André Coindre Workbook 1
“The Lesson of the Cross”
Saint Augustine tells us that the Cross is a school where Jesus teaches, a pulpit where He announces all the truths of salvation. Crux illa schola, lignum pendentis factum est cathedra docentis.
The dead figure of Christ hangs on the Cross. Yet he speaks to us. Defunctus adhuc loquitur. When I am lifted up, I will draw all things to myself. His lifeless eyes are more eloquent than if they were open. His pallid and bruised features are more convincing than if they were radiant with glory. His silent and sealed lips speak more loudly than if they uttered sounds. An idea expressed in words is limited. But the language of this torn and bloodied body is without limit. Defunctus adhuc loquitur.
Yes, this Cross will preach to you instead of us. And what will it say? All the great truths which have been revealed to you and which can never be told. This Cross will preach to you instead of us and tell you about one God in three Persons. The Father required such a victim. The Son offered himself on this altar. The Holy Spirit formed this body which was sacrificed.
This Cross, this new missionary, will preach instead of us. And what will it say? It will speak the language of the love of God for men, because He has loved the world to the point of giving us the Heart of his only Son. Sic Deus dilexit mundum (Jn. 3:16). He has loved us to the point of giving us not the heart of a mortal creature, but the Heart of the Eternal, the God who thrones above the seraphim and the cherubim, the Heart and Person of He who is infinitely greater than all the angels and the entire universe. Sic Deus. He has loved us to the point of dying out of love for us.
His eyes are lifeless, but it is the love of his Heart for you which closed them. His features are pallid and bruised, but it is the love of his Heart which has concealed their radiance so as to soften your hearts. His lips are silent and sealed, but it is the love of his Heart which has made them thus so as to speak to us infinitely more eloquently in the death of God. Defunctus adhuc loquitur.
This Cross will preach to you instead of us and will reveal to you the price of your souls, the value of your salvation. It will remind you that salvation is your only and necessary treasure, because it is not with gold or silver or precious stones that you have been redeemed but by the blood of God shed for you. A lance pierced this Heart and this wound was desired so as to touch your own hearts with mutual love for him.
From the Preaching Notes of Father André Coindre
On the love of God from a sermon by Father André Coindre
Yes, in creating you, God loved you as a father,
So you could enjoy the sensation of living,
So you could surge forth from the nothingness of eternal silence,
Out of murky vagueness and into light.
In deciding to create you, God loved you as a father,
No, I say he loved you as more than a father,
Because the love of a father begins only at the instant of birth.
God’s love began eternally before that
Without the slightest interruption,
Without a moment of indifference.
God has loved you constantly in the mystery of eternity.
You began in his mind’s eye a century of centuries before you were born.
You began in his heart of hearts before there was time.
It was his dream to place you among his chosen ones,
in his holy nation.
Before the world was born, faithfully, eagerly,
God had in mind to give you the grace of holiness, of wholeness,
So you would walk in his presence alive with his love.
In deciding to create you, God loved you as a father.
No, I say again as more than a father,
Because the love of a father is mixed with self-interest and duty.
God’s is free, gratuitous. He loves you tenderly, purely and simply.
In deciding to create you, God loved you as a father…
As more than a father,
Because as tender as a father’s love is,
He does not choose his children.
But God loved you with the love of choice, with preferential love.
He preferred you. He wanted you in particular.
I am not talking about all the ways he spoiled you and favored you,
Sparing you from harsh climates and disasters, which so many endure,
Saving you from persecution, suffering and death.
I am talking about the grace of God’s choice
To create you in preference to millions of others
He could have created,
To desire you instead of the hundreds, even thousands
Of worlds and beings which could have fired his love,
And which could have responded more generously than you,
But which, compared to you, will forever remain
Uncreated, in eternal neglect.
Have you ever realized that your heart
Was created in the place of so many hearts
Which might have been holier,
Much more ardent in returning God’s love?
And yet your heart, as simple and as small,
as narrow as you might feel it to be;
God prefers it to all those others.
Never, ever doubt the love in the heart of God for you.
Could he have put into the heart of your father
Or into the heart of your friends who love you dearly
A feeling that he did not first have in his own heart?
Could the tender heart of your mother have showered on you
Such love and caring all day and all night
During your infancy without God first giving her
The energy of his restless love?
Admit it and proclaim it then: God is more than your father.
He is a father deeply in love with you.
Compared to him all fathers and mothers are only a reflection,
He is a father whose heart is a roaring hearth, an intense fire.
He is a father whose love makes the most loving and dedicated persons you might know or imagine
seem like nothing more than the faintest spark.
Admit his love, proclaim it. And pray with me:
My God, despite my pettiness, my sinfulness, you love me. The goodness, the gentleness of your love is too good to be believed too easily. How is it that you love such inconstant, such small creatures as us? Are you forgetting that only goodness and beauty are worthy of such love? At least that’s how we are! We love only what is good, or at least only what seems good in our limited and sinful affections. We reject what is ugly and unpleasant. But you who see everything, whose gaze penetrates into our darkest selves, into the hardest parts of our hearts, you love us. You love us with our refusals and selfishness, with our vices and addictions. You love us while we are sinners! My God, how sublime and mysterious! I have come to take your love for granted. I have come to count on your love. I have come to expect you to love me even in my most outrageous moments of insult and vengeance.
O incomprehensible lover, how can I keep speaking about your love unless you pour into my heart great tongues of fire? How can I speak another word unless you gather up and fill me with the love in the hearts of all mothers and fathers who ever existed, of all saints who have ever loved, of all the angels who adore you. Give me the grace to love in return, to respond worthily to your heart forever open and forever full.