Paschaltide 2009: April 2009 Archives

By His Wounds Holy and Glorious

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Third Sunday of Paschaltide

Acts 3:13-15.17-19
Psalm 4:2.4.7.9.
1 John 2:1-5
Luke 24:35-48

Today's image shows the tabernacle door of the Church of Saint Anna, Andogno, Tavodio, Italy. Notice the little keyhole on the bottom of the right side.

The Incendiary Gospel

"Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us. When Thou speakest, make our hearts burn with love" (cf. Lk 24:32). Who but the Word can open the Word to us? In His light we see light; only in the light of the Paschal Candle -- that is, of the Risen Christ -- does the light of the Scriptures become apparent. The breath of Christ fills the words of the Holy Gospel with spirit and life (Jn 6:63). The liturgic Gospel -- the Gospel proclaimed in the midst of the Church and making Christ present -- fills the heart with fire. "Behold," He says through the prophet Jeremiah, "I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them, says the Lord, the God of hosts" (Jer 5:14). The disciples at Emmaus said, "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?" (Lk 24:32). The proclamation of the Holy Gospel is always incendiary: a devouring fire in the heart of the Church.

The five new saints whose canonization was celebrated in Rome this morning: Bernard Tolomei (1272--1348), Nuno de Santa Maria of Portugal (1360-1431), Caterina Volpicelli (1839-1894), Gertrude Comensoli (1847-1903), Saint Arcangelo Tadini (1846-1912) were men and women set ablaze with the Divine Fire of the Gospel. Two of them touch me in a special way: Saint Bernard Tolomei for his renewal of Benedictine life, and Saint Gertrude Comensoli for her charism of Eucharistic adoration.

The Gift of Peace

In today's Gospel Our Lord offers us two gifts, and He expresses two desires. The first gift is peace. "Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be upon you!'" (Lk 24: 36). We ask for this peace in every Mass before Holy Communion: "O Lord Jesus Christ, who said to Thy apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you, look not on my sins, but on the faith of Thy Church and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with Thy will." This is the peace that comes over a troubled heart when the words of sacramental absolution are pronounced. The peace that Christ offers is His very own: a peace that flows out of His life of communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. Christ's peace carries us upward; it flows back towards its origin and source in the bosom of the Father. In the Second Reading Saint John said: "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous" (1 Jn 2:1). Every advocate seeks to win peace for those whom he represents. Peace, then, is the first gift of the Risen Christ.

The Holy and Glorious Wounds of Christ

After this first gift, Our Lord expresses His desire: "See My hands and My feet" (Lk 24:39). Jesus would have us contemplate His holy and glorious wounds. The wounds of the Risen Christ are the glory of the Father and the joy of the Church. The wounds of Christ are the indelible sign of His everlasting priesthood and the remedy for our wounds, fountains of healing for us, springs of salvation. "Repent, therefore," says Saint Peter, "and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out" (Ac 3:19). Turn again? Turn whereto? To the holy and glorious wounds of Jesus Christ. There is a very simple form of contemplative prayer in which the risen Christ applies His wounds to the wounds of the soul. It is an operation of naked faith, a wordless contact in the darkness. It touches the secret unexposed places deep within, concealed well below feelings and concepts.

Rest in Wounds of the Saviour

Listen to Saint Bernard: "Where shall the weak find a safe rest or a secure refuge except in the wounds of the Saviour. I have sinned most grievously but I am not confounded because I will call to mind the wounds of my Saviour. For He was wounded for our sins. What sin can be so much 'unto death' as that it cannot be 'loosed' by the death of Christ? Therefore no disease however desperate, shall have power to drive me to despair, if only I keep in mind so powerful and effective a remedy."

Christ Our Priest

The wounds of Christ are not only our healing; they are the glorification of the Father as well, and this, throughout all eternity. Our Eternal High Priest presents Himself before the Father's face. He says to the Father exactly what He says to us: "See my hands and my feet." The Father, reads the immensity of His love in the depths of His wounds, and in the wounds of the Son the Father is glorified.

Our Lord to Sister Marie-Marthe Chambon, Visitandine (1841-1907)
My daughter, recognize the world's treasury. . . the world does not want to recognize it. If anyone is in need, let him come with faith and confidence, let him draw constantly from the treasury of My Passion. Here is all that is need to pay one's debts.
One must not be afraid to display My Wounds to souls. My Wounds are the simple and easy way that leads to heaven. In the contemplation of My Wounds one finds everything for oneself and for others.
My daughter, where are saints made if not within My Wounds? The fruits of holiness come forth from My Wounds. Just as gold purified in the crucible becomes more beautiful, so too must you put your soul and the souls of your sisters in My Sacred Wounds; there they will be made perfect like gold in the furnace.
The sinner who will say the following prayer: Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Wounds of Our Lord to heal the wounds of our souls, will obtain his conversion.

This then is the first desire that Our Lord expresses today: that we should contemplate His glorious wounds, even as the Father contemplates them in the heavenly sanctuary where Christ is living forever to intercede for all who come to God through Him (Heb 7:25).

Touch Me

A second desire follows the first one: "Handle me," He says. Jesus wants us to touch Him eucharistically. It is not enough for Him that we should gaze upon His wounds, Our Lord would have us touch Him so as to sanctify our flesh by contact with His saving flesh. The most human of all desires is the desire to be touched. The newborn child seeks to be touched, so too in extreme old age one seeks comfort and healing in the touch of another. In the risen Christ, this most human of all desires -- the desire to be touched -- has become the most divine of all desires. "Handle me," says Jesus.

How are we to respond to this desire of the risen Christ? First, know that so often we open the book of the Scriptures, so often as we kiss the sacred page so full of His presence and open our hearts to His message, spiritually we touch Him, allowing Him inwardly to touch us by His words. Second, so often as we open our mouths to receive His Sacred Body and Precious Blood, we respond to His desire. "Touch me," He says, and so that we might really touch Him, day after day until His coming in glory, He said: "Take this, all of you and eat it: this is My Body, and take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of My Blood."

Third, what is true of the Eucharistic Body of Christ is equally true of His Mystical Body. So often as we stretch out our hands in compassion, in the act of giving, in reverent tenderness, in chaste affection, in humble service of the least among us, we touch the Body of Christ. We respond to his desire: "Touch me!" "I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me" (Mt 25:40). The Body of Christ, bruised and buffeted, disfigured and bloodied, waits to be touched in His members; the glorious and glorifying Body of Christ waits to be touched, taken and eaten in the Eucharist.

Peering Through the Trellis

And finally, a second gift: "He opened their minds to understand the scriptures" (Lk 24: 45). The words of the Scriptures form a kind of trellis, a lattice work behind which we discern the adorable Face of Jesus Christ radiant with the glory of the Father. "See where he stands behind our wall. . . he peers through the lattice" (Ct 2:9) says the bride in the Song of Songs. Scripture is the mysterious face of Christ turned towards all who seek Him. The Church is fascinated, magnetized, polarized by the Face of Jesus Christ shining in the Scriptures. Week after week, even day after day, in the liturgy we celebrate, in the psalms we sing, we learn to discover the Face behind the words. . . and the Heart beneath the Face, and this very discovery is His paschal gift to us. Do we not pray in today's Responsorial Psalm: "Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, O Lord" (Ps 4:6b).

Two Desires and Two Gifts

Two desires and two gifts. Have we opened our hearts to receive Our Lord's gift of peace? Have we risked encountering Him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms? Do we use the eyes of faith to gaze upon His wounds holy and glorious? Our hands, are they stretched forth to touch Him and to be touched by Him in the sacred mysteries of His Body and Blood and in the suffering members of His Mystical Body ? May this paschal celebration of two gifts and two desires enable us to say with Saint Augustine: "I tasted Thee and I feel but hunger and thirst for Thee. Thou didst touch me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is Thine" (Confessions X, xxvii).


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The stained-glass window depicts King Athelstan the Glorious.

Acts 4: 23-31

"And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said,

God Is Addressed
Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit,
The Psalm Quoted: Meditatio
`Why did the Gentiles rage,and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed' --
Historical Fulfillment of David's Prophecy
for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place.
The Petition: Oratio
And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.
God's Response: An Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness."

Praying Out of a Psalm

Today's First Reading at Holy Mass gave us the earliest example of an Oration or Collect based on a psalm. Already in the first centuries of the Church, authorized by the teaching of Our Lord Himself in Luke 24:44-45, the faithful began to recognize Christ and His Mysteries in the psalms they were accustomed to chant. A Trinitarian doxology (Gloria Patri) came to be appended to each psalm, and before long the psalms were enriched with refrains or framed with antiphons.

Collects on the Psalms

In both East and West, it was not uncommon to rise, or kneel, or prostrate, and pray in silence at the end of a psalm. The priest officiating would then gather up (colligere) the silent supplications of the faithful, and express them in an Oration or Collect recited in the name of all. Egeria, writing in about 415 A.D., Cassian, writing in about 420 A.D., and the 6th century Rule of the Master, all attest to the existence of this custom both in urban churches and in monastic assemblies.

The custom of inserting Collects into the psalmody of the Divine Office did not survive the test of time. It seems to have disappeared quite early in the East, and Saint Benedict, so careful to note the details of monastic psalmody in the West, makes no mention of Collects on the psalms.

Even while Collects on the psalms fell out of public liturgical use, they continued to be popular through the Middle Ages in personal devotions. Thus, one finds them in various Psalters for personal use and Books of Hours.

The Orations at the Paschal Vigil

The only place where Collects on the psalms survive in the actual liturgical practice of the Roman Rite is in the orations that, at the Paschal Vigil, conclude each of the Tracts or Responsorial Psalms that follow the readings. The Collect, of course, follows the repetition of the antiphon (or refrain) and never comes between the psalm and the repetition of the antiphon.

A Stupid Editorial Mistake

Some forty years ago the editors of the American edition of the Liturgia Horarum included Collects on the psalms in their books. The editors in question appear to have had no experience whatsoever of the choral celebration of the Divine Office. Consequently, with a total disregard for the musical and theological function of the antiphon -- to indicate the mode of the psalmody, and to serve as a Christological and ecclesiological key to it -- they wrongly inserted the "Psalm Prayers" between the doxology and the repetition of the antiphon. Musically, this is a disaster.

Doing It Right

I would argue that the last thing one needs in liturgical prayer is more wordiness, and the "Psalm Prayers" often give the impression of adding words for the sake of pious bulk. If, however, one judges the inclusion of Collects on the psalms of some pastoral benefit in the public celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, one should model the practice after what is done at the Paschal Vigil:

1) After the final repetition of the antiphon, all rise.
2) The celebrant sings, "Let us pray."
3) After a pause, he sings the Collect, taking care to conclude it using the shorter ending: "Through Christ our Lord," or "Who live and reign forever and ever."
4) The people respond "Amen."

Here is the psalm Collect given for the same Psalm 2 in the prayerbook of Athelstan, King of England from 924 to 939:

O Lord, we beseech Thee,
break the chains of our sins;
so that, bound to the yoke of Thy service,
we may be able to serve Thee in fear and reverence.
Through Christ our Lord.

And here is a Collect I composed to conclude today's General Intercessions:

Almighty and ever-living God
who on Sion your holy mountain
established your Christ as King,
mercifully grant that we may spurn
the insurrection of sinful passions,
so as to stand with humble confidence on the last day
before the Judge of all,
the Lord of clemency,
the Prince of Peace,
who is Lord forever and ever.

Divine Mercy

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Soul in need of mercy,
whoever and wherever you may be,
know that all the riches of the Divine Mercy
are, for you, contained and offered
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Go before the tabernacle,
or seek out the monstrance displaying the Body of Christ,
--a feast for your eyes--
and there adore the mystery of the Divine Mercy.

Open yourself wide,
become all capacity,
so as to receive within yourself
the mighty torrent of Mercy destined for you and, through you,
for those whose sorrows and weaknesses
you have chosen or have been given to bear.

Adore the Blood and Water that, even now,
gush from the Sacred Side
with a freshness and a purity that never grows old.
Adore the Gift of the Holy Spirit
and desire to receive Him anew today
as the Soul of your soul,
that is, the very Life of your life.

The Fountainhead of Divine Mercy
is hidden in the Sacrament of the Altar.
"He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
when He hears it, He will answer you.
And though the Lord give you the bread of affliction,
yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more,
but your eyes shall see your Teacher." (Isaiah 30:19-20)

Close to the Eucharistic Fountainhead,
you will find Mary, the Mater Misericordiae.
She never tires of communicating to souls
the abundance of Divine Mercy.
So close is she to the Source,
that it is as if she and the Source were one:
all that flows out of the Source passes through her,
and it is within her power to direct the flow of Divine Mercy
toward whomsoever she pleases.
Her Son so trusts her maternal Heart
that He has has entrusted all to her,
allowing her freely to dispense His Mercy to souls.

Soul devoted to the Divine Mercy,
adore Him Who is present as Mercy
in the Sacrament of the Altar.
Divine Mercy enters the world through the Most Holy Sacrament,
for therein in is the Heart of Jesus, the wellspring of His Mercy,
and His pierced Side, the mouth of Divine Mercy,
the opening out of which Divine Mercy enters the universe
and streams into souls
to purify, sanctify, and glorify them.

Soul surfeited with miseries,
if you would experience the Divine Mercy,
draw near to the Eucharistic Presence of the Pierced One;
remain in the light of His Eucharistic Face;
hold yourself still and full of expectation before His Open Side.
There, you will never be disappointed in your hope.
For with Him is Mercy and copious redemption,
and He will forgive you all your sins.
Every tabernacle that shelters His adorable Body and Blood
makes available to you, and to all,
the Fountainhead of the inexhaustible Mercy of God.

Venite, benedicti Patris mei

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Wednesday of Pascha

Come, you blessed of my Father,
receive the kingdom, alleluia
prepared for you
since the foundation of the world, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia (cf. Mt 25:34)

The Voice of Christ

In today's Introit, the fourth one of the ongoing Paschal solemnity, we hear the voice of none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Today's text is extraordinary in that it is one of the very few Introits drawn from the Gospels. It comes from Chapter 25 of Saint Matthew. The context is that of the Last Judgment. The words are those of Christ the King, of the Son of Man coming in His glory, and all the angels with him. He is seated upon the throne of His glory. All the nations are gathered in His presence.

Come to Me

How are we to understand this Introit today? Our Lord is addressing the newly-baptized. His first word to them is, "Come." Venite, benedicti Patris mei. Where else do we hear this same word, Venite, in the mouth of Jesus? In Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened; I will give you rest." I see Our Lord pronouncing this word with His arms spread wide in a gesture of welcome. The hands nailed to the wood of the Cross shine with His glorious wounds. His Holy Face is radiant. A torrent of light flows from His Open Side. When He says, "Come," who can resist His invitation?

Every Spiritual Blessing

Our Lord calls the newly-baptized benedicti Patris mei, blessed of my Father. Is not this what Saint Paul develops in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians? "Blessed be that God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself" (Eph 1:3). There is no greater blessing than incorporation into the Body of Christ that is the Church. The children of the Church, the Bride of Christ, are nourished from the altar of His Sacrifice with the mysteries of His Body and Blood. It is in the Eucharist that we are blessed, here and now, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself.

Here is a photo of the little Oratory of the Cenacle where I offer Holy Mass, sing the Divine Office, and make my daily adoration.

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Sacrament of the Kingdom

To receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion is to receive "the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world" (Mt 25:34). The Most Holy Eucharist is a foretaste of heaven. It is already the "Wedding Banquet of the Lamb" (Ap 19:9). The Orthodox theologian, Father Alexander Schmemann, calls the Eucharist, "the ascent of the Church to the heavenly altar." The kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world is offered to us sacramentally in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the Church assumed into heaven, and heaven filling the Church.

Since the Foundation of the World

The little phrase, "prepared for you since the foundation of the world" (Mt 25:34) tells us that creation itself, from the very beginning, was ordered to the Eucharist. Every created thing has a Eucharistic finality; every created thing is ordered to the priesthood of Christ. The Sacrament of the Eucharist recapitulates the purpose of God, the design of His Love, in creating man and in redeeming him. Only the Mass makes sense of history. Only the Mass gives meaning to all things.

The Canticle of the Three Young Men

This is why the Church enjoins the priest to say daily, as part of his thanksgiving after Mass, the Canticle of the Three Young Men, the Benedicite. Blessed Abbot Marmion remained faithful to this all his life. In Christ, the Life of the Soul, he writes, "The Church, the Bride of Christ, who knows better than anyone the secrets of her Divine Bridegroom, makes the priest sing in the sanctuary of his soul where the Word dwells, the inward canticle of thanksgiving. The soul leads all creation to the feet of its God and its Lord, that He may receive homage from every creature."

The Bread of Angels

The Eucharistic motif of today's Introit becomes explicit in the Offertory Antiphon. (This is why I said yesterday that the Proper of the Mass is an integral whole.) As the priest goes to the altar today, the Church sings, "The Lord opened the doors of heaven and rained manna on them for food; he gave them the bread of heaven, man ate the bread of angels, alleluia" (Ps 77:23-25). The priest goes to the altar precisely for this: that the Lord might open before him, for the sake of all those who stand behind him, the doors of heaven. The true Manna, the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of Angels, descends from heaven to become the food of mortal wayfarers.

Year of the Eucharist and Year of the Priest

One final thought: when the Servant of God Pope John Paul II announced the Year of the Eucharist in 2004, he placed it under the sign of today's Gospel of Emmaus. He asked the whole Church to take up the prayer of the disciples on the road: Mane nobiscum, Domine (Lk 24:29) -- "Abide with us, Lord."

The Year of the Eucharist was more than a passing observance; it was a grace of conversion in the strictest sense of the word: a turning toward the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, a rekindling of the fire that burned in the hearts of the disciples of Emmaus. The Year of the Eucharist was a beginning, not an end. The Year of the Priest announced by Pope Benedict XVI on March 16, 2009 is, I think, intrinsically related to the Year of the Eucharist. It represents an opportunity to enter more deeply into the adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Christ for the sake of a holier priesthood, of a priesthood purified and renewed.

Examination of Conscience

We would do well today, five years after the Year of the Eucharist, to make an examination of conscience based on Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum, Domine.

-- Are we conscious of the Eucharistic finality of all we think, say, and do?
-- Have we grown in the grace of Eucharistic amazement?
-- Has the tabernacle become for us, to use Pope John Paul's expression, "a kind of magnetic pole attracting an ever greater number of souls"?
-- What have we done to respond individually and corporately to the call to Eucharistic adoration?
-- What have we done with the unique grace offered us five years ago?
-- How has it changed us?

We will be held accountable for the Year of the Eucharist, just as we will be held accountable for the Year of the Priest that will open on June 19th, solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These are moments of grace for the universal Church. "Much will be asked of the man to whom much has been given; more will be expected of him, because he was entrusted with more" (Lk 12:48). "Listen, you that have ears, to the message the Spirit has for the churches" (Ap 2:7).

Spatium laetissimum

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Monday of Pascha

I first preached this homily in 1996. It may yet be useful to those of you who are beginning to discover the four steps of that mystic dance to the altar that we call lectio divina.

Haec Dies

Great and glorious Pascha is eight days and it is one day. Every day this week, we shall repeat the chant of Haec dies: "This is the day (always today, not yesterday) the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad therein" (Ps 117:24). We have entered into the Church's spatium laetissimum, into the holy Pentecost, the fifty-day pledge and foretaste of her eternal gladness in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Life of Christ and Life of His Church

Have you noticed that we begin today the reading of the Acts of the Apostles? Have you asked yourself why? It is because the life the risen Jesus and the life of His Bride, the Church, are one and the same life: a doxological life facing the Father in the fire of the Holy Spirit. The Acts of the Apostles recount the life of the Church; the life of the Church is the life of the risen Jesus extended to his members in the sacramenta paschalia, the sacraments of initiation.

The life of the risen Jesus flows through His members. He is the living vine, we, nourished by the sacred mysteries of His Body and Blood, are the fruit-bearing branches. We read the Acts of the Apostles beginning today to proclaim it for all to hear: the life of the Church is the life of the risen Christ, a life hidden in God. "Your life is His with Christ in God," says St. Paul. "When Christ who is our life appears, then you--Bride of Christ, Body of Christ--will appear with him in glory" (Col 3:4).

Holy Preaching and Lectio Divina

One of the first manifestations of Christ living in the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit is the charism of holy preaching. Where the Word is proclaimed, the risen Christ is really and truly present. In today's First Reading, Saint Peter begins to use one of Our Lord's most precious Paschal gifts to the Church: the intelligence of sacred Scripture. Appearing to the apostles, after His Resurrection, the Lord Jesus said to them: "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! (Which prophets? Those whom we read at the great Paschal Vigil, but above all, the holy prophet David, the psalmist of Christ.) And beginning with Moses (just as we did at the Vigil with our readings from Genesis and Exodus) and all the prophets (just as we did at the Vigil with Isaiah, Baruch and Ezekiel), He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Lk 24:25-27). This is the principle of lectio divina: all of scripture concerns Christ, allows us to hear His voice, to contemplate His face, to penetrate the secrets of His heart.

And Our Lord said to His apostles: "These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures" (Lk 24:44-45). This is the gift of the risen Jesus to the apostles; in today's First Reading we see and hear Saint Peter putting the gift to use.

Psalm 15

Peter, who in the Passion account on Good Friday trembled in the presence of a servant girl, trembles now with the awesome power of the Holy Spirit. And in the light of the Holy Spirit, he unveils to his hearers the mystery of Christ in David's Psalm 15. "For David says concerning him (concerning Jesus Christ), 'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken (the relationship of the Lord Jesus and the Eternal Father); therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced (the Heart of Jesus: gladness in the presence of the Father!); moreover my flesh will dwell in hope (the flesh of God woven by the Holy Spirit in Mary's virgin womb, nourished at her breast, crucified and laid in the tomb). For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades (the descent into hell commemorated on Holy Saturday), nor let thy Holy One see corruption (Quoniam tu solus sanctus, we sang in the Gloria). Thou hast made known to me the ways of life (Resurrection!); thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence (with thy presence, Father!)." Peter opens his Psalter and discovers Christ! Here, Peter exercising the charism of holy preaching, gives his hearers a Pentecostal initiation into the practice of lectio divina.

Meditatio

But there is still more. There is another way of drawing near to Jesus. Lectio leads to meditatio. The holy women of the Gospel with their paschal dance in three movements teach us this. Meditatio is the movement from the text on the sacred page to the adorable person of Jesus. In lectio, Jesus comes up to us (in His Word) and greets us. The divine initiative always precedes the human response. Then the women, came up to Jesus. This is our meditatio: the movement towards the risen Jesus who, in His word, draws near to us first.

Oratio

Secondly, the holy women take hold of the feet of Our Lord. How do we take hold of the pierced feet of the Lord Jesus? By grasping them firmly in oratio. Oratio is clinging to the feet of Jesus. Where are His feet? In the sacred text. Those words that leap off the page and present them to your lips to be kissed represent the feet of Jesus. Hold them firmly, do not let them go.

Contemplatio

Thirdly, the holy women adore Him. This means that they are completely liquified by the love that pours out of the wounds in His feet. The heart liquified by love becomes pure adoration. This is contemplatio. This is what the holy women teach us, preaching to us by means of their Paschal dance in three movements.

The Hour Has Come

The steps of the mystic dance lead us to the altar. There, time gives place to eternity; there, the risen and ascended Christ glorifies the Father in us, having gathered us to Himself in the unity of the Holy Spirit. "Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son that the Son may glorify Thee" (Jn 17:1). This is the life of the risen and ascended Christ--the glory of the Father--this is the life of the Church. Taste it in His Body given for you. Drink deeply of it from the precious chalice of his Blood.

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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