Today, the 29th of March, is the Saturday of the Third Week of Lent, Station at St. Susanna's. Susanna was a Roman virgin who was martyred under the Emperor Diocletian. An account of the test of the chaste Susanna is the Epistle for today. As Father first read it through in Latin and I read along in my Missal, and then as I heard it again in English, so many different thoughts and actions stood out like bold print on a white page. Her husband Joakim, an honourable man from a town that was less than honourable, (Babylon), the vivid description of the evil elders who fell into lust as they perverted their own minds, one scene after another. The multitude believed them as being the elders and the judges of the people, and they condemned her to death. Susanna's cry out to God, her total faith in Him. And then God raises up Daniel, who silences the people as he speaks the truth, truth that cuts through the lies of the perverted elders. O thou seed of Chanaan and not of Juda, beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thy heart: thus did you do to the daughters of Israel, and they for fear conversed with you: but a daughter of Juda would not abide your wickedness. Young Daniel the Prophet, speaking of things that only he knew? The thread of forgiveness weaves its way through the narrative, until truth triumphs in the end and God's Justice is brought forth. This reading, coupled with the Gospel for today, John viii. 1-11, the woman pardoned by Jesus for her crime of adultery, shows us that God's mercy is beyond our understanding, as Jesus shows us. The scribes and pharisees thought they could finally pin him down once and for all by bringing to Him a, as they saw it, an open and closed case, a women caught in the act of adultery. First the words to the scribes and pharisees; He that is without sin, cast the first stone; then His words to her, Go, and now sin no more. To abstain from sin and cultivate virtue. How can I find the love that brings forth such charity, such forgiveness? I pray to God that I have not run up to that forgiveness wall, where my charitable acts are reserved for some and not all? thoughts for me to work on as I move through Lent.
One last thought.
After receiving I'm usually just quiet with my own prayers of thanksgiving, but today, for some reason (I was told, I know it!) I turned to the section of the St. Andrew Missal, Thanksgiving After Mass And Holy Communion. I opened to the Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas, which I don't recall ever reading, but thought I must share. This is an unbelievably moving and beautiful prayer.
I give Thee thanks, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal
God, who hast vouchsafed, not for any merits of mine, but
solely out of the condescension of Thy mercy, to satisfy me
a sinner, Thine unworthy servant, with the precious Body
and Blood of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that
this holy Communion be not to me a condemnation unto
punishment, but a saving plea unto forgiveness. May it be
unto me the armour of faith and the shield of good will.
May it be the emptying out of my vices, the extinction of all
concupiscence and lust, the increase of charity and patience,
of humility and obedience, and of all virtues; a strong defense
against the snares of all enemies, visible and invisible; the
perfect quieting of all my evil impulses, both fleshly and
ghostly; a firm cleaving unto Thee, the one true God; and
a pledge of a blessed destiny. And I beseech Thee, that
Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bring me, a sinner to that inef-
fable banquet, where Thou, with Thy Son and the Holy
Ghost, art to Thy saints true light, fullness of content, eternal
joy, gladness without alloy and perfect bliss. Through the
same Christ our Lord. Amen.