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Archive for September, 2012

In the fiery heavens
are now two bodies:
one of the resurrection
and one assumed.

In bodies anew
we meet them there,
see face to face,
known and knowing.

Our faith will close,
our hope made whole;
save lasting charity,
in the city of love.

With bright new eyes,
we see their face:
the Virgin immaculate,
her Son still pierced.

With angelic hymns
of incorporeal song,
our bodies made new
and Mary’s still whole.

C.H. McCants, “Heavenly Bodies” (2012)

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Et ecce unus accedens, ait illi: Magister bone, quid boni faciam ut habeam vitam æternam? Qui dixit ei: Quid me interrogas de bono? Unus est bonus, Deus. Si autem vis ad vitam ingredi, serva mandata. Dicit illi: Quæ? Jesus autem dixit: Non homicidium facies; non adulterabis; non facies furtum; non falsum testimonium dices; honora patrem tuum, et matrem tuam, et diliges proximum tuum sicut teipsum. Dicit illi adolescens: Omnia hæc custodivi a iuventute mea: quid adhuc mihi deest? Ait illi Jesus: Si vis perfectus esse, vade, vende quæ habes, et da pauperibus, et habebis thesaurum in cælo: et veni, sequere me. (Mt 19.16-21)

And behold one coming along said to Him, “Good Master, what good must I do to have eternal life? And He said to him, “Why are you asking me about what is good? God alone is good. Therefore, if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which?” Then Jesus answered him, “You shall not murder; you shall not be an adulterer; you shall not commit theft; you will not give a false testimony; honor your father and your mother, and care for your neighbor as if it were yourself.” The young man said to Him, “I have kept all these since my youth; what do I lack even still?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow me.” (Translation mine)

It is the commandments of God that compels us not to sin; it is the grace of God in Christ that frees us from the need of our possessions, allowing us to give them over to the poor, and to go and follow Him.

From tonight’s Vespers:

Because he has given freedom to the destitute who called to him,
to the poor, whom no-one will hear.
He will spare the poor and the needy,
he will keep their lives safe. (Ps 72)

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A sermon of St Gregory the Great on his feast day:

For the love of Christ I do not spare myself in preaching him ‘Son of man, I have appointed you as watchman to the house of Israel.’ Note that Ezekiel, whom the Lord sent to preach his word, is described as a watchman. Now a watchman always takes up his position on the heights so that he can see from a distance whatever approaches. Likewise whoever is appointed watchman to a people should live a life on the heights so that he can help them by taking a wide survey.

These words are hard to utter, for when I speak it is myself that I am reproaching. I do not preach as I should nor does my life follow the principles I preach so inadequately.

I do not deny that I am guilty, for I see my torpor and my negligence. Perhaps my very recognition of failure will win me pardon from a sympathetic judge. When I lived in a monastic community I was able to keep my tongue from idle topics and to devote my mind almost continually to the discipline of prayer. Since taking on my shoulders the burden of pastoral care, I have been unable to keep steadily recollected because my mind is distracted by many responsibilities.

I am forced to consider questions affecting churches and monasteries and often I must judge the lives and actions of individuals; at one moment I am forced to take part in certain civil affairs, next I must worry over the incursions of barbarians and fear the wolves who menace the flock entrusted to my care; now I must accept political responsibility in order to give support to those who preserve the rule of law; now I must bear patiently the villainies of brigands, and then I must confront them, yet in all charity.

My mind is sundered and torn to pieces by the many and serious things I have to think about. When I try to concentrate and gather all my intellectual resources for preaching, how can I do justice to the sacred ministry of the word? I am often compelled by the nature of my position to associate with men of the world and sometimes I relax the discipline of my speech. If I preserved the rigorously inflexible mode of utterance that my conscience dictates, I know that the weaker sort of men would recoil from me and that I could never attract them to the goal I desire for them. So I must frequently listen patiently to their aimless chatter. Because I am weak myself I am drawn gradually into idle talk and I find myself saying the kind of thing that I didn’t even care to listen to before. I enjoy lying back where I once was loath to stumble.

Who am I — what kind of watchman am I? I do not stand on the pinnacle of achievement, I languish rather in the depths of my weakness. And yet the creator and redeemer of mankind can give me, unworthy though I be, the grace to see life whole and power to speak effectively of it. It is for love of him that I do not spare myself in preaching him.

Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes, ut vigilemus cum Christo et requiescamus in pace.

Keep us safe, Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ and rest in peace.

Brothers of Holy Cross Abbey before Vigils (website).

vig·i·lant

adj., on the alert; watchful.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin vigilāre, to be watchful]

See also:

Through the night

The Feast of the Nativity

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