Sapientia aperuit os mutum

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Thursday of Pascha

Your victorious hand, O Lord,
have they magnified, with one accord, alleluia:
for wisdom has opened the mouth of the dumb,
and made the tongues of infants vocal with praise,
alleuia, alleluia (Wis 10:21-22).

Praise of Wisdom

Today’s Introit, the fifth of eight given us by the Church during this week of glory, is drawn from the 10th chapter of the book of Wisdom. The passage that is sung in the Introit is best understood by placing it in its context: a praise of the wonders wrought by Holy Wisdom during the Exodus.

“She . . . led them out on their miraculous journey, affording them shelter by day and starry radiance by night. She made a passage for them through the Red Sea, brought them safely through those leagues of water, and churned up the bodies of their drowned enemy from those unfathomed depths. So, enriched by the spoils of the godless, they extolled, O Lord, thy holy name, proclaimed with one voice thy sovereign power; Wisdom opened the dumb mouths, and made the lips of infants vocal with praise” (Wis 10:17-21).

The Mysteries of Initiation

Who is Holy Wisdom? As we know from the Great O Antiphon of December 17th, Wisdom, Sapientia, designates none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father. The Church confesses that Christ led out the catechumens on their miraculous journey into the font of Holy Baptism, and out of the font to the altar of His Sacrifice. The neophytes are characterized, above all, by the praise of Christ that comes to flower on their lips in the celebration of the Eucharist.

The Gift of Praise

Divine grace confers upon the soul the gift of praise. Before Baptism, we are all dumb, that is, incapable of offering to God what the Letter to the Hebrews calls “a continual sacrifice of praise to God, the tribute of lips that give thanks to his name” (Heb 13:15).

Little Children

The grace of Christ makes the lips of infants vocal with praise. Who are these infants? Our Lord himself reveals their identity. “At that time, Jesus was filled with gladness by the Holy Spirit, and said, O Father who art Lord of heaven and earth, I give thee praise that thou hast hidden all this from the wise and the prudent, and revealed it to little children. Be it so, Lord, since this finds favour in thy sight” (Lk 10:21).

A Grave Spiritual Sickness

A soul that finds it tedious to lift her voice to God in praise, a soul that has forgotten the language of thanksgiving, of blessing, of adoration, is suffering from the gravest spiritual sickness: self-absorption. What is the remedy for self-absorption? The recovery of grateful awe in the presence of God. The rediscovery of the infinite beauty of God, of the immensity of His Mercy, of the splendour of His Truth. If we confess our sins, beginning with the pernicious sin of self-absorption, the mercy of God will render us capable of confessing Him, that is, of praising Him in awestruck awareness of His majesty.

The Angels

A soul preoccupied with herself cannot move beyond herself into the praise taught us by the Angels. The Angels have no eyes for themselves. They have eyes only for God. Seeing God as He is, they ceaselessly cry out, “Holy, Holy Holy!” What Pope Benedict XVI said last September at the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz in Austria is perhaps what we most need to hear in those moments when, being entrapped within our limitations, we cannot move beyond them to praise. Listen to the Holy Father:

God is Worthy of Being Praised

“In the life of monks . . . prayer takes on a particular importance: it is the heart of their calling. Their vocation is to be men of prayer. In the patristic period the monastic life was likened to the life of the angels. It was considered the essential mark of the angels that they are adorers. Their very life is adoration. This should hold true also for monks. Monks pray first and foremost not for any specific intention, but simply because God is worthy of being praised. “Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus! – Praise the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy is eternal!”: so we are urged by a number of Psalms (e.g. Ps 106:1). Such prayer for its own sake, intended as pure divine service, is rightly called officium. It is “service” par excellence, the “sacred service” of monks. It is offered to the triune God who, above all else, is worthy “to receive glory, honour and power” (Rev 4:11), because he wondrously created the world and even more wondrously renewed it.”

Pray today that the Adorable Body and Precious Blood of Christ may heal us of the paralysis of self-absorption, and sanctify our tongues for the praise of Him who waits for us, at every moment, to “sing to Him a new song” (Ps 98:1).

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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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