Turn On Us Thy Healing Face

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Two strophes from this morning's hymn at Lauds seemed to come to life as I sang them in the sunlight of this new Day of the Lord:

Iesu, labantes respice
et nos videndo corrige;
si respicis, lapsus cadunt
fletuque culpa solvitur.

Tu, lux, refulge sensibus
mentisque somnum discute;
te nostra vox primum sonet,
et vota solvamus tibi.

The Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman translates:

Jesu, Master! when we sin,
Turn on us Thy healing Face;
It will melt the offence within
Into penitential grace.

Beam on our bewildered mind,
Till its dreamy shadows flee;
Stones cry out where Thou hast shined,
Jesu! musical with Thee.

Praying Audibly

Diocesan priests, deacons, and others who, for one reason or another, pray the Hours alone will find that if they recite or chant them audibly, respecting the rhythm and pauses of choral prayer, the sacred texts more easily descend into the heart. There one begins to experience the sacramental quality of the Divine Office; it is, in fact, a holy communion with the prayer of the ascended and risen Christ, our Eternal High Priest, to the Father.

With the Body

Whenever possible, even in private recitation, adopt the traditional bodily attitudes and gestures of the Divine Office: standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing, and signing oneself with the Cross. Saint Benedict enjoined those of his monks who found themselves far from the oratory of the monastery at the hour of prayer to perform the Work of God "on bended knee", that is, without omitting the body's tribute to the Divine Majesty (RSB 50).

In a Sacred Space

In this age of locked churches and the decline of parish-based neighbourhoods, it is not always possible to pray in the presence of the Most Holy Sacrament. A domestic oratory, even if it is no more than a corner in one's apartment or an empty closet refreshed with a coat of paint, is a permanent invitation to return to prayer faithfully. The soul finds peace in repairing to a space of beauty set aside for the glory of God. There, by means of sacred images, the "Healing Face" of Our Lord shines into the soul, while the Mother of God, the Angels and the saints offer the comfort of a familiar presence.


This is certainly true. As you sit and vocalize the prayers, the psalms and canticles, they move into the very core of your existence. Slowly you breathe them in and out, and find yourself immersed in the prayer of creation. On the other hand, when you pray the Liturgy of the Hours mentally, you finish without realizing you have begun. You're mental processes far outstrip your ability to incorporate the text into your prayer, and so the prayers run through you with little or no effect.

It is interesting that in the novitiate, we were always taught that the Office MUST be prayed (even when alone) with at LEAST the moving of the lips...and preferably in a low whisper---because the Office is never a 'private prayer,' even when prayed privately, it is always prayed with and for the entire Church...and indeed for the entire world! Thank you for your insights dear Father Mark. How precious your words are always!

In His great mercy,

Fr. Pius, who asks for your holy prayers!

I just recently learned the difference between 'healing' and 'cured'.

I will rest my weary mind and heart upon HIS Healing Face.

Thank you Fr. Mark.

Thank you Father for this. Contemplation of the Holy Face of our Divine Saviour is extremely important to me and more important yet with each succeeding year since my first stroke. At first, before my first stroke, it was rather more intellectual for me, a heartfelt devotion to be sure but studied and learnt by way of the Little Flower, but now my contemplation of the Holy Face is as central to my existence as breathing, as the beating of my heart.

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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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