I came across this passage by St. Bernard of Clairvaux in his magisterial, On Loving God. It filled me with intense gratitude for my existence, for my redemption from sin’s fall into non-existence and for the dignity of being called a child of God.
‘What shall I render to the Lord for all that he has given me?’ (Ps. 116:12) In his first work he gave me myself; in his second work he gave himself; when he gave me himself, he gave me back myself. Given, and regiven, I owe myself twice over. What can I give God in return for himself? Even if I could give him myself a thousand times, what am I to God?
Then, as I lingered on Bernard’s question, I suddenly found myself drawn to pray the Chaplet of Mercy. There is no other return equal, and all other returns of gratitude find their completion in this one:
Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
After about 15 minutes of repetition, I jotted this down on a piece of paper: “As a member of Christ’s Body, anointed in Baptism-Confirmation as a royal priest in Him, I am empowered to offer God to God; Son to Father. In this way I share in the eternal eucharist of the Son to the Father for eternally begetting Him as ‘God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God…’ What return shall I make to the Lord for all His goodness to me? This is it. I offer my body, His body as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1.”
Then one of my children interrupted my prayer and said, “Dad, can you come help me?”
Ite, missa est.