Sacred Triduum: The Prayer of Poetry
Today begins the Sacred Triduum, the holiest time of the year. In these moments, sometimes I feel so deeply my human weakness and inadequacy and I say like Romans 8: “I do not know how to pray as I ought.” Come Holy Spirit, aid me in my weakness.
As I’ve prayed this Holy Week, I have been assisted in my weakness by poetry depicting Christ’s Sacred Heart and his love for us amidst suffering. If your heart needs assistance in these days, here is the poetry I’ve been praying with.
Rock of Ages
There is an everlasting home
Where contrite souls may hide,
Where death and danger dare not come–
The Savior’s side.
It was a cleft of matchless love
Opened when He had died;
When mercy hailed in world’s above,
That wounded side.
Hail, Rock of Ages, pierced for me,
The grave of all my pride;
Hope, peace and heaven are all in Thee,
Thy sheltering side.
There issued forth a double flood,
The sin-atoning tide,
In streams of water and of blood
From that dear side.
There is only fount of bliss,
In joy and sorrow tried;
No refuge for the heart like this–
A Saviour’s side.
Thither the Church, through all her days
Points as a faithful guide;
And celebrates with ceaseless praise
That spear-pierced side.
There is the golden gate of heaven,
An entrance for the Bride,
Where the sweet crown of life is given
Through Jesus’ side.
– M. Bridges
O Soul of Jesus
O Soul of Jesus, sick to death!
Thy blood and prayer together plead;
My sins have bowed Thee to the ground,
As the storm bows the feeble reed.
Deep waters have come in , O Lord!
All darkly on Thy human soul;
And clouds of supernatural gloom
Around Thee are allowed to roll.
My God! My God! and can it be
That I should sin so lightly now,
And think no more of evil thoughts
Than of the wind that waves the bough?
Shall it be always thus, O Lord?
Wilt Thou not work this hour in me
The grace of Thy passion merited,
Hatred of self and love of Thee?
Oh, by the pains of Thy pure love
Grant me the gift of holy fear;
And give me of Thy bloody sweat
To wash my guilty conscience clear?
Ever, when tempted, make me see,
Beneath the olive’s moon-pierced shade,
My God, alone, outstretched, and bruised,
And bleeding, on the earth He made.
– Fr. Faber
St. Francis Xavier’s Hymn of Love
O God, I love Thee for Thyself
And not that I may heaven gain,
Nor because those who love Thee not,
Must suffer hell’s eternal pain.
Thou, O my Jesus! Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails and spear
And manifold disgrace;
And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat and agony;
E’en death itself–and all for one
Who was Thine enemy.
Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the sake of winning heaven,
Or escaping hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught, not seeking a reward;
But, as Thyself hast loved me, O ever-loving Lord?
E’en so I love Thee, and will love, and in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God
And my eternal King.