a chorus of other acolytes' bells ringing throughout the church as dozens of priests genuflected before the sacred Host and Chalice, and elevated the precious Body and Blood of our Lord in the sight of the Most Blessed Trinity, witnessed by countless angels and few mortal men. I remember being filled with an irrefragable sense that it was the Holy Sacrifice offered by these dutiful monks and others like them that could be the only reason the sun continued to rise and set, the only reason Almighty God had not yet extinguished the life of this guilty planet as he extinguished the life of Sodom and Gomorrah.” (p. 68)
Were the evils committed in the Cities of the Plain worse than the evils which occur hourly in every country on earth today ? Were there among their crimes that cried to heaven for vengeance the systematic murder of the innocent unborn ?
As, daily, we submit ourselves to God's reign by attending Mass in impetration for the living and the dead, we reflect Abraham's plea— “Will you destroy the innocent with the guilty ?” —but we are in a stronger position. We have an advocate whom Abraham had not, God's Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
This is the most important work on earth, our daily attendance at Mass for the salvation of the idle, those who reject God but are, yet, not beyond the reach of His mercy. He alone knows who will accept the employment He offers—at the sixth hour, at the ninth, or at the eleventh. And in His generosity he will give to these, who have not been blessed as have we, also the recompense of eternal beatitude.
27th March, 2016—Easter Sunday