Holy Violence

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Thursday of the Second Week of Advent
December 13
Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Isaiah 41:13-20
Psalm 144: 1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab
Matthew 11:11-15

And the Violent Bear It Away

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away” (Mt 11:12). What exactly is Our Lord saying in today’s Gospel? What does Our Lord mean when He tells us that “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away”? Are we, then, to be violent? Is there such a thing as a holy violence?

Swift and Intense Force

The dictionary defines violence as swift and intense force. Although the word has acquired a negative connotation in common usage, violence is not, of itself, sinful. The moral quality of violence — a swift, and powerful application of energy — derives from the object for which, or against which, it is expended. Violence can be virtuous. The Kingdom of Heaven is worthy of our violence. All the saints understood this. One who would bear away the Kingdom of Heaven must be prepared to act swiftly, intensely, and forcefully.

Holy Violence

Holy Violence is the virtue opposed to the vice of the spiritual dilly-dallier, the feeble, indecisive, spineless, ineffectual milquetoast. Holy violence is an expression of the virtue of fortitude. It is related to the boldness that comes from the Holy Spirit.

The Tolerance of the Relativists

There are those, even within the Church, who think that peace — or what they would like to call peace — is worth any price. They will go to any length to avoid confrontations, to appear to agree when they disagree, to approve when they disapprove, to keep everyone happy. The moral relativism pandemic in society today fosters this attitude. The relativists would have us believe that there are no absolute truths, that nothing is absolutely wrong or absolutely right. They preach a wishy-washy adaptability to whatever the prevailing trends happen to be, and they call it tolerance. The relativists are forever saying, “To each his own.” The idea of going against the social or political grain fills them with horror. There are no martyrs among them.

Saint John the Baptist

Now look at Saint John the Baptist. A dilly-dallier? Feeble? Indecisive? Spineless? Ineffectual? The patron saint of milquetoasts? Our Lord says, “Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11). He compares John the Baptist to Elijah, the most violent of the prophets.

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Saint Lucy

And Saint Lucy? She could have saved her life in this world, had she not insisted on being altogether more violent than the torturers who took her life by violence. More violent? Yes. More violent, because Saint Lucy applied all the strength of her virginal love swiftly, intensely, and forcefully to bearing away the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thursdays for Priests

Thursday, being the day of the mysteries of the Cenacle, invites us to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and to reparation and intercession for priests. Today, we might consider asking Our Lord to pour out upon His priests the grace of a holy violence for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. The priest who bears away the Kingdom by violence will bring multitudes of souls with him.

The Lion and the Lamb

The violence of the Lion is inseparable from the meekness of the Lamb. One virtue does not cancel out the other. It completes it. Let us approach the Holy Mysteries today with a violent desire. Receive the Lion and become like the Lamb. Receive the Lamb and become like the Lion.

3 Comments

Father you have given us profound hope with your insights on this BLOG, and with the blessed words you share. May we all face the trials and struggles of life here on earth with "Holy Violence". Would you please pray for our parish and our pastor; for many serious issues that are in need of "Holy Violence". Thank you for responding to the Lord's call to the priesthood, and for further heeding the Lord's holy prompting to pray for and make reparation on behalf of your brother priests. You may find encourgement in your efforts for priests through www.opusangelorum.org where faithful souls unite in a Thursday Crusade for Priests. May our Merciful Saviour crown all your efforts for His Kingdom with grace and holy victory!

"There are those, even within the Church, who think that peace — or what they would like to call peace — is worth any price. They will go to any length to avoid confrontations, to appear to agree when they disagree, to approve when they disapprove, to keep everyone happy. The moral relativism pandemic in society today fosters this attitude. The relativists would have us believe that there are no absolute truths, that nothing is absolutely wrong or absolutely right. They preach a wishy-washy adaptability to whatever the prevailing trends happen to be, and they call it tolerance. The relativists are forever saying, “To each his own.? The idea of going against the social or political grain fills them with horror. There are no martyrs among them."

Brilliant. I had to link quote that and link to this post at our group blog.

The Church is called to speak the truth in love, as Scripture puts it, and those who seek peace at any cost or insist on a veneer of "cheerfulness" work against the Holy Ghost's movement among us. He will gust, blow things over, tear out what is not rightly rooted, and prune dearly loved branches of our spiritual life.

In the face of scandal and horror there is within some of the newer ecclesial movements an insistence that everything is well and the Church is absolutely perfect in everything, and they forget that such is not dependent upon declarations or denials of the obvious.

Authenticity and genuine grounding in the Gospel demands a facing of the reality with its failures and successes trusting the words of Our Lord to Dame St. Julian of Norwich that "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." This requires us to realise that what we judge as success or failure may well be the opposite and in any event we should be thinking, speaking, and doing "unto the Lord" and trusting His wounded hands to make something whole and beautiful from all that we offer up to Him.

Please forgive me for going rather long in response, but your post, Father Mark, has provided me with great food for rumination. I am deeply grateful.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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