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.

 

Bible Reading Fellowship – JOIN!

Greetings in the Lord Jesus!

Are you interested in reading God’s Word on a daily basis?  Are you interested in joining others who do?  Join with me and others!

The plan is quite easy.

You send me a message and I will mail to you a pocket edition of the New Testament which has marked within it a daily reading plan, and you will then be on the same plan as a bunch of people who are prayerfully encouraging each other in the Lord!

And, if you want to get into a communal reflection email, you can see what other people think about those same Scriptures each day.

It’s great!

So, send me a message, and I will get you started.

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Here’s my reflection from today’s readings:

Biblical Reading Fellowship

Mt 22: 23-33

The Sadducees use a tricky example to test Jesus about the resurrection of the dead, since they don’t believe in the resurrection.  But what they don’t know is this: Jesus Christ has dwelt in Heaven from all eternity, and He knows all about what happens up there! So it’s not that hard of a question for Him; it’s like asking Him a simple question about His House; He knows everything about it!  It is so consoling to know that whatever questions or doubts I have about Heaven, Jesus already knows all about it and will take care of me.

34-40.

It’s like a back and forth game.  The Pharisees despise the Sadducees and the Sadducees despise the Pharisees.  And they are both taking their turns to see who can silence this guy.  Since He spoke so authoritatively about Heaven and our hypotheticals, let’s test Him on the Law and absolutes.  And He nailed it.  Why did He nail it?  Because He wrote it! Jesus Christ is the Word of the Father; therefore, He is the Author of the Law and knows its perfect application.

Acts 26

Paul shares his conversion story, again!  He loves to share how he came to follow Jesus.  We should remember those different moments as well, and be excited to share them with others often.

v.23: Paul claims that the Jews were waiting for the Messiah (the Christ) and that the prophecies indicated that the Christ was 1) to suffer; 2) to rise from the dead; 3) proclaim light to the Jews (people); 4) proclaim light to the Gentiles.

v.28-29: It is clear that Paul’s goal is to win people over to become Christians.  And they saw His goal.  We ought to make our goal clear – we are trying to win people to the love of Jesus Christ.

I Am A Red Gem

I am glad to share with you a beautiful moment from prayer.  Jesus showed me how He is able to make me holy, by both an image and a work in me.  I am confident that He wants to show His goodness to you as well!!

Pierced to the Heart

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I was pierced to the heart while reading the Gospel of John.  Jesus is telling his disciples that He is going to become like a grain of wheat, which needs to fall to the ground and die so that it can yield great fruit.  He is predicting His suffering and crucifixion along with His glorious Resurrection.  He is ALSO binding us to the same way, and he says “He who loves his life with lose it; he who is an enemy to his own life in this world will keep it, so as to live eternally.

You’ve heard it said that you must die to yourself.  The need to die to ourselves is for the purpose of finding eternal life.

There is a legend that Peter was leaving the city of Rome to save his life.  As he was leaving, He met Jesus on the way and asked Jesus where He was going.  Jesus said that He was going into the city of Rome to be crucified again.  Peter was distressed and said to Jesus that he would go with Him.  As Peter turned to go back into the city, Jesus disappeared.  Peter knew then that Jesus had appeared to him to remind Peter that he must bear witness to Jesus.  Peter must lose his physical life so that he could gain eternal life in Heaven.

domine-quo-vadis.jpg

As I read this passage today, I recognize that Jesus is reminding me to stop living for myself, and that I must live for Him, so to gain eternal life.  John 12:25 pierced my heart today.

THE DEVIL’S DEVICES IV of VI – “I JUST WANNA…” – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 30

INTRO

Identifying where you are along this spectrum is important to know what needs to be done.
The categories, again:
deep bondage: a person who thinks not of living in holiness, stuck in sin.
sloth: a person who would like to live in holiness, but without the energy to do anything about it.
delusion: a person who thinks they are living in holiness, but is far from it.
front lines: a person who has entered into the full battle, and has a great deal at stake.

TOPIC AT HAND

We now turn to our third category: delusion.  You have left ‘deep bondage’ and have begun to live in the light of the Gospel.  You have left ‘sloth’ and grace has brought you the necessary helps to move forward in discipleship.  Now what?

Our teacher gives us very good helps for identifying and living in the reality of things.

Some examples of what people say in this area:
“I just want to be a Saint and be really holy.”
“I just want to love everybody perfectly and never have any troubles at all.”
“I just want to pray a lot and be spiritual.”
“I just want to experience deep interior movements of God and become a mystic.”

Or something like that in other words, or even without words, with presumptuous actions and decisions.

Many people become spiritually delusional.

Massive distinction to help in this stage of the Christian life: 1) where do I want to be (a saint, really holy, perfect in every way, at peace with all people) and 2) where am I currently (imperfect in many ways).

We must have a goal, but we cannot pretend that we can live in that goal prematurely.

REALITY CHECK

For any of the statements above that began with ‘just’ (I just wanna…), there is no ‘just’.  There is no escaping the actual realities of our lives.  If we want to ‘just’ be any of the above, we have to actually engage in the exact activities, difficulties, and seemingly-in-the-way barriers that are right in front of us.

“I want to be a Saint and be really holy but I have friends that keep tempting me.”  Guess what? Dealing with those relationships well is exactly how you will be come a Saint and be really holy.

“I just want to love everybody perfectly and never have any troubles at all, but there are difficult people and things don’t always go my way.”  Guess what? How are you supposed to learn to love perfectly if you don’t get to practice on difficult people?  And how are you supposed to grow if no troubles come your way?  Who learns without studying?  Who gets better without practice?  Who gets in shape without exercise?

“I just want to pray a lot and be spiritual but I get distracted by all of the world’s stuff.”  Guest what?  “Who can love the God they do not see if they do not love the person they can see?” – St. John.  To grow in spirituality is never disconnected from growth in love of neighbor.

“I just want to experience deep interior movements of God and become a mystic but prayer doesn’t seem to go that way.”  Guess what?  The mystics didn’t just sit around and become mystics.  They had to travel through difficulties, dryness, distraction, times of great weakness and pain.

Moral of the story: To attain the goal means to travel the real road that arrives there.  We aren’t there, but we are headed there.  “Pick up your cross and follow ME.” – Jesus.

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 30 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 31: The Devil’s Devices V of VI

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all of chapter 30:

Our malignant foe, thus repulsed in his first and second assault and stratagem, has recourse to a third, which is, to turn away our attention from the enemies who are close at hand to injure and assail us, and to fill us with resolutions and desires after higher degrees of perfection.

Hence we are continually being wounded; yet we pay no attention to our wounds, and looking upon these resolutions as already fulfilled, we take pride in them in various ways.

And while we cannot endure the least thing or the slightest word which crosses our will, we were our time in long meditations and resolutions to endure the acutest sufferings on earth or in purgatory for the love of God.

And because our inferior part feels no repugnance at these things in the distance, we flatter ourselves, miserable creatures as we are, into the conceit that we belong to the class of patient and heroic sufferers.

To avoid this snare, resolve to fight manfully against the enemies who are close at hand, and actually waging war against you. You will thus discover whether your resolutions are real or imaginary, weak or strong; and so you will go on to virtue and perfection by the beaten and royal road.

But against enemies who are not wont to trouble you I do not advise you to take up arms, unless there appear a probability of their making an attack at some future time. In this case it is lawful to make resolutions beforehand, that you may be found strong and prepared.

Do not, however, judge of your resolutions by their effects, even though you should have long and faithfully exercised yourself in virtue; but be very humble with regard to them; fear yourself and your own weakness, and trust in God, and seek His help by frequent prayer to strengthen and preserve you in all dangers, and especially from the very slightest presumption or self-confidence.

For in this case, though we may not be able to overcome some slight defects which our Lord sometimes leaves in us in order to greater, humility and self-knowledge, and for the protection of some virtue, we may yet be permitted to form purposes of aspiring to higher degrees of perfection.

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