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What right do I have to be walking in His Love and not reaping the miserable harvest of the hateful seeds I had sown? I have no right. It’s not about rights, but about Love and the mercy which is its fruit…

prodigal-sonIn C.S. Lewis’s magical tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Witch reminds Aslan of the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time. “You… know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill.”

For those who do not know this wonderful and wonder-filled book, Aslan serves as the Christ-figure in the story whereas the Witch serves as the satanic presence. The Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time is the rule of Justice, the principle of an eye-for-an-eye, which stipulates that those who break the just law are to be punished in accordance with the severity of the crime committed.

“And so,” the Witch continues, pointing to the treacherous Edmund, “that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property.”

Edmund, the traitor whose pride wreaks havoc, is a figure of Adam, or Judas, or, if we are to be brutally honest, of our own miserable selves. Speaking personally, I can never read this story without seeing in Edmund a reflection of my own ugly self, the sinner that I am and, even more painfully, the sinner that I once was.

Years ago, back in the 1970s and 1980s, I was a leading member of the National Front, the forerunner of the British National Party. I was full of hatred. I hated the immigrant presence in my country, and I hated the politicians who were responsible for allowing the immigrants in. I hated the police and the communists and the socialists and the liberals and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government. I was full of hatred. Towards the top of the list of those whom I hated were Catholics. I was a member of the Orange Order and was heavily involved with the Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, visiting the Province frequently between 1978 and 1985, at the height of the Troubles. I knew the leadership of the UDA and fraternized with the leadership of the even more ruthless UVF. I had friends who were killed by the IRA and another acquaintance who was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing the mother of an IRA man on her own doorstep. Although I mourned for the death of my friends, I felt no need to mourn for the death of my enemies, nor for my enemies’ mothers. It was a war to the death with those whom I considered to be my enemies and the enemies of my country. There was no room for any mercy.

Almost inevitably I found myself on the wrong side of the law and was sentenced to prison twice, in 1982 and 1985, for publishing material which incited racial hatred. I spent my twenty-first and twenty-fifth birthdays in prison.

Slowly, through the healing grace of God and through my reading of writers such as G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and C.S. Lewis, I eventually moved away from my neo-Nazi beliefs and towards a gradual and grudging acceptance of the truths of Christianity. In 1989, I was received into the Catholic Church, having severed my connection with the National Front two years earlier.

Having been absolved of my past sins, so numerous and so hateful, I could only wonder at a God who not only forgives such a sinner but who willingly pays the price for my sin through the suffering of His own Crucified Flesh. Domine non sum dignus…I am not worthy of such forgiveness and such love. On the contrary, and truth be told, I am worthy of the justice that my crimes demand. I am worthy of being struck with the same hateful force with which I struck. Indeed, I am worthy of being struck down by the lightning that justice demands.

What right do I have to be walking in His Love and not reaping the miserable harvest of the hateful seeds I had sown? I have no right. It’s not about rights but about Love and the mercy which is its fruit.

When Aslan offers himself to the Witch as a sacrificial victim, suffering in Edmund’s place, he is drawing on a power even deeper than that of Justice. After his resurrection, Aslan explains how Love and the mercy it offers are a Deeper Magic which exists in God Himself from all eternity and which the devil does not comprehend:

“It means,” said Aslan,

that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge only goes back to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead… Death itself would start working backward….

I thank God with my whole heart that I have been saved by the Deeper Magic from before the dawn of Time, which is love’s kiss of mercy on the unworthy sinner. Agnus Dei, qui tollis pecata mundi, miserere nobis.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with gracious permission from the Catholic Herald (November 2015). The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

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7 replies to this post
  1. Luke 19:10. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Amen.

    Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Salvation has come. Amen

  2. “Deeper Magic (from “before”) Time dawned” What a profound characterization of God’s nature.
    Unfortunately the Idea of mercy both God’s and human’s is one of the most distorted and misunderstood notion in today’s modern world, working against the restoration of Sacredness in everyday life. This distorted idea of mercy is seen by many as license to sin, as one priest said “I realized that the more I sin the more God loves me…pouring out His mercy.”
    What almost completely omitted in today’s theological discussions is that sin, even if–because of God’s infinite mercy—forgiven to those of contrite of heart who have the firm purpose of amendment, has its very painful, and many times unalterable, individual and public (suffering of others) consequences for which the sinner (despite being mercifully forgiven) will have to pay in this or the next life. And according to Saints it is much better to pay it here, as it was said that that one second in the purgatory is worse than 1000 years of greatest suffering in this life.
    One of the spiritual works of mercy is to admonish the sinner. “It is an act of love to try to make another realize how bad sin is.” What a rare scene it is in today’s post human world.

    • I often heard the expression, “there are only two kinds of people in the world, forgiven sinners and unforgiven sinners.” In other words, we sin because we are sinners by nature, everyone. That is the very reason death entered the world; the repentant sinner who begs for God’s mercy of forgiveness, who hears the Gospel of forgiveness, is completely and totally forgiven. Faith trusts in the knowledge that, that’s exactly what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross; took my sin into Himself, suffered and died for my sins! He did that in my stead. He suffered what I should have suffered instead of me! He gives me his mercy, clothes me in His Mercy; reconciling me back to God the Father. My natural born state of sinner, but now a forgiven sinner, must go to the grave to wait for the resurrection of my, made new, incorruptible body never to sin no more. We are called to live a life of repentance, receiving His forgiveness first in Holy Baptism, then in communing in His Holy Supper, receiving His body and blood of forgiveness into our body, confession and absolution; through life lived in His Church.

      It is true that our lives are often lived conscious of all manner of suffering. This is the natural state of secular life in the world, because we live and work and socialize with sinners!!! Some sins are intentional, most are not! Yes, we are in continual need of admonishment, knowledge of sin shown from His law, being repentant,and be willing to hear and trusts that forgiveness has been won for even me. We pray that everyone would hear and receive His saving truth in the Gospel.

      • “1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.84 1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.” Our participation in Christ’s sacrifice 618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”.452 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.453 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”,454 for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”455 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.456 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.457 Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church) “
        Yes, perhaps most of the sins nowadays are committed involuntarily because the concept of sin has been eliminated from society in general and–to a great extent–from the main stream Catholicism. On Saturdays there are few elderly folks going to confession, but the next day at Sunday Mass everybody is receiving Communion.
        From Fr. Bill Casey sermon that talks about the issue:
        “Pope Pius XII who said that “the great sin of our age is the denial of sin” Fr. Casey quotes Archbishop Sheen who said that “There is only one thing worse than sin, there is only one thing more dangerous to the life of the soul then sin itself, there is only one thing that God hates more than sin, that is the denial of sin.” Sin is one of those things that we don’t wanna talk about anymore, that word sin has become a dirty little word that we do not wanna mention anymore even from the pulpit, it seems like the more sins there is today the less we say about it, the less we speak out against it, and this ridicules this is theological insanity, its spiritual suicide, because ultimately there is only one thing that can separate us from God, and that is sin, to conceal the reality of sin is to play the devil’s game to fall into his track. Today with the dangerous “inculturement” of modern popular psychology, and the catholic theological thought especially in the academic circles any discussion of sin anything that may cause feelings of guilt or discomfort is rejected. Anything like that is out of favor out of practice. St Paul once wrote that the day will come when man will no longer tolerate sound doctrine… That day has now arrived, that day is now upon us, we don’t wanna talk about sin. That is this word seems to be passing from our theological vocabulary. Today we would rather talk about how to feel good about yourself, how to build up you your self‐esteem how to maximize you human potential, how to archive self‐actualization, how to find your ultimate happiness self‐ fulfillment and contentment here and now in this life. it seems like most of people today are concern entirely what happening in this life and they wanna forget completely about what is going to happen in the life to come‐ an eternity. We tend to see time as more important that eternity. We don’t wanna hear Truth , Because the Truth makes us feel uncomfortable at times. Because the Truth makes moral demand on us. The truth sometimes demands that we change our lives change our ways change our hearts back to God, There are many priest and Bishops today who will no longer speak out against the great moral evils of our time from the pulpit They will not speak out against sin. Especially the sins against the 6th and 9th commandments for fear of offending. There are so many of us among clergy now today who want to be so popular and accepted , so afraid of alienating anyone… We (priests) shun away from speaking the Truth, As God gave us the moral obligation to do. We shun away from preaching the gospel in its fullness…we don’t want to tell people, in other word the disturbing news that the mortal sin can separate us from Heaven. We withhold essential information that can prevent people who has every right to have it.”

  3. Emil, thank you for your reply. I see your passion for truth. I too have been given this time lived to be blessed to “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” , and it has been a time lived of a life lived under the cross. Christ told us that the student is not greater than his master, and if the world hated Me it will also hate you. Suffering is therefore not a surprise since in sin my mother conceived me. I confess to be a natural born sinner, a worm, deserving nothing from God.
    As a child, even though my father put hardship on the family, he dutifully brought me and my sister to baptism in the name of the Triune God, and faithfully brought us to Sunday School, where from 4 or 5 years old, I loved learning about God. Every Sunday morning learning memorizing, answering questions about the Ten Commandments, their meaning, the Creed, Baptism-the Lords Prayer, etc. the same repetition for the next 10 years. I learned how all those subjects were about God, from God, how they benefit me, my life, and salvation. I loved God, as a child, so much, that it was a source of conversation between me and childhood friends, who are you, in what do you believe about God, where is your church? Most everyone went to church then, now not so much as we know.
    I’m rambling on a bit much, this being a hard forum to get down to particulars; particulars became my passion, slowly over life, and I believe also yours. As, for me, Faith and Trust in our Lord’s victory over, sin, death, my flesh, and the devil, He won through His life and death, and gives to me in His Baptism, His Body and Blood, His Absolution. He died my death, paid my penalty, in Him I now have eternal life, the forgiveness of my sins. This glory I await to be revealed when He returns.

    • Kat, it is an inspiring privilege to address the topic of God’s Mercy with such a sincere person like you. Yea, my life has been quite a journey in search for Truth, Beauty and Good, and those are increasingly difficult to find in today’s world—it really does seem like Benedict Option is the only option left. One article written by Mr. Pearce had a profound impact on me, and one may actually use it against wrongly understood mercy. Mr. Pearce wrote: “The sobering reality is that we must either fight the dragons that we encounter in life or become dragons ourselves. There is no middle-path. No neutrality in this fight to the death is possible. We either fight the dragon or we become the dragon.” I used to live thinking that I wasn’t a dragon while not fighting dragons. But that is simply impossible–you either fight the dragons or become one–so I was one of them…and there is no mercy to dragons in this fight to the death.

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