Friday, October 29, 2010

The privilege to stand in the person of all men and chant the praises of God

"From the very beginning we were made aware of the grave and serious obligation that would always be ours to recite this Office. But we were made no less aware of the privilege that was ours to stand in the person of all men and chant the praises of God for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls. We received the right to harmonize with angels at the feet of the Lord. We were blessed to sing the chants of the suffering Christ; to raise our voices in joy at His victory.

Of all the men on the face of the earth, we were the relative few who had been chosen to pray for those who would not or could not pray. We had been given the right to use the official prayers of the Church which in the matter of sheer beauty and expressiveness stand unsurpassed. We lived every mood of the prayers we sang. Felt every pain. Experienced every joy. We wept with those lamentations of the Old Law which foretold the immolation of the Lamb. We rejoiced in the relentless poundings of the glorious Alleluias.

All this was, and is today, our privilege and our heritage as men of God. So we make our voices rise and fall in the unique cadences of the chant. We might be expected to kneel down and kiss the floor when we have made an obviously incorrect addition or omission. We might wish at times that the long chanting of prayers would come to an end, and all the constant movement cease. We might feel acutely our unworthiness to intercede with God for those which might have been, if given the opportunity, far better than we ourselves are. Still, we are the ones to do this. It is our life, our love, our sacrifice.

But easy or hard, it is always a consolation to know that in days when men have plotted to upset the throne of God on earth, when they have stood defiantly before their Creator with jutting jaws and hard, glowering eyes, it is a consolation for us to be able to stand in choir with our breviaries in our hands and make reparation for the sins of the world, to pray in its behalf.

And for each blasphemy that is spewed recklessly toward heaven, the friars in their brown and white can turn their eyes to the tabernacle, and with their many voices praying as one, keep the pages turning and the plea ever resounding: 'Spare us, O Lord, spare thy people. And be not angry with us forever.'"

-- Men in Sandals by Fr Richard of the Immaculate Conception (Madden), ocd

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