Sancta Trinitas, Unus Deus, Miserere Nobis

Read the other chapter here.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.[1]

Thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild, and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon Thee.[2]

Thou hast mercy on all because Thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance. For Thou lovest all the things that are, and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made… but Thou sparest all because they are Thine, O Lord, who lovest souls.[3]

“FOR according to His greatness so also is His mercy.”[4] To some of Thy ways, Lord, we have become so accustomed that we scarcely realise how far removed they are from ours. But, how astounded a pagan would be if he heard the prayers we offer Thee; we, who have become so accustomed to Thy magnificent ways that when we kneel before Thee and calmly, almost mechanically, perhaps, offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy well-beloved Son in satisfaction for our sins, we scarcely realise that were Thy ways as ours we should be doing the very thing most calculated not to appease Thy wrath, but to call down vengeance on our heads. What murderer was ever heard to plead with the father of his victim by the blood of his son? And which of us can say we are guiltless of the Blood of Jesus Christ? Yet quite boldly we offer it and expect Thee to give us all we ask for when we do so, and Thou dost wish us to do this. It is one of Thy magnificent ways – one of Thy princely devices of mercy. Again, who does not love that most beautiful prayer of Cardinal Manning’s at the end of his book on the “Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost”? Yet when we reflect on its beginning we should be inclined to think it a strange one, did we not know something of the ways of our God. It commences thus: “O God, the Holy Ghost, whom I have slighted, grieved, resisted from my childhood to this day, reveal to me Thy personality, Thy presence and Thy power.” One would say we were making our resistance to grace, and offences against God, the plea for His bestowing special favours on us. But we know He understands His children, and that His ways are not as ours; and so we go through life basking in His great mercy and scarcely conscious how great it is. We know, too, that He is more anxious to bestow mercy than we are to ask it.

O great, good, all-powerful God, how Thou art maligned and traduced by the father of lies, who tries to impress us with the idea that Thou art hard and exacting! We have but to consider Thy manifestations of Thyself to learn the contrary. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity comes as a weak, helpless babe to win our love. Born in a wayside cave, so as not to interfere with, disgrace, or appear as a rival to Herod, to whom His coming was not welcome. When grown to manhood He is pointed out by His precursor as the Lamb of God. Could any symbolical title have been chosen that would have better described the spirit of the Man-God? What more gentle, more meek, more inoffensive than a lamb? And this title He is pleased to retain even in His glorified life, when all things have been given into His hands, and He reigns in His own kingdom. For St John in the Apocalypse again speaks of Him as the Lamb. Then when the Holy Spirit clothed Himself in a form in which he could be seen by bodily eyes, what did He choose? Nothing terrible, grand, or mighty, but He came as a weak, simple, harmless dove.

And as for the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, though he has not manifested Himself visibly to the eyes of man, what name could He have chosen more likely to inspire us with loving confidence than that of Father? It is by that name He wishes us to address Him, as we know by the teaching of His divine Son, and it is in that capacity that He wants us to regard Him. “I go to My Father and your Father.” And what a Father! When did we ever hear of one who through love of his rebellious, unloving, disobedient children was willing to sacrifice the life of His one, only, true, faithful and most beloved son to save them from the consequences of their sins and folly? Yet God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son,[5] and He that spared not even His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,[6] shall we not trust Him and believe in His mercy and good-will towards us? Truly, my God, Thou has not loved merely in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth![7] Therefore with unbounded confidence do we cry, “Have mercy on us, O God, according to Thy great mercy,” and boldly do we petition, like Thy Vicar, Urban VIII, for great things, reminding Thee, as he did, that it beseemeth not Thy Majesty to give what is small. Solomon, a creature of Thy hands, thought it unworthy of a king to give only what was asked of him, so bestowed on the Queen of Saba not simply what she petitioned, but much more out of “his royal bounty.” Now we know that Thou wilt never be outdone in generosity by any of Thy creatures; therefore, what may we not expect from Thee? Thou knowest our groanings, and all the desires of our hearts are before Thee, and we also know the truth of that which a servant of God said, “The Lord is rich enough to give thee much more than this.”[8] So following the advice of those words inspired by Thee, “Only stand with confidence, and thou shalt see the power of the Lord over thee,”[9] we mean, dearest Lord, to stand and plead till Thy divine Majesty shall turn and bestow on us with “princely magnificence”[10] all we ask and more. We are well aware that it may not be today nor tomorrow that Thou wilt deign to hear us: “those that know Thee know not Thy days,”[11] but as the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes unto the Lord our God until He have mercy on us. No one ever hoped in Him and was disappointed, for according to His greatness so also is His mercy.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us!


[1] Ps. 50:3.

[2] Ps. 85:5.

[3] Wisd. 11:27.

[4] Ecclus. 2:23.

[5] John 3.

[6] Rom. 8.

[7] 1 John 3.

[8] 2 Par. 25.

[9] Ibid. 20.

[10] Ester 2.

[11] Job 24.