Christ in the Saint

St Francis of Assisi by Master of Frankfurt

Father Benson recalls: “We have seen how Christ is present in His Priest through the ‘character’ and the mission that the priest receives. It is Christ who speaks through his mouth when he delivers the message of the Gospel; it is Christ too, who, using the priest’s will and intention as well as his words and actions, performs the supernatural acts of the sacramental and sacerdotal rites. Finally, the universal characteristics of the priesthood—such as its separation from the world and, simultaneously, its accessibility—these are nothing else but characteristics of Christ Himself.”

“But there is another holiness in the world, besides that of external consecration—namely, Personal Holiness or Moral Sanctity. We have now to consider Christ’s relations to this also—His Presence in the Saint.”

The saints are “mirrors of the Divine Light in which we can see [Christ’s] Perfections.” Yet, they are more. “The graces that they display are actually the same graces as those with which this Sacred Humanity was saturated; their horror of sin is His; the powers which they exercise are His. They are ‘the light of the world’ (Matt 5:14), since there burns in them the Supreme Light of the world.”

“It is He Who has lived in them, as really, though in another manner, as in the Sacrament of the altar; it is He Who now appears in them in the culmination of their sanctity, visible to all who have eyes to see.”

“To stare upon the Sun unveiled is to be struck blind, or at least to be so dazzled by excess of light as to see nothing. In the saints, therefore—through their individual characters and temperaments, as through prismatic glass—we see the All-holy Character of Christ, the white brilliancy of His Absolute Perfection, not distorted or diluted, but rather analysed and dissected that we may understand it the better.”

“Here, then, Christ comes to us, extending Himself in that Court of His friends who stand about His Throne.”

Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).

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