“The saying ‘time is money’ is familiar, but a more correct version of it would be ‘time is life.’ Our life is measured out in time. What we spend time on is what we spend life on. Père Ghislain Lafont applies this truth to prayer:
I remember that one day a novice came to ask me: ‘But what does it mean to give oneself to prayer? What is praying?’ I proposed to him this definition: ‘To pray is to give time to God.’ Time, that is, a quantity measurable on one’s watch, because I believe that time is life. A man who uses his time to pray . . . truly shows to what point this activity directly ordered to God is important to him. It is a manner of laying down one’s life.”
—Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass
“It was much to the devil’s advantage to turn the priest around to the people, creating a charmed circle of neighborly affirmation that brought the experience of the Mass down to the level of a horizontal exchange, a back-and-forth in everyday speech. There is nothing transcendent about that; on the contrary, God is domesticated, tamed, manipulable — not a recipient of sacrifice but a subject of conversation.”
“I was hiking in the Adirondacks. I was standing on the bank of a wide, tumultuous river. The water was moving with incredible speed and ferocity. It looked dangerous, mighty, and much more powerful than I. Yet it was exactly as it should be, and in that, it possessed some kind of restfulness. As I watched it flow by, I felt a tinge of sadness, almost like envy but without the weightiness: how I wished to know my part in all of it, to move with that same confidence and serenity, unafraid of the gifts God has given – unafraid of letting his power crash its way through my life.
I have often felt that way when I’m in nature. I’ve never seen a tree going through an existential crisis – It must be nice to be so rooted, physically and metaphysically. But God became man, not a tree; so I’d rather take the tension.”
—Alanna Marie Boudreau
“Out of respect and honor for Matthew, the other Evangelists did not wish to give him his usual name. They called him Levi; for he had two names. But Matthew (according to the saying of Solomon, ‘The just man is the first to accuse himself,’ and again, ‘Confess your sins that you may be justified’) calls himself Matthew and a publican, to show his readers that no one need despair of salvation if he is converted to better things, since he himself was suddenly changed from a publican into an Apostle.”
I close my eyes, and while my lips murmur the words of the Breviary which I know by heart, I leave behind their literal meaning, and feel that I am in that endless land where the Church, militant and pilgrim, passes, walking towards the promised fatherland. I breathe with the Church in the same light by day, the same darkness by night; I see on every side of me the forces of evil that beset and assail Her; I find myself in the midst of Her battles and victories, Her prayers of anguish and Her songs of triumph, in the midst of the oppression of prisoners, the groans of the dying, the rejoicing of the armies and captains victorious. I find myself in their midst, but not as a passive spectator; nay rather, as one whose vigilance and skill, whose strength and courage can bear a decisive weight on the outcome of the struggle between good and evil, and upon the eternal destinies of individual men and of the multitude.”
Desístite, et agnóscite me Deum, excélsum in géntibus, excélsum in terra!
Desist! and confess that I am God, *
exalted among the nations, exalted upon the earth.
Wednesday of Holy Week | Ps 46:11
Ego autem semper tecum ero;
apprehendísti manum déxteram meam.
Yet with you I shall always be; *
you have hold of my right hand.
Thursday of the Lord’s Supper | Ps 73:23
Dómine, coram te est omne desidérium meum,
et gémitus meus te non latet.
O Lord, all my desire is before you; *
from you my groaning is not hid.
Friday of the Lord’s Passion and Death | Ps 38:10
Exsúltat ut gigas percúrrens viam.
A strong man runs his course with joy.
Holy Saturday | Ps 19:5
The more he wants to give, the more he makes us desire, til he leaves us empty so as to fill us with blessings … God’s immense blessings can only fit into a heart that is empty. They come in that kind of solitude. For this reason, the Lord would love to see you, since he loves you so well, well and truly alone, intent on being himself all your company. And your Reverence will have to take heart and be content only with his company, in order to find all contentment in that; for even if a person were in heaven, if she didn’t align her will to want it, she wouldn’t be content.”
“Once in the dark of night,
my longings caught and raging in love’s ray
(O windfall of delight!)
I slipped unseen away
as all my home in a deep slumber lay.
Secure, in more than night,
close hid and up the stair a secret way
(O windfall of delight!)
in the night, in feigned array
as all my home in a deep slumber lay.
There in the lucky dark,
stealing in secrecy, by none espied;
nothing for eyes to mark,
no other light, no guide
but in my heart: that fire would not subside.
That led me on—
that dazzle truer than high noon is true
to where there waited one
I knew—how well I knew!—
in a place where no one was in view.
O dark of night, my guide!
O sweeter than anything sunrise can discover!
O night, drawing side to side
the loved and lover,
the loved one wholly ensouling in the lover.
There in my festive breast
walled for his pleasure-garden, his alone,
the lover remained at rest
and I gave all I own,
gave all, in air from the cedars softly blown.
All, in wind from the wall
as my hand in his hair moved lovingly at play.
He let my soft fingers fall
and I swooned dead away
wounded: all senses in oblivion lay.
Quite out of self suspended—
my forehead on the lover’s own reclined.
And that way the world ended
with all my cares untwined
among the lilies falling and out of mind.”
—San Juan de la Cruz, La noche oscura del alma
Tr. John Frederick Nims
For this feast of St. Cecilia, virgin-martyr of the early Church and patroness of musicians, I wanted to share one of my favorite antiphons from the Divine Office. It is so simple, but the words and the music just seem to “rhyme” (as my man Gerard Manley Hopkins might say)—there is a harmony between the melody and the language which exemplifies the very best of chant, which speaks straight to the heart.
The Bridegroom is speaking here to the bride. “Come!” he cries from the heights, like a trumpet blast—then, tenderly: “my chosen one,” as the antiphon drops a third. The musical movement mirrors the Incarnation: the ultimate miracle! that God became man so that man might become God: “that I may dwell in your heart,” as he sings with “a lingering-out sweet skill” (to quote G.M.H. again)—and that you may dwell in Me. Notice how the notes descend on “dwell” and then rise on “in your heart!” Down and up: down to the heart of the bride, up to the hearth of the Bridegroom, forever and ever and unto the ages of ages, amen.
Music Credit: Midday Prayer, Common of Virgins, Mount Angel Abbey. All rights reserved. Contact: Choirmaster, 1 Abbey Drive, St. Benedict, Ore. 97373.