Sunday, October 25, 2015

One of my favorite martyrs ...

Francisco de Zurbarán
Saint John Houghton (detail), 1637-39
Saint John Houghton, O.Cart., (c. 1486 - 4 May 1535) was a Carthusian hermit and Catholic priest, and the first English Catholic martyr to die as a result of the Act of Supremacy by King Henry VIII of England. He was also the first member of his Order to die as a martyr. - Houghton, along with two Carthusians, Fr. Reynolds, and John Haile of Isleworth, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 4 May 1535. Catholic tradition relates that when Houghton was about to be quartered, as the executioner tore open his chest to remove his heart, he prayed, O Jesu, what wouldst thou do with my heart? A painting of the Carthusian Protomartyr by Zurbarán depicts him with his heart in his hand and a noose around his neck.

Today is his feast day.

Something from yesterday's meditation confirmed a sentiment of mine I've carried in my heart most of my life, concerning the psalm verse,

Mercy and truth shall meet;
Justice and peace shall kiss. 

It is from  D. Augustin Guillerand, O. Cart:

"It is there, in the depths of our nothingness, that his mercy and his justice - two things we do not usually associate with one another - meet." - Guillerand

I won't rewrite the entire meditation - it's in the October Magnificat for October 24.

I just want to say this may be many people's problem.  They do not understand God's love and mercy - and insist justice must be meted out before mercy can be received.  I'm not a theologian, but that strikes me as misunderstanding Christ himself - judging as humans judge and not as God.

This is so clear, to me at least, in how many have responded to the disputations at the Synod.  We separate justice and mercy - when in fact, God's justice is so clearly expressed in mercy.

I think the Carthusian explains this here:

"In raising us up from the depths of our fallen state, God has remitted our debt; he has restored his glory and repaired the damage done by sin.  He has truly resumed all his rights over us; he has completely satisfied the demands of that glory; He has done himself full justice. And we must learn to love that splendid glory and to accept generously our wretchedness, which has procured it." - Guillerand

How Thereseian, how Franciscan.

Remember how Therese taught her novices to love their weaknesses?  Recall how Pope Francis speaks about mercy and love - reaching out to the most far away?  See, this is scriptural.  This is doctrinal.  This the meaning of mercy, which Christ tells us over and over to study and understand, and now in these times - to practice.  To put into action.  I often quote Betsy Ten Boom who said, "No pit is so deep his love is not deeper still."  She witnessed to that in the horror of the Nazi camp - where sin seemed to reign as a foretaste of hell.  Yet she encountered Christ - as every sinner does when he falls in even the worst sin - if he only looks next to himself, he sees Christ has fallen there with him - carrying the cross, his teeth biting the dust ...  "No pit so deep - his love is not deeper still."  Justice and mercy have met.

Just a thought.

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Read this instead:



  1. Well said and understood by yours truly. Too, I found much food for thought to feed the soul. I see our Holy Father living out what he says in following our Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder if in so doing, this is where the many are confounded?

    "Mercy and truth shall meet; Justice and peace shall kiss"

    Papa Francis has been preaching this all along and yet ... and yet, he is accused of "watering down the faith, preaching a feel good religion. Too much about mercy and not enough about justice or doctrine!"

    I do not have issues with what he says. I listen and already understand that in order to walk upright before the Lord, I too must be upright both in deed and in thought.

    Perfect Justice is all Merciful as only our Risen Lord can be.

    Thanks again for another great post as we all travel along the Royal Road. <3

  2. From the Napa Valley in I spoiled or what? Zurbaran, and then that quote from St John Houghton on his heart. I will ponder that one for some time and it will appear in homilies. You spoil me too, TJ, and I like it.


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