THE CHURCH The central idea of Merz’s spirituality was his love of the Church, and this could be seen in all of his written lines and public activities. He entered deeply into the mystery of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, from which then his apostolic activity developed. Merz recognized Christ present in the Church as an institution, especially in the person of the Roman bishop – the pope.
God became a human and has left on the earth his Fiancée: the Roman Catholic Church.
In the Church I see a clear picture of my beloved Saviour and God Jesus in all his perfection.
The greatest thing existing in the world is the Holy Church; the greatest thing in the Church is the Mass, and in the Mass the consecration.
The Church is the culmination and center of culture and the whole of humankind.
The Church is a tremendous reflection of the infinite Christ Himself.
The final aim of people is to come to the Kingdom of Christ which they can reach only through the Church.
Everything in the world, the whole secular order has to serve people to join the Church and Christ in this way, and to resurrect and live forever.
The Church has experienced two thousand years; it is being led by the Holy Spirit Himself.
Without great principles given by the Church, social order cannot be laid on a firm foundations at all, and the renewal of human society is not possible.
I am deeply convinced that outside the Church there is no complete beauty and art for a Christian.
According to the mere essence of Catholic life, all that is Catholic has to be concentrated in a bishop as the focus.
Divine constitution of the Church proves that the proper, normal and regular revival of Catholic life has to flow from a bishop as its source.
An ecclesiastical view of life is the one that, through centuries, sets into one harmonic unit the particles of its critical judgement of all the phenomena of life, which are constantly changing.
As regards the ethical judgement of art – that is, that beautiful thing is only that one which is at the same time a good one, this judgement will be the most objective if Christian truths are applied to it.
The truths of faith are the only artistic criterion to comprehend life and art objectively.
Let the atheists, internationalists and all possible theorists study the history of the Church and her present-tday activity and they will see that it is the only one that draws mankind forward.
The Croatian people were brought up in the “lap” of the Holy Catholic Church and they got from it numerous spiritual and temporal goods.
The Roman popes kept a vigilant fatherly eye on the destiny of a small Croatian nation and they interceded in behalf of its educational system and its political freedom.
The destiny of the Croatian nation was inseparably joined to the Catholic Church; to deny this beneficial influence of the Church on the development of the nation would be an act of extreme ingratitude.
THE POPE – CHRIST ON EARTH
Ivan’s love and loyalty toward the Pope as the Vicar of Christ, were his main spiritual characteristics when he was a mature Catholic intellectual. In this respect, he surpassed a great number of priests. This love and, respect for the Holy Father, and the study of his encyclicals and speeches, he was spreading in his environment, especially among the young.
In the Holy Father the Pope, under the image of a man, I see my God and my Lord.
The Pope is a visible and living Christ on earth.
The papacy is the basis and immovable rock on which the whole Church is built.
The basis of the papacy stretches mystically to all the dioceses in the world.
The Church, which is erected on the papacy as its basis, gets from it all its energy and firmness.
Providence has set a lighthouse on a mountain – the papacy – which shines through centuries all over the world and helps to distinguish between truth and mistake, good and evil.
In the Holy Year (1925) we deeply understood what is the significance of papal super-humanity.
We have understood that greatness of a nation depends on its faithfullness to the Pope, on how they obey the commandments and wishes of the Vicar of Christ.
In a “rough sea” of fallacies and passions, which are shaking mankind, Peter’s seat is an “anchor of hope and a harbour of salvation” in which we must find shelter if we don’t want to get hurt.
One of the most essential features of each Roman Catholic is to love the Holy Father the Pope and to harmonize all his thoughts and deeds with the orders and wishes of the Holy Father.
The Roman Pope is a visible Christ among people, a fiancé of the universal Church.
Devotion and love of the Pope is the mort important one for each believer’s life, for all social life, life in a family and school, for the press and art, for economic and political and international life.
The papacy is a cave and the basis of spiritual life for each believer.
A building of our spiritual life, of our knowledge and our activities, must be erected on a steady basis of the truths that the papacy undeceivably teaches.
The Pope must be the subject of our special respect and love, a part of our spiritual life.
THE CENTER OF CHRISTIANITY
Rome, as the center of Christianity, was for Ivan Merz not only the holy and eternal city, but also the town where the Vicar of Christ on earth resides, the city which is consecrated by the blood of the first Christian martyrs and the life of numerous saints. Hence Ivan’s touching descriptions of Rome and its significance for each Christian believer.
When you come to Rome and see pilgrims from various continents, then you feel quite clearly a great activity of the Roman Church, the mother of Churches from all over the world.
When you are in Rome, it seems that you are in a gigantic power station, which sends energy for a great and moral renewal.
In Rome you have an intuition, a feeling that everything is fragile and ephemeral, but that the Pope’s boat swings without fear amidst the waves because its anchor is on Peter’s firm rock.
All the nations hasten to the Eternal City, into their adopted country to pay homage to their King, their Father, and to confess their faith in the Catholic Church, the only universal Church, which has been founded by Christ, and which will last to the end of the world.
In Rome one can feel that all the nations are simply brothers and sisters in a common family and the Holy Church, where the father and head is the eternal Vicar of Christ, the bishop of Rome.
A deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary kept marking the spiritual life of Ivan Merz. Even as a youth he prayed to Our Lady to help him fight against sin, and to preserve the purity of his soul. His devotion to Our Lady was especially deepened in Lourdes where he also grew fond of the rosary which, together with the Eucharist, became his most faithful friend until his death. He was a great promoter of honoring of Our Lady of Lourdes, to whom he dedicated a great number of his lectures, articles and one brochure.
Infinite God gives us his own life through Mary.
We derive divine life through Mary until the end of our life.
A priest who gives us the Eucharist, substitutes in fact for the Blessed Virgin Mary who, in her endless love, gives us a fulness of her own inner life, her eternal endless life, gives us God Himself, Eucharistic Jesus Christ.
In Lourdes you first become overpowered by a feeling that ”She” is there, the Mother of God, who is greater and more powerful and more beautiful than all of those Pyrenean giants by which Lourdes is surrounded.
She keeps court in Lourdes in a special way and I think that all those who are there must have a feeling that she is there.
Each candle which twinkles (in a procession in Lourdes) is one soul, who will either today or tomorrow or in a few years go to Her.
Oh, let there be that moment as soon as possible, it flashes across one’s mind there, for in Lourdes there is really some ‘’taste’’ of Heaven.
In a procession in Lourdes one cardinal of the Holy Roman Church was carrying the Holy Sacrament, and the priests of the Roman Church were praying in the name of people and in front of people. And the Holy Sacrament was slowly passing by the patients who were lying and sitting.
And if on that occasion any sick man really instantly recovers, then God is present there in a form of wheaten bread, and all the “absurdities” of the Holy Catholic Church are living truths which redeem.
Oh, what a charming fairy-tale about lighted churches, fiery rivers and lakes, enthusiastic songs, miraculous recoveries and holy people, who for the love of their neighbor sacrifice their life; what a fabulous sight that the Heavenly Father prepares for his earthly children in Lourdes.
Yes, I’ve learned in Lourdes what the rosary is, and it is from now on my second best friend.
Lourdes has added an emotional element to my rational faith.
Although the Blessed Virgin Mary has not quite healed my eyes – since I have difficulties in reading – in Lourdes I’ve grown fond of the rosary that will be, together with the Holy Eucharist, my most faithful friend until death.
When you are grieved and when you are in trouble, take the rosary of Our Lady and it will comfort you and give you strength to stand all calmly with trust in God’s Will.
Let’s pray to Mary ceaselessly so that we, full of holy joy, will die in her tender embrace and on the Heart of Jesus.
L I T U R G Y
Liturgy – the official public worship of the Catholic Church – was a center of Ivan’s spiritual and prayer life. From the heart of the liturgy, and this is the Holy Mass – the Eucharist, Merz daily derived strength and apostolic zeal. His interest in the liturgy has its origin in his student days. For his doctoral dissertation he chose the theme “the influence of liturgy on French writers”. Merz looked upon liturgy from an artistic point of view, for all art finds its place in it. His wonderful thoughts about liturgy that we quote here, reveal the sanctuary of his soul constantly united with God, longing to sing him ceaseless praises.
In liturgy a man, in the most perfect way, pays homage to God which He deserves.
Liturgy is the official prayer of the Church, the official prayer of the Bride of Christ, a conversation between the Bride and the Divine Groom.
Prayers and gestures of the liturgy, its melodies and fragrances are the projections of Heaven on earth, the photographs of the inner life of God.
As the Lamb is the center of Heaven according to St. John, in the same way the holy liturgy moves around the Most Holy Host – around Jesus Christ Himself.
In liturgy as in some mirror, Christ’s life is reflected.
The solemn conventual Masses in Trappist monasteries, how dignified they are! All goes slowly, so that one can feel the beat of eternity. Why hurry? One sings God’s praises because it was for this that man was created?! Man has reached his goal, he has only to contemplate.
How charming is the beauty of Catholic services – so that a person who has once felt their charms, feels in his soul a longing to leave everything and spend all of his life in liturgical prayers, singing day and night praises to the Most Holy Trinity
During the Holy Mass in a Church one can directly feel as if he were on some island in the middle of a rough sea, on an island of true and real life.
Through liturgical meditation each Catholic becomes great and universal and he begins to feel what the Church itself feels.
In liturgy we can most easily comprehend all the beauties of God’s inner life.
Liturgy is the greatest artistic creation in the world, and besides, it is central art because it artistically presents the life of Christ who is the center of history.
Our holy liturgy is an artistic reflection of God’s inner life. Liturgy is then the art “par excellence”, for it is alive, as well as our Lord is alive.
As theology is a central science, so liturgy is a central art.
Liturgy is an artistic whole in which all the arts cooperate since it has influenced all lthe arts.
Liturgy is an expression of the soul of the Church, and a theory of art could be easily made on its basis.
The Church year, as if in some movable mirror, reflects the life of Jesus from His participation in the Most Holy Trinity, through His earthly life until His second arrival.
Among Catholic nations, there is neither an hour nor a moment when monks or priests are not praying from a breviary. Oh, what a wonderful Church, which ceaselessly sings praises to the Creator together with the heavenly choirs.
In addition to a missal, the most beautiful prayer-book is a breviary. But, it isn’t only a prayer-book, it is together with a missal the most beautiful literary work that mankind possesses.
I think that the culmination of created beauty is in a missal and breviary, in a pontifical Mass and Gregorian melodies.
Liturgical music is music that surpasses all other types of music. It expresses what is main, basic, and the only necessary: love of God.
Gregorian, liturgical music is the music of sanctity.
Liturgy doesn’t join only the members of one nation into one and unique whole, but it also establishes links among all nations and makes then brothers and children of the one Father in heaven.
On the basis of liturgy, each individual soul is being brought up.
liturgy is pedagogy in the real sense of the word, because with the help of it a believer experiences in his soul all the phases of Christ’s eternal life.
Through Catholic liturgy, people all over the world contemplate about the same things the same day, and in this way a consciousness of Catholic unity of all nations is strengthened.
Holy liturgy is one of the most powerful means of universal peace.