Priests in pilgrimage to Your Heart

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I preached this homily to the Reverend Fathers of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, to mark the closing of the Year of the Priest on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, 11 June 2010.

And now, already, we have crossed the threshold,
not only of Your feast, but also of Your mystery,
O Pierced One.
For four days we, Your priests, have been in pilgrimage to Your Heart.
It was the light of Your Eucharistic Face that drew us on,
compelling us, impelling to seek in its radiance
the wound in Your side.

Now before us lies the door
opened not by the turn of a key
but by the thrust of a lance,
and beyond the door the abode of love.
"He has brought me to the banqueting house,
and is banner over me was love" (Ct 2:4).

We opened our breviaries to First Vespers
and found there not the mere form of words
but the traces of a burning, blazing Word
-- Your Heart --
and beneath the text
embers glowing
waiting to be fanned again into flame
by a mingling of Spirit-Breath with ours,
breath well spent in the chants of Your Church.

The Spirit came again to the help of our weakness,
loosing our tongues for the praise of Love wounded and wounding,
teaching Love's own language:
strange to those in exile from Your Heart
but now become -- O wonder!--
our native tongue.

Strange and blessed
this language of Your Church,
spilling fire in antiphons
and rivers of light in psalms,
infusing Your prayer, O Christ, Eternal Son, Eternal Priest
-- nothing less than that --
into all of us who know not how to pray as we ought.

Your Heart's prayer
poured into every aching emptiness of ours.
Your Heart's song
rising in our silence.
Your Heartbeat
making us bold
by a gift of words not of our making.
And in those words Heart speaks to heart.

In them
Your Heart speaks to the Father;
and the Father's heart to yours.
In them Your Heart sings to Your Church, Your Bride;
and her heart sings to yours.
This is Love's exchange,
hidden from the learned and the clever
but revealed to little ones,
splashed like pure water on the lips of children
to delight the Father
and to fall all shining onto the cracked and dusty face
of a world grown old in thirst.

You stood up once
as you stand before us now,
-- it was the last day of the feast, the great day --
and cried out, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink;
out of His heart shall flow rivers of living water" (cf. Jn 7:37-38).
You said this about the Spirit
that blazes from Your face --
and rushes from Your open side
in water and in blood.

Where is the heart held aloft,
the heart become a chalice to catch the torrent in its flow?
Where are hands to press that chalice
to the lips of those who, with weary step,
return from empty cisterns?
My heart?
For this I give it
and for this I give my hands.
My heart to cup the flow of love,
my hands to tip the chalice.

It is Your Face, O Christ, that we came seeking,
the Face that sought us first,
Your Eucharistic Face seen now as through a glass darkly,
a polished monstrance crystal cut by faith.
And we all, with unveiled face,
beholding Your glory veiled here,
are being changed into Your likeness (cf. 2 Cor 3:18)
and drawn beyond the threshold wound,
Your Heart's pierced portal.
"Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away." (Ct 2:13-14).

It is time for us to be like the nesting dove
time for us to spread our wings
and, lifted by the Spirit, to hide in the cleft of the rock.
There, "they shall hunger no more,
neither thirst any more;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat" (Rev 7:16).
Pass through the narrow gate.

Priests, apostles of the Sacred Heart,
sent out from that secret place,
be a dove made white in the Blood,
and like the dove, after every mission far-flung or near
to it return to be silent and adore.

Adorers of the Sacred Heart
we will all of us be in the end
for adoration will have the last word
as it must have the first.
"The hour is coming and now is,
when the true adorers shall adore the Father
in spirit and in truth,
for such the Father seeks to adore Him" (Jn 4:23).

Adoration then will be the only word,
an ocean of light dissolving every other discourse
and bathing a broken world
in the healing water and the cleansing blood.
"And He who sat upon the throne said,
'Behold, I make all things new'" (Rev 21:5).

"And they shall see His face,
and His name shall be on their foreheads.
And night shall be no more;
they need no light of lamp or sun,
for the Lord God will be their light" (Rev 22:4-5).
O Eucharist, Sun of Life,
radiating the Heart's flame of fire!
O Host burning and yet not consumed!

"And Moses hid his face,
for he was afraid to look at God" (Ex 3:6)?
Gentle Christ, humble hidden Bread,
to look at you is all refreshment.
Irresistible God.

"After this I looked,
and lo, in the heaven an open door!
And the voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said,
'Come up hither'" (Rev 4:1).

And I looked and looked
and looked at Him whom they have pierced (cf. Zech 12:10).
"And the angel who talked with me came again,
and waked me, like a man that is wakened out of his sleep.
And he said to me, 'What do you see?'" (Zech 4:1-2).
"A Eucharistic Face," I said,
"and an Open 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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