Vigils Reading

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Vigils Reading

March 11, 2023

The Mass7
From “The Meaning of the Monastic Life” by Louis Bouyer

The whole of religion and at the same time the whole history of humanity is summed up in the Parable of the prodigal son… who becomes aware that he has gone astray and is brough to ruin by his own fault… The more this awareness deepens, the more the desire of returning to the Father wells up in it… Ayearning and a painful desire: with what obstacles will not the return journey be strewn! And at the end, what sort of a welcome awaits the prodigal?…

We see him then heavy-hearted and yet trembling with hope, trudging once more along the steep and rocky path, which had seemed so easy to him as he descended it… But he has hardly taken more than a few steps when he finds the Father running along the road, his arms flung wide open, having set out to meet him… And the son can scarcely lisp the first words of the expression of sorrow… before…the Father had given his orders… Let him be clad in costly apparel, let a ring be placed on his finger, let the fat cattle be killed for him, and let the house be filled with lights and music…

The reconciliation is thus effected. But it is the one who has been sinned against who bears all the cost of it. It is the Father who surmounts the accumulated obstacles of which the son was afraid. It is the Father who will pay the ineluctable reparation which, to the son, appeared as impossible as he knew it to be essential. He despaired of ever finding the place he had abandoned of his own initiative, again. But the Father’s limitless generosity was reserving an even better place for him.

…The Mass is the return to the Father in Christ, who has come to us on behalf of the Father – who has come to us and returns to him, this time bearing us in himself through the death of obedience…

The monk is the one who lives only for this return to the Father. That is why the monk’s life is a crucifixion; for, between God and sinful man, there is no other way than the one God himself has opened: the way of the Cross. But this crucifixion of the monk would be vain, would be merely sterile suicide, if it were not accomplished through a participation in Christ’s own Cross. Such a participation can be accomplished through the Mass, and that is why the monk’s Suscipe will only receive its significance when it is so to speak enfolded in the offertory of the Mass, as his charter of profession is in the altar cloth.

Thus the Mass must daily bring before us primarily the mystery of the divine Word who is seeking and calling us… the mystery of the same divine Word who elicits from us the only response truly effective… who crushes us to create us anew: therein lies the whole meaning of the eucharistic immolation at the centre of the Mass of the faithful. And both are there given to us in Christ: the appeal which touches us, the response which moves us and carries us over all obstacles to the very heart of the Father. For the Mass, finally, under all its aspects, is only the perpetual fulfillment of the apostle’s words: ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’

7 Bouyer, Louis. The Meaning of the Monastic Life. Trans. Kathleen Pond. New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1950. 190-192.




March 11, 2023
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