Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Holy Week Antiphons Immerse us in Christ

Last Wednesday, in the Office of Readings, we had a key teaching from St. Augustine's Commentary on the Psalms  which the Church applies particularly to liturgical prayer:

"[Jesus] prays for us as our priest, he prays in us as our head, he is the object of our prayers as our God.....We pray then to him, through him, in him, and we speak along with him and he along with us."

We have an immense privilege in praying the Liturgy of the Hours. In a way, it is akin to what the priest does at mass--he offers Christ's own sacrifice for the salvation of the world. We get to offer Christ's own praise, thanks,sorrows, and petition to the Father.  We get to be His  voice, or, He prays with our voices--whichever way you prefer to think of it.

This is made abundantly clear by the antiphons of Holy week. For example, on Monday morning we started out with "Jesus said, My heart is nearly broken with sorrow; stay here and keep watch with me", and from that we launch into Psalm 42 (Like the deer that yearns for running streams, etc.) with it's achingly beautiful expressions of overwhelming grief yet undying trust in God. Can you imagine a better meditation on what Jesus was thinking/feeling/praying during these last few days before His death?  I sure can't.

The same thing happened today with the morning antiphon I and Psalm 43. And it will happen Wednesday and Thursday too. And in Good Friday's Office of Readings and vespers, and a couple of other places in the other hours throughout the week.  So watch for these antiphons that quote the words of Jesus so that you can offer than psalm in complete union with His prayer as He confided His sorrow to His Father, begged for His help, and abandoned Himself to His Father's will.

I just wish I had the eloquence and theological know-how to express what an incredible experience the liturgical hours of Holy Week can be if we pay attention to what we're doing.