"Loose the bonds that hold us / Bound with sin's own blindness / That with eyes now open'd / God's own light may guide us." - the Ave maris stella is a favourite hymn of mine (as it was St Dominic's), and this verse is very appropriate for the feast of St Peter's Chains, especially as this year it falls on Saturday, my customary day for going to confession.
How blest the tribunal of penance, wherein the priest sits so patiently, waiting to wash clean all sinful souls! How kindly is Christ to errant sheep: Erravi sicut ovis, quæ perierat: quære servum tuum, quia mandata tua non sum oblitus - Ps 118:176, the very last verse of the longest psalm: "I was lost like a sheep that was perishing: seek Thy servant, for I have not forgotten Thy commands". Glory be...
I got a little mixed up this morning when telling the priest my misdeeds, but to avoid all scrupulosity I know it sufficient to earnestly state what one remembers, and not stupidly to worry afterward if one recalls something one had forgotten to say, since Christ is the Healer of sinners, not a stern schoolmaster smiting those who forget to say their piece word-perfect.
Very often, when bewailing my faults, I'll say the Miserere, then a Kyrie and Pater with versicles, before the hopeful penitential collect:
Deus, cui proprium est misereri semper et parcere, suscipe deprecationem nostram: ut nos, et omnes famulos tuos, quos delictorum catena constringit, miseratio tuæ pietatis clementer absolvat. Per...(God, Whose property it is ever to have mercy and to spare: receive our humble prayer, that we, and all Thy servants, who are bound with the chain of sins, the mercy of Thy piety may clemently absolve. Through...)
To-day is a good day to recall that it is God Who breaks the bonds that bind us, since Christ broke the bars and burst the gates of Hell, setting us free. Sin is so petty, banal, repetitive and slavish - whereas grace flowers in all manner of virtuous right conduct, ever new, ever varied, ever tending to excellence. There is far more choice of good than there is in doing ill, which is no liberty but captivity: this is the lesson to be learnt from the prisoner released from his chains.
Now, off to Hobart to stay with some dear friends, and with them to attend the Mass of the Ages...