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Passiontide

HOC PASSIONIS TEMPORE

Christ’s Precious Blood redeemed all mankind, once and for all; past, present and future. It bought us back from our previous ownership by the Devil. Does that mean that we are all saved? Secundum quid.

We are most certainly all redeemed, but that does not mean that we are automatically all saved. We have to lay hold of the redemption won for us by Christ, and so press on towards eventual salvation. We have to believe in salvation, and above all we have to want it. Our wanting is necessary for our salvation. Nobody is ever forced into heaven.

The human propensity for running away from salvation is well illustrated in “The Hound of Heaven” by the Catholic poet Francis Thompson  (1859–1907). Thompson’s desperate and chaotic personal life made him well qualified to write about the habit of avoiding grace.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind;  and in the mist of tears I hid from Him…

[but in spite of everything the Hound of Heaven still presses on]

……Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’

Sooner or later we shall all come face to face with the Lord Who faithfully pursues us down the years. At that meeting, depending on how we have lived, we shall either rush forward to embrace Him with joy, or our guilt and shame will leave us begging for the mountains to fall on us and the hills to cover us.

The Good News is that our guilt and shame can all be dealt with here and now, in this life. They can be dealt with so thoroughly that when we come before our Judge we shall know only the relief of hearing “case dismissed” and the unmerited reward of “peace everlasting”.

The Hound of Heaven pursues us ineluctably. If we have the faintest notion of what makes for our peace, we shall stop running and gratefully accept everything that the Passion of Christ unceasingly offers us.