Pater de Coelis Deus, Miserere Nobis

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And now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, and we are clay; and Thou art our Maker, and we are all the works of Thy hands. Be not very angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity: behold, see, we are all Thy people.[1]

Who is a God like to Thee, who takest away iniquity, and passest by the sin of the remnant of Thy inheritance?... He will send in His fury no more, because He delighteth in mercy: He will turn again and have mercy; He will put away our iniquities; He will cast our sins into the bottom of the sea.[2]

YES, O Most merciful Father, we have sinned and committed iniquity, but remembering the multitude of Thy tender mercies we presume to address Thee, knowing Thou wilt not turn away from Thy children, the work of Thy hands. If even under the Old Law, one of comparative severity, Thy wrath was so easily appeased, what may we not hope for now, that we can beg Thee to look on the face of Thy Son and our Protector and Saviour? Who can turn over the many pages of the Old Testament without learning something of Thy tender mercies, of what we might almost call Thy motherly care of Thy creatures? Even when Thou hadst most just cause for anger with our first parents, even when decreeing their punishment, didst Thou not in the same breath promise them Thy divine Son, who should atone for their sins, though with Thy usual magnificence, Thou madest but little of what Thou wast doing, so that they scarcely grasped the magnitude of the gift? And then to show that no detail was beneath Thy notice, as no gift was beyond Thy generosity, Thou didst Thyself deign to make the clothes for Thy two ungrateful, rebellious creatures. Not even was an angel entrusted with the work, much less were they merely instructed how to do it for themselves; but “the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them”[3] Yes, not only do we see Him making their clothes, but like a tender mother putting them on them. Again, when awarding to Cain his sentence after the murder of his brother, and the wretched man cried out that every one that found him would kill him, God’s compassionate heart was instantly touched, and He said: “No, it shall not be so: but whosoever shall kill Cain shall be punished sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, that whosoever found him should not kill him.” One would say that this guilty man was a special favourite, as whosoever should slay him would be accounted as having slain seven persons. O my God, truly Thy spirit found its way into David, and Thou, like him, mightest sometimes be reproached with loving Those who hate Thee, and hating those who love Thee.[4] So great are Thy mercies towards Thy enemies who transgress Thy laws, that some, like David himself, are at times almost scandalised at Thy dealings with the wicked. We see, from the history of Jonas, how well known it was that God was easily pacified by a word of sorrow, or a sign of repentance, so much so that the prophet, feeling sure that his threats against Nineveh would not be put in execution, should any of its inhabitants plead for mercy, disobeyed God’s command to foretell the destruction of the city; nor was he mistaken in his estimate of the extent of God’s mercy, as the event showed. We learn again in the writings of the prophet Amos how a single word of his turned away God’s righteous anger against the people of Israel, who were threatened with a visitation of locusts. “I said: O Lord God, be merciful, I beseech Thee; who shall raise up Jacob, for he is very little? The Lord had pity upon this: it shall not be, said the Lord.” And again, when God showed him other evils that were hanging over the people on account of their sins, the prophet once more said: “O Lord God, cease, I beseech Thee; who shall raise up Jacob, for he is a little one? And the Lord had pity upon this: Yea, this also shall not be, said the Lord God.”[5] Another striking example of how easily our heavenly Father, even before the coming of Christ, was moved to mercy is found in the book of Kings. Achab – after accumulating crimes to such an extent that it was said of him: “Now there was not such another as Achab, who was sold to do evil in the sight of the Lord: for his wife Jezebel set him on and he became abominable.” – hearing of the judgements of God with which he was threatened, humbled himself and did penance; and the Lord spoke to Elias the prophet, through whom these punishments had been foretold, almost reproachfully, as if he ought already to have been pleading on behalf of the sinner. “And the word of the Lord came to Elias the Thesbite saying: Hast thou not seen Achab humble before Me? Therefore because he has humbled himself for My sake, I will not bring the evil in his days.”[6] O God of mercy and compassion, it is true I cannot show penance such as that of Achab, who fasted and slept in sackcloth, nor that of the Ninevites who neither ate nor drank for three days; but wilt Thou listen to the plea urged by Amos on behalf of Jacob? Truly I am a little one, little in virtue, little in ability, little in every way. Say to me in Thine own most beautiful words: “O poor little one, tossed with tempest, and without all comfort, behold, I will set thy stones in order, I will lay thy foundations with sapphires.”[7] Have mercy on me, most loving Father; give me all I ask; fill me with sorrow for all my transgressions, and fortify me with Thy strength that I may no more offend Thy infinite goodness. And Mary, daughter of God the Father, plead for us that He may have mercy.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.


[1] Isa. 64:8, 9.

[2] Mic. 7:18, 19.

[3] Gen. 3.

[4] 2 Kings 19.

[5] Amos 7.

[6] 3 Kings 21.

[7] Isa. 54.