Lent 2008: February 2008 Archives

In Spiritu Humilitatis

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Tuesday Within the Third Week of Lent

Daniel 3:25–43
Matthew 18:21–35

Azarias Found Utterance

Look for a moment at the context of today's First Reading: the magnificent prayer of Azarias "as he stood in the heart of the fire" (Dan 3:23). If you opened the Book of Daniel in your lectio divina this morning, you will have remarked that the prayer of Azarias comes just before the Canticle of the Three Young Men. It is the first of three movements in a glorious symphony of prayer: Daniel 3:26–45; Daniel 3:52–56; and Daniel 3:58–88.

The Benedicite

The Benedicite or Canticle of the Three Young Men is familiar to all who pray the Divine Office. The Church places its lyrical verses on our lips every Sunday, Solemnity, and Feast at Lauds. In addition, the Roman Missal proposes that the priest say the Canticle of the Three Young Men daily after Mass. It is part of the official liturgical Thanksgiving After Mass. Blessed Abbot Columba Marmion was faithful to saying the Benedicite after Mass 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 . . . . What a wonderful song is that all creation sung thus by the priest at the moment when he is united to the Eternal High-Priest, the one Mediator, the Divine Word by whom all was created!

The Flames of Vice

The Missal provides an incisive little Collect after the Canticle. The Roman Rite never minces words when it comes to sin . . . and grace. I so appreciate the realism of this prayer that the Church would have her ministers say daily after Mass.

"O God who didst allay the flames of the furnace
for the three young men,
in thy mercy, grant that we thy servants,
may not be consumed by the flames of vice."

Yonder Scarlet Stain

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Tuesday Within the Second Week of Lent

Isaiah 1:10, 16–20
Matthew 23:1–12

Come back, says the Lord,
and make trial of me.
Crimson-dyed be your guilt,
it shall turn snow-white;
like wool new-washed yonder scarlet stain (Is 1:18).

Innocence Restored

Were more comforting words than these ever spoken to souls besmirched by sin? Such is the hope held out to each one of us: a snow-white purity and an innocence like wool new-washed. God Himself longs to restore us to the innocence lost by sin. For this did the Lamb of God pour out His Blood in all the sufferings of His bitter Passion. Saint John said it: "The Blood of the Son of God Jesus Christ washes us clean from all sin" (1 Jn 1:8).

The Blood of the Lamb

The Blood of the Lamb makes saints out of sinners. The Blood of the Lamb cleanses hearts defiled by the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Blood of the Lamb heals the soul's deepest wounds and cures the festering malignancies of sin.

Only one thing can come between the sinner and the Precious Blood of the Lamb, and that one thing is pride: the pride of self-righteousness. If you can save yourself, you have no need of Jesus whose very Name means "God saves." If you can heal yourself, you have no need of the Divine Physican. If you can cleanse your own conscience, you have no need of the Precious Blood. But the truth is that we can do none of these things. We need to be saved. We need to be healed. We need to be washed in the Blood of the Lamb.

The Power of the Blood

The Lord asks, "Will you think better of it, and listen? Or will you refuse and defy me?" (Is 1:19). Woe to the recalcitrant and the obstinate. Woe to those who seek to justify themselves. Woe to those who resist the grace of God and rebel against His plan. Blessed are the humble. Blessed are those who abandon themselves to grace. Blessed are those who trust in power of the Precious Blood.

I Have Sought Thy Face

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I arrived home from Ireland last evening and returned to my post this morning. The "mission" in Ireland was in every way blessed. Even the weather was lovely! I made many new friends in Ireland and saw old ones with joy. After three days at Knock in County Mayo, I went on to Drumshanbo in County Leitrim to preach a retreat to the Poor Clares of the Perpetual Adoration Convent. People from the surrounding towns were present at daily Mass in the morning and at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the evening. Thanks to John Flynn who drove me from one place to another, I had the opportunity to visit two families of Irish "Travellers" to pray with them and bless their sick. I was humbled and blessed by their faith.


The Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 12: 1-4
2 Timothy 1: 8-10
Matthew 17: 1-9

Vultus Christi

My heart hath said to Thee:
I have sought Thy Face.
Thy Face, O Lord, will I still seek:
turn not away Thy Face from me.
V. The Lord is my light and my salvation:
whom shall I fear?
Psalm 26: 8-9, 1.

Today's sublime Introit (Tibi dixit cor meum) summons us to lift our eyes to the transfigured Christ and to fix our gaze on His Holy Face. One who seeks the Face of Christ will find the strength to do whatever God asks of him.

To seek the Face of Christ is to place all one's trust in Him. It is to await from Him all that one needs. The contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus
— exorcises the fears that paralyze us spiritually;
— frees us from anxiety and fills the soul with peace;
— purifies us of our sins and opens us to an infusion of grace;
— glorifies Our Lord because He desires that we should discover on His Face the glory of the Father (2 Cor 4:6), and the secrets of His Heart.

The Example of Abram

Abram trusted God with his life, his family, his possessions, his past, his present, and his future. It was Abram's faith expressed in an unconditional trust in God that enabled him to leave "his country, his kindred, and his father's house" (Gen 12:1). Abram consented to such a radical uprooting because he was deeply rooted in the faith that places no limits on God's faithfulness to what He has promised.

One who seeks the Face of Jesus is saying, albeit wordlessly, what Abram demonstrated by setting out as the Lord commanded him: "I trust Thee, Lord, with my life. I trust Thee with my family, my loved ones, my possessions, my past, present, my future . . . and even with my sins." There is no better place to do this than in the presence of the Eucharistic Face of Christ.

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.

Donations for Silverstream Priory