Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui Domine

This verse of Psalm 4 – just sung by us at Compline – came powerfully to mind when Father proceeeded to give us Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament:

Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui, Domine: dedisti lætitiam in corde meo.

"The light of Thy countenance is signed upon us, Lord: Thou hast given joy to my heart."

Truly God has listened, has heeded the voice of my prayer, has not turned His face away from me, but blesses me by His priest, signing us with the Sacrament of His love, giving joy to my heart: "for God is potent in redonating a greater consolation", as the Imitatio Christi avers.

St Augustine comments upon this very verse in his Confessions, writing against the Manichees from following whose falsities he had been delivered, angry at them or rather pitying them for being madly hostile to the medicine of the sacraments (cf. IX, iv, 8):

'The light of your countenance, Lord, is signed upon us' (Ps 4:7).  For we are not 'the light that enlightens every man' (John 1:9).  We derive our light from you, so that we 'who were once darkness are light in you' (Eph 5:8).  If only they [the Manichees] could see the eternal to be inward!  I had tasted this...  
...there you began to be my delight, and 'you gave gladness in my heart' (Ps 4:7).  And I cried out loud when I acknowledged inwardly what I read in external words.
Confessions, IX, iv, 10

Our small schola, with Father and some parishioners, had gathered on a rainy night to sing God's praises in the immemorial Latin plainchant, and then gone on to worship Emmanuel, God present with us in His Sacrament.  We few, we happy few...

We had supper after, and a good long discussion touching on many of the ills and worries of contemporary society.  It is indeed sad, as it was for Augustine, to think of the wider world's peoples heedless of or even actively spurning the celestial remedies at hand to the fears and dangers of our transient life, the free offer of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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