Monday, 3 January 2011

Longing for the Name of Jesus

This is the title of the "Meditation of the Day" in Magnificat for today, which can be celebrated as an optional memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus. The author is given as Fr Hilton (died 1396), a canon of the Augustinian Priory of Thurgarton, England. In the index at the back, the source is given as "From The Scale of Perfection, Dom Gerard Sitwell OSB Tr. Published by The Newman Press, 1953, Westminster, MD."  In looking up the reference to the Song of Songs 1:2 I found the quoted text given in Sg 1:3 instead.
Do not be surprised that the awareness of grace is sometimes withdrawn from the lover of God, for Holy Scripture says of the spouse: I sought him and did not find him; I called him and he did not answer (Sg 3:1). That is, when I sink back into my natural weakness, grace is withdrawn; and if it is withdrawn, my failure is the cause, and not because he has departed from me.....

But at last, in his own good time, he returns, full of grace and truth, and visits the soul which is languishing with desire and sighing lovingly after his presence. He touches it and anoints it with the oil of gladness and takes away all its suffering. And then the soul cries out joyously wiht the voice of the spirit: Your name, O God, is oil poured out (Sg 1:2). Your name is Jesus, that is Saviour. As long as my soul is sick through sin, oppressed with the heavy burden of the body, anxious and disturbed by the dangers and miseries of this life, so long, O Lord, your name is for me oil, not poured out, but witheld. But when my soul is suddenly illumined with the light of grace, cleansed from all the defilement of sin, and feels itself filled with consolation, with spiritual strength and unspeakable joy, then I can say to you with delighted praise and in joy of spirit, "Your name, O Lord, is for me oil poured out. For the grace of your visitation makes me fully understand the true meaning of your name, which is Jesus, Saviour. For it is your gracious presence that saves me from sorrow and from sin".
There is a resonance between this meditation and the Opening Prayer of the votive Mass of the Holy Name, from which the texts are taken for today's optional memorial ("old" ICEL translation, sorry):
may we who honour the holy name of Jesus
enjoy his friendship in this life
and be filled with eternal joy in his kingdom
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.

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