“God forgives so many things for a work of mercy!”

Everyone has twenty-two seconds.

Dio Perdona tante cose per un’opera di Misericordia

“God forgives (so) many things for a work of mercy!”. With these words, the simple but pure peasant girl Lucia addresses her mighty kidnapper, a man so powerful that the Spanish power is a joke to him, and so corrupt as to be willing to have a girl kidnapped and consigned to her raper for a matter of prestige and reputation among his peers. A man, though, not mighty enough to escape the patient, silent work of the Holy Ghost, and whom the sight of such helpless, desperate purity will move to the point of causing the explosion of a looming crisis; a crisis that will see him, after a terrible and liberating night, see the dawn of a new life.

Millions of Italians know these words, who have become – like so many expressions from this wonderful novel – part of the everyday language in Italy. They are particularly fortunate because – like many other expression of the Promessi Sposi, written by a man very fit in Catholic doctrine – they give to the reader beautiful snippets of Catholic wisdom, a wisdom that will, hopefully, came back to them in moments of crisis even after they have – like most of those who know these words – stopped attending Church.

Like millions of other Italians, the one or other phrase from this immortal novel comes back to me from time to time, and makes me think. It seems to me that one of the greatest strenghts of Catholicism is in its attention to the little things, in the quiet knowledge that God doesn’t abandon those who don’t forget him in the little things, and helps them to stay – or to return to – the straight and narrow even when they stray in the bigger ones. The attitude of your typical Italian Catholic of one-two generations ago – before the “everyone’s a saint” era that has, to an extent, polluted Italy as well as the rest of Catholicism – was exactly this idea that when one does his part, and even not such a big one, the Provvidenza – a concept Manzoni comes back to again and again – takes care that the sheep finds his way, in due time, to the fold.

This is in my eyes the reason why the Countries that are more traditionally Catholic are also the ones with, I am sorry to have to say so, the happiest people. Not for us the life-quenching rigidity of old Presbyterians, the tortured morality of old Puritans, the virtue that kills joy. A stream of quiet optimism runs through the veins of Catholics, the idea that salvation doesn’t come without doing anything to deserve it, but that deserving it is well within the reach of sinners like you and I.

God forgives so many things for a work of mercy.

This is the reason why I do not stop boring you with my insistence on the Rosary, as I am fully persuaded that – besides Mass attendance – no other weapon in the Catholic armoury is so powerful in its effects, or so easy in its use.

As, though, God forgives so many things for a work of mercy, I have thought to flank my link to the Rosary with a smaller, less demanding link to a short prayer also linked to by Father Z, the Daily Offering to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This short prayer will take you, literally, twenty-two seconds, but exactly because of its non-demanding nature can become a habit everytime you visit this site.

In case you understand or enjoy Italian – how silly of me: the two are one and the same….. 😉 – below is the scene I was talking about, the beautiful and extremely accurate – with the text used as script; basically, it is the excerpt of an audiobook with images – 1967, Sandro Bolchi rendition of I Promessi Sposi , featuring a beautiful and very moving Paola Pitagora as Lucia and the – as usual – stellar Salvo Randone as the Innominato.
The scene begins at 7:10.

Posted on September 22, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on “God forgives so many things for a work of mercy!”.

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