Friday, January 10, 2014

With All Your Holy Martyrs

Another guest post from Owen Swain

"With all your holy martyrs,
-- we offer our bodies to you as consecrated victims."

Ever praying the Divine Office and wonder, What do I do with that? or, How can I pray that with any honesty? That happens to me, perhaps more often that I would like.

The line from the Intercessions of 'January 10 or Thursday after Epiphany Sunday' [as the "Kenyan" Breviary puts it] is definitely one of those lines.  I read that this morning [as I write this it is January 10] and thought, I cannot say that with any degree of integrity. I am not consciously offering my body up to death for the sake of Christ. I live in a country that, at present, does not suffer from physical violence against Christians. It is not likely that I would have to die for my faith here and there is no way of taking that absolutely physical word bodies I  to make some tidy philosophical/spirituality application. No, holy martyrs leaves little fudge room.

So, how to make this real?

I pause at that line and simply invite God to direct my heart. 

I realize that in many parts of the world today Christian souls are literally dying because they are Christian, cultural or 'faithful'. I pray for the repose of their souls and for the witness of their deaths. One only needs to review the past month to know, Christians are being martyred ; Nairobi, Syria, the sad list grows. I pray especially for the souls who will die this day because of their faith in Christ. 

Then words of sacred scripture come to mind

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. - Philippians 2.12,13 NRSV. Emphasis mine.

Well. I have often meditated on that verse but never in this context. I ask the Lord of hosts to grant me the desire to serve his will in death, as a martyr if that call is made of me.

I am grateful for the Liturgy of the Hours because it takes what might have been a mere vague sense of this matter somewhere in a closet down a long haul located in the very, very back of my mind and brings it to the fore and asks me to respond, to be real.

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Bonus Note 1 on the "Kenyan" Breviary.

The Kenyan Breviary does something very simple and helpful. It restores the V[erse] and R[esponse] notation marks, in bold and red ink, at the opening of each days "Office of Readings." How is this helpful? Aside from the aesthetic pleasure of seeing the little red V and R in public recitation so much clearer. Even when the public is just my wife and I but it would be especially welcomed in larger groups such as our Basilian Lay Associate as it would make very clear to all, who says what when. Nice.

Creators of the up and coming American version of the LOTH, ph-lease, take note {smile}. 

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Beloved: be loved! / artist