God’s meekness, patience and clemency are three divine perfections which are joined with mercy to form one and the same perfection, although their effects are different.
Mercy regards the misery of creatures in general, to relieve and to deliver them from its fetters. The first and greatest of miseries, the source of all wretchedness is sin. When man is so unhappy as to offend God mortally, he at once becomes the object of God’s wrath which would crush him the very instant he consents to sin, as he infinitely deserves to be. But divine meekness prevents the destruction and arrests the torrent of God’s just anger, ready to pour upon the sinner. If man perseveres in his crime, he deserves to be cast upon divine vengeance, but divine patience interposes and persuades God to suffer the sinner and await his repentance with admirable goodness.
These are the effects of divine meekness and patience. God’s clemency is manifested by remitting entirely or in part the punishment due to sin.
Whoever is in mortal sin deserves the eternal punishment of hell, but divine clemency often sends temporal affliction to those who are in that miserable state, to oblige them to struggle out of it, and thus become delivered from eternal suffering. If they will be converted at the very instant they feel sentiments of true remorse, divine mercy effaces the guilt of sin from their souls.
Although the actual guilt is thus effaced, it remains true that divine justice still pursues the sinner to exact the penalty his offences have deserved, but divine clemency commutes first of all the eternal penalty into a temporal punishment.
Furthermore, God’s marvelous clemency seeks to deliver the sinner from even this temporal punishment, or at least to diminish it, and sends further afflictions, by means of which sinful man may satisfy divine justice.
This sweetest clemency offers him still other means of paying his debt to the justice of God, for example, jubilees and indulgences. It induces the repentant sinner to assist with devotion at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the supreme means of satisfying all our obligations to God, and at the same time it urges him to receive the Blessed Eucharist frequently with holy dispositions and to perform various other good works.
If the sinner dies before he has rendered full satisfaction, his imperfectly purified soul is sent to Purgatory to complete its purification, which is yet another effect of divine mercy.
If it is true that the sufferings of Purgatory are greater than we can [describe or imagine, divine clemency has nevertheless found several means of mitigating and shortening them. It hastens the deliverance of suffering souls by the application of indulgences, and by the prayers, fasts, alms and sacrifices of the faithful on earth, as well as the suffrages of the Saints in heaven.
These are some of the effects of the meekness, patience and clemency of God.
Now these three divine perfections live and reign in the Heart of the Mother of Mercy, communicating their own divine inclinations most excellently. After the Heart of God Himself there never was and never shall be a heart so full of meekness, patience and clemency as the noble Heart of Mary.
While she dwelt on earth, she beheld the world filled with idols and idolaters. With the exception of a very small number, men generally were armed against God, trying, if possible, to dethrone Him, to put Him under their feet and annihilate Him. They would set His enemy in His place and sought to procure for the usurper the adoration and honor which belong to God alone. As the Most Blessed Virgin Mary loved God with a love so great that we cannot describe it, she experienced an indescribably great sorrow at the sight of the crimes committed against His Divine Majesty.
But who can appreciate her greater grief over the atrocious torments inflicted on her beloved Son by the perfidy of the Chosen People? She knew Him to be Innocence and Sanctity incarnate; yet she saw Him persecuted and tormented as though He were the greatest of criminals. She watched Him bound and tethered like a thief, dragged through the streets of Jerusalem like a scoundrel, beaten, bruised, mocked, spit upon, clothed in the white garment of a fool, given up to the mockery, insults and outrages of a band of insolent soldiers, reviled, spurned in favor of Barabbas, scourged and torn with whips from head to foot, crowned with thorns, exposed to the gaze of an enraged crowd crying: “Away with him; away with him: crucify him” (1). She saw her dear Son condemned to a cruel death, carrying the heavy Cross to be the instrument of His torture, stripped, nailed and fastened to the Cross with great nails that pierced His gentle hands and feet. She watched His adorable lips, in the torment of thirst, given gall and vinegar to drink, His sacred ears filled with curses and blasphemies, all the members of His body dislocated so that one could count His very bones: “They have numbered all my bones” (2). She beheld the body of the God-Man, her Son, covered with wo