The student brothers are on retreat the week of August 11-15. Rather than leave the blog dormant, we offer you reflections by and about various Dominican saints for your meditation. Regular blogging will resume on August 18. In the meantime, please remember us in your prayers and be assured of our prayers for you.
From a sermon of Saint Antoninus, bishop
John says in the Book of Revelation: The Lord showed me the Tree of Life on both sides of the river, bearing fruit. Christ crucified is that Tree of Life, which is said to be on both sides of the river, because the Fathers of both the Old and the New Testament were saved through Him. God Himself on the Cross brought forth universal fruits for the salvation of the human race, produced by the wood of the Cross, as we have in a figure. Let us consider four of these fruits as they regard the human race. The first fruit is the price of our redemption. As Ambrose says, Our sin was so great that we could not be redeemed unless the Only Begotten Son of God should die for us debtors. The reason is that the offence of the human race was infinite because of the one who was offended, of the good of which it was deprived, and of the nature that it darkened. Therefore it was necessary that this offence be purged by the passion of Our Lord. So Peter says: You know that you were ransomed not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without spot or blemish.
The second fruit is the privilege of divine love. Things given as gifts usually have the effect of inspiring us to love. The greater gifts inspire greater love, as it is written: He who is forgiven more, loves the more. This is the greater gift, and it is loved the more. Among all the things that are lovable, there is one that is more lovable than the rest, and that most lovable of all things is life. Whoever gives his life for his friend has given the greatest possible gift. As Saint Bernard writes, the cup that you have drunk, O sweet Jesus, that work of our redemption, has made me more lovable to you than anything else.
The third fruit is the shield for our defense. Before the suffering of Christ, many people were laboring in idolatry and were unable to resist the devil. After the passion of Christ, the enemy was made powerless, so that none can be conquered or overcome unless that person wills it. As Gregory writes, the enemy is feeble, which conquers nothing except by the will of another. We attained this through his death, as Scripture says: They conquered through the blood of the Lamb. This ought to be the blood recognized by faith in the eyes of the faithful by which they are strengthened for battle, as it is written: Recall him, who suffered such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you may not tire when you are weary in your souls.
The fourth fruit is the summit of our exaltation. Someone is called the highest exaltation of any city, if he is chosen to rule the whole world as Emperor, or as Supreme Pontiff to govern the whole church. Accordingly, great is the dignity of human nature, because Christ, through the death that he suffered in his human nature, received a name that is above every other, as it is written: Therefore God also exalted him, and gave him a name that is above every other name. In this nature in which he suffered he judges all creation, as it is written: He was appointed by God as a judge of the living and the dead. To this all the Prophets give testimony that all who believe in him receive forgiveness of sins through his Name.
Image: Domenico Passignano, Translation of St. Antoninus