Friday, January 11, 2008

Tradition: Hour of Mercy

During this Lent, I will be making an effort to dedicate myself to prayer for unity of all Christians during the Hour of Mercy on each Friday: "I write these words during those three hours [noon - 3 pm] today (Friday), the day of the week perpetually consecrated by His crucifixion and death. Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do when we have divided Your Son's Mystical Body." (Bryan Cross at Principium Unitatis)

The Hour of Mercy is the hour of 3pm, when Jesus Christ gave up his spirit and made the final assent of his human will to his Divine will, the will of his Father in Heaven. It is so called because it is the hour when God's justice gave way to His mercy. As Pope Benedict XVI put it in his two encyclicals on love and hope:
We have seen that God's eros for man is also totally agape. This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives. Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God's love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. Israel has committed “adultery” and has broken the covenant; God should judge and repudiate her. It is precisely at this point that God is revealed to be God and not man: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! ... My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst” (Hos 11:8-9). God's passionate love for his people — for humanity — is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice. Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God's love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love. (Deus Caritas Est, n. 10)
God is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ. Both these things — justice and grace — must be seen in their correct inner relationship. (Spe Salvi, n. 44)

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