Friday, January 9, 2009

Pange Lingua Gloriosi

For Christmas, I compiled for Phil a CD of some of my favorite sacred music. One of those songs was Pange Lingua, a Benediction hymn. I had run out of time and paper and promised him a translation in the future. So here it is, along with Nick Zammis, a countertenor, singing a few verses of the original Gregorian melody. (Have you all figured out yet that I have a soft spot for countertenors?)

Of the glorious Body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
And the Blood, all price excelling,
Which the world's eternal King,
In a noble womb once dwelling
Shed for the world's ransoming.

Given for us, descending,
Of a Virgin to proceed,
Man with man in converse blending,
Scattered he the Gospel seed,
Till his sojourn drew to ending,
Which he closed in wondrous deed.

At the last great Supper lying
Circled by his brethren's band,
Meekly with the law complying,
First he finished its command
Then, immortal Food supplying,
Gave himself with his own hand.

Word made Flesh, by word he maketh
Very bread his Flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ's Blood partaketh:
And if senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.

Therefore we, before him bending,
This great Sacrament revere;
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
To the Father and the Son;
Honour, might, and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing,
Who, from both, with both is one.

R. Thou hast given them bread from heaven.
V. Having within it all sweetness.

Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Spreading the Word

Tonight, I got a stray instant message as I sometimes do from one of my first Christian brothers, a friend from high school. This comes on the tail of a phone call from another friend who is serving as a missionary in New Orleans. This week, my closest college friend is leaving for Costa Rica, where she'll work as a missionary for the next eighteen months.

Stiff competition, isn't it? That's what I used to think, in any case.

So many people around me are shamelessly spreading the Gospel, and that's amazing. I pray for that same courage all the time, yet, after three years, I've only taken baby steps. In some ways, I feel like I'm jeopardizing my salvation in this meekness--Jesus Himself said that "Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)

What can I make of that? Up until very recently, I've always read that verse and interpreted it as a call to evangelize or be damned myself. Not good for someone like myself who, while not ashamed, is timid about my faith. I am proud of it, and of my Church and all she stands for. I took vows to profess and proclaim those teachings, and I take them seriously.

The problem that I discovered after a lot of prayer and talking with my confessor/spiritual director is that I have always assumed that evangelism holds to one concrete definition--loud, assertive, bold witness. I met Christ in that environment, and the people I first had fellowship with operated solely in that way. It was for this reason that I thought that was what we, as good Christians, were supposed to do. In hindsight, I am quickly learning that I have been wrong about many things that good Christians are "supposed to do".

Let's face it--I'm proud, but I'm not aggressive. I'm joyful, but not shouting it from the mountaintops. It took me three years to accept that, yes, it's okay to be that way.

We can't all be Billy Graham, Saint Paul or Fr. Corapi. God gave us each gifts when He made us, all as unique and individual as we are. Those gifts are made manifest in Baptism, and sealed in Confirmation, but it's no guarantee that we're going to excel at all of them. Thankfully, we Christians stand in one another's gaps. Where I am lacking, people like my friends are succeeding.

My witness is a quiet one, but I think that's how I operate best. I'm less of a voice and more of a shoulder, guide, and listening ear. I don't preach, yet people come to me often for questions or advice, both spiritual and mundane. That is my gift. Every so often I can surprise people and quote Scripture if the situation calls for it. ;) I believe in speaking softly and carrying a big stick. It works well for me, and I can only pray that it pleases God.

"Preach the Gospel at all times," St. Francis said, "and use words if necessary."

I think I can handle that.