Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

Ash Wednesday
March 9, 2011, 11:59 am
Filed under: Devotional | Tags: , ,

There really is a fresh feeling to Lent, as one gets out a new volume of the Divine Office, and says the Invitatory: Christum Dominum pro nobis tentatum et passum, venite adoremus; Come let us adore Christ the Lord, who for our sakes was tested and suffered. The weekday Office Hymn reminds us that “Now is the acceptable time, given by God, when a sickly world is healed by the medicine of abstinence.” The Mattins Psalm (102/3) bids us bless the Lord, who is merciful and compassionate, before we hear Isaiah, raising his voice like a trumpet, and expounding to the people in what the true fast, acceptable to God, consists: not simply the outward forms of sackcloth and abstinence, but a commitment to justice and charity. St Clement follows this up by exhorting us to think of the blood of Christ, shed for us: what greater motivation can there be for seeking a renewal of our lives?

At Lauds we praise Christ the Sun of Justice, before casting ourselves down in penitence, as we say the “Miserere” psalm, followed by Jeremiah’s poignant lamentation over fallen and ruined Jerusalem. Yet the “Jubilate” lifts our spirits again, as does the reminder from Deuteronomy in the short lesson that we are God’s own people, that he has chosen us and loves us. The Benedictus antiphon reminds us of our Lord’s warning, not to put on long faces when we fast, like the hypocrites. We are soldiers on manoeuvres, engaged in spiritual exercises to prepare ourselves for the moral struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil.

I commend to you J.M.Neale’s hymn:

“Christian, dost thou see them on the holy ground,
how the troops of Midian prowl and prowl around?
Christian, up and smite them, counting gain but loss;
smite them by the merit of the holy Cross.”

The Cross is our standard, leading us into our spiritual warfare. It will shine out ever more clearly as Lent continues. Follow it, and “in this sign conquer!


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