Holy Week 2007: March 2007 Archives

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A Word Out of Silence

The chant of the Passion plunges us into silence. The Word has been silenced. Only a fool would dare to speak. Anything less than a word out of silence is unworthy of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ; anything more is superfluous. If I am so foolish as to preach today, it is for the sake of silence: a word out of silence, a word into silence. Like Saint Paul, “I am with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling” (1 Cor 2:3). If I offer you words, their only purpose is to guide you into the harbour of an immense and solemn stillness.

Pierced by the Passion

Dr. Sutton, an English divine of the sixteenth century imagined a dialogue between the soul pierced by the hearing the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Lord, wherefore diddest thou suffer thyself to be sold?
That I might deliver thee from servitude. . .
Wherefore diddest thou sweat blood?
To wash away the spots of thy sin. . .
Why wouldest thou be bound?
To loose the bands of thy sins. . .
Why wert thou denied of Peter?
To confess thee before my Father. . .
Why wouldest thou be accused?
To absolve thee. . .
Why wouldest thou be spitted on?
To wipe away thy foulness. . .
Why wouldest thou be whipped?
That thou mightest be freed from stripes. . .
Why wouldest thou be lifted up upon the Cross?
That thou mightest be lifted up to heaven. . .
Why were thine arms stretched out?
To imbrace thee, O fainting soul. . .
Why was thy side opened?
To receive thee in. . .
Why didst thou die amidst two thieves?
That thou mightest live in the midst of angels.

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This is the image that I chose twenty–one years ago to commemorate my ordination to the priesthood. I chose it then because it depicts the Face of Jesus full of peace and beauty after having "bowed His head and given up His spirit" (cf. Jn 19:30), and it shows His Sacred Side opened by the soldier's lance. I would choose it again today for the same reasons: the adorable Face of Jesus and His pierced Heart.

It is helpful, I think, from time to time to look at the things that have remained constant in our lives, at the loves which, in spite of every failure, weakness, and betrayal, remain unchanged. In my case, at least, these things point not to any steadfastness and fidelity of mine, but to the steadfast and faithful mercy of God. I take comfort in knowing that though "the mountains shall be moved, and the hills shall tremble, the mercy of Christ shall not depart from me" (cf. Is 54:10). At the last hour, when every other thing shall have faded or been stripped away, I trust that the Face of Christ will shine in my darkness and His pierced Heart be open to receive me.

I don't often write in so personal a voice on Vultus Christi, and I loathe "autobiographical preaching." It seems to me nonetheless that a personal witness to the unchanging designs of God in a life like mine — marked by change, struggles, uprootings, and apparent failures — may help others, as Saint Benedict says, "never to despair of the mercy of God" (RB 4:74), believing with Saint Paul, that "nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ" (Rom 8:35). Blessed Great and Holy Week to each one . . . in the light of His Face and in the secret of His pierced Heart.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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