Monday, March 26, 2012

The Sixth Station~Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus~Mercy

Until someone comes to reveal the secret of Christ indwelling the sufferer's soul to him, he cannot see any purpose in his pain. There is only one way to reveal Christ living on in the human heart to those who are ignorant concerning it. That is Veronica's way, through showing Christ's love. When someone comes--maybe a stranger, maybe someone close at home but whose compassion was not guessed before--and reveals Christ's own pity in herself, the hard crust that has contracted the sufferer's heart melts away, and looking into the gentle face of this Veronica of today, the sufferer looks, as it were, into a mirror in which he sees the beauty of Christ reflected at last from his own soul.

Until Veronica came to Him on His way to Calvary, Christ was blinded by blood and sweat and tears. The merciful hands of Veronica wiped the blindness from His eyes; looking into her face, He saw His own beauty reflected in it. He saw His own eyes looking back at Him from hers. She had done this thing in the power in which alone she could do it, the power of Christ's own love.

In the compassion on her lifted face, Christ saw, in the hour of His extreme dereliction, the triumph of His own love for men. He saw His love, radiant, triumphant in her, and in all the Veronicas to come through all time, in them and in those sufferers in whom His own divine beauty would be restored by their compassion.

Caryll Houselander

When I began praying the novena to the Divine Mercy, I formed the habit of praying for people I knew that fit in each day's category. I would pray for someone different on each bead of the chaplet. Most days I had no problem: plenty of priests and religious, scads of souls who have become lukewarm, many devout and faithful souls, but I always had trouble on the 7th day. When I read, "The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy," I understand it to be something more than just loving the mercy that Jesus pours on us and thinking that mercy is pretty cool in general. Surely people who "glorify Jesus' mercy" are people who are actively merciful. I knew lots of people who were charitable and generous with their time and money. They were always ready to help when someone asked, but they seemed to be missing something that we see in Veronica. She had a special ability to see what was needed before it was asked, and a willingness to risk doing whatever was needed even when it was dangerous.

Since then, I've made several friends who exemplify the gift of mercy. They never seem to be too tired or sick to help someone else. They never let fear get in between them and whatever God is calling them to do at the moment. I've known them to literally risk their lives to help someone who was desperate. I have to admit, they make me uncomfortable--not on purpose--it's just that they make me see so clearly how truly lacking I am in this area. And truthfully, I'm not sure that I even have much desire to emulate them. Sometimes I think that maybe I could do just this one small thing or that one, but it frightens me. There seems to be a line there that once crossed is crossed forever. It doesn't seem like it can be done by halves. All I can really do at the moment is pray to be willing to be willing.

Saviour of the world,
take my heart,
which shrinks
from the stark realism
and ugliness of suffering,
and expand it with Your love.
Open it wide
with the fire of Your love,
as a rose is opened
by the heat of the sun.

Drive me by the strength
of Your tenderness
to come close to human pain.
Give me hands.
that are hardened
by pity,
that will dip into any water
and bathe any wound
in mercy.

Lord take my heart
And give me Yours



  1. "...they make me uncomfortable--not on purpose--it's just that they make me see so clearly how truly lacking I am in this area."

    Amen to that.

    CH's view of Veronica is certainly interesting. Still mulling that over.

  2. I've never really thought much about Veronica before at all. That face on the cloth kind of distracts me thinking about much else.

    All of her meditations--they are each about 8 pages long--have something, or several things, that I've never considered. Writing these has been really hard, but I'm glad I'm doing it. I don't think I'll ever pray the stations again in quite the same way.