19 February 2009

Saint Ambrose: "Audi quomodo te Christus, excitet"

In today’s Officium Lectiones from Liturgia Horarum, Saint Ambrose instructs us on speaking only of the things of God. He says: “Lingua tua loquatur iudicium, lex Dei tui in corde sit tuo” – “Let your tongue speak justice, and let God’s law be in your heart.”

Each new day of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours begins with the words: “Domine, labia mea aperies. Et os meum annutiabit laudem tuam” – “Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will proclaim Your praise.” Scripture says: “Aperi os tuum, et comede quæcumque ego do tibi” – “Open your mouth and eat what I give you” (Ezekiel 2:8). Prophetically this would be the Eucharist; but interiorly it means surrendering to God and allowing Him to fill us with the words that we are to speak. This is what we pray for at the beginning of the Divine Office at the Invitatory.

But Saint Ambrose takes it a step beyond that – beyond when we drag ourselves out of bed to begin praying the Church’s daily prayer or some other form of prayer: The great saint says, “Audi quomodo te Christus, excitet” -- “Hear how Christ awakens you.” Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who has never missed even the most seemingly insignificant and boring occurrences in our life, because if He averts His holy stare from us for even a millisecond, we would cease to exist, is responsible for each new day’s awakening. This is God reaching out to us. This requires a response from us, even before entering a chapel or living room (depending on one’s state in life) to pray the Divine Office or Rosary or another form of prayer.

Many of us likely begin our first thoughts of the new day with the burdensome schedule that lies ahead at the workplace; or perhaps students are feeling a little uneasy about the exam that awaits them at school; and of course, those who lay their life on the line for our safety: soldiers, police officers, employees of the fire department, etc. -- surely they have the occasional worry when they get out of bed, if they will return to that bed at day’s end. Life can be a heavy load but He Who awakens us will be with us for every moment of it. Saint Ambrose says, “Hear.” This suggests an interior moment at our awakening, a time, however long or brief, to not only accept and acknowledge God’s Presence, but desire God’s Presence in our new day. This surely would be evidence of God’s law being in one’s heart.

Venerable Andrea Beltrami wrote: “Wherever I may be I will often think of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I will fill my thoughts with the holy tabernacle even when I happen to wake up at night adoring Him from where I am, calling to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament…” Waking up and adoring Jesus – what a beautiful way to begin efforts to keep God always at the Center of our life.