Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Friday, March 2, 2012

As the sentinels wait for the dawn

I've been getting up at 6.oo every morning to go to the Station Churches. The Station Churches, for those of you who don't know, are a series of churches that the Pope would traditionally visit every day of Lent, saying a Mass at each one. Today, the church was Santi Apostoli (also known as I Dodici Apostoli) and the psalm was one of my favorites:130/129. "Out of the depths have I cried to you oh, Lord!"

One of the lines that always strikes me and struck me even more forcefully today was the line "My soul waits for the Lord/more than sentinels wait for the dawn." I often feel like one of those sentinels, coming to a church early in the morning, waking up nearly at dawn, and awaiting the coming of my God in physical and spiritual communion.

Part of this waiting is looking forward to the coming of the Lord. We want the arrival of the dawn (except when we're in bed) and welcome the light.

Christ is our light, he is our dawn. We have no need of light or lamp or sun because He is our light.

But are we ready? When the light comes, will we be asleep? Yes, Jesus exhorted his followers to stay awake, and St. Peter tells us to stay "sober and alert" to protect against attacks of the devil, but is staying awake all that is necessary?

The first reading was about the difference in what happens to the righteous man who falls to sin and the sinner who turns to righteousness. Obviously, the latter's life turns out better. What I find interesting is that Ezekiel uses a very particular wording. He speaks of the virtuous man turning away from virtue. I often use this imagery when discussing damnation because it makes a lot of sense to me. Since God would, nay could never actively will the eternal suffering of someone, it is because we turn from him and choose another path, the path of sin that we run from him and suffer damnation. The Burning Love of God has been rejected and is felt as the Fires of Hell. Then again, when the sinful man turns to face God, he encounters the Love of God as it is supposed to be encountered, face on. Which reminds me, one of the best moments of the Roman Canon in the new translation is when it mentions the "serene and kindly countenance" of God. The Face of God is something to be desired for it is the meaning of Peace and Love.

And then in the Gospel, Christ tells us (and his disciples at the time) that in order to be received into the Kingdom, we must be more righteous than the Pharisees. Now we all know how Christ thinks of the Pharisees--they're hypocrites only fit for hell, right? Maybe so, but he's not just being snarky. He's challenging his followers here, and if it's a challenge, that must mean that the Pharisees actually are to be emulated. Elsewhere Christ says to do what they say, not what they do, or something like that. It's the same idea. The Pharisees were righteous, but they damned themselves by turning away onto the path of Pride. What Christ is saying to his disciples and to us is "You may not be righteous, but turn to the path of righteousness...the same path that the Pharisees were on."

Lastly, Christ tells us that if we do not have everything settled with our neighbor, we must settle that before coming to the Altar to offer our sacrifice. Our sacrifice of course is His Sacrifice and it is completed here in earth in our reception of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion. This of course means that if we have sinned against our neighbor, we should not present ourselves for Holy Communion. Of course, as we know, venial sins are forgiven through a worthy reception of Communion, so we are talking grave sins. We are in fact talking about when he have actually turned our back on God. Imagine being presented to some important person, say a King or something and instead of facing him and honoring him, you turn your back on him. Obviously you are not ready to receive him and he will not receive you because you have turned against him. So it is with Christ the King. We must turn back to the path of virtue and then present ourselves in humility to receive our King in our sacrifice on the Altar.

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