The other night, it was time to pray the Office of the Dead. I do this once a month, following my spiritual director’s lead.
Since I pray this Office once a month, the readings and responsories are of course not unfamiliar to me. Still sometimes, the words of the psalms etc. just seem to leap out at one and take on a new significance one hadn’t noticed before. That’s how it was the other night when I prayed Vigils.
It was the responsories that really “spoke” to me – these in particular:
R. Lord, when You come to judge the earth, where shall I hide from Your wrathful countenance? *For I have sinned exceedingly in my life.
V. I am appalled at the sins I have committed, and I blush before You. Do not condemn me when You come to judge.
Yes, sometimes I feel very acutely that sense of being "appalled at the sins I have committed”. I led a very sinful life in the days of my youth, and there are times when memories of past deeds come to mind, unbidden, and they make me shudder. “I blush before You” – indeed, I do! However, I know it is Satan who evokes the memories, because he wants me to despair. I’ve confessed those sins, though, and have received absolution for them.
R. Alas for me, Lord! I have sinned exceedingly in my life. Wretch that I am, what shall I do? Where shall I fly but to You, my God? * Have mercy on me when You come on the last day.
V. My soul is greatly troubled; come to its aid, O Lord.
Again, yes, I have sinned exceedingly in my life! And when those memories rise to the surface and I find myself painfully aware of my wretchedness, I know there is nothing else to do but to call upon His mercy. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Other times, even without remembering past sins, “my soul is greatly troubled”. I have learned that if I call out to the Lord and truly ask for His help, He will not disappoint me! The trouble lies in actually calling out to Him and honestly asking for help! Sometimes I want to wallow in my self-pity for a while; that’s always a mistake, but it’s one I still make. Sooner or later, though, I remember that He will help me if I will ask for and accept that help.
R. The fear of death troubles me, as I sin daily and do not repent. *Since in hell there is no redemption, have mercy on me, O God, and save me.
V. O God, by Your name save me, and by Your might deliver me.
Oh, yes, sometimes I am troubled by the fact that I “sin daily” – the same sins, repeated often. My weaknesses are ever before me that way! I do repent, though…most of the time. O God, deliver me from my unrepentance!
R. O Lord, judge me not according to my deeds, for I have done nothing worthy in Your sight; therefore I beseech You Majesty *That you, O God, may wipe out my offense.
V. Thoroughly wash me, O Lord, from my injustice, and of my sin cleanse me.
I can do nothing good outside of Him, and the best that I do is only the least of what He deserves from me!
R. Deliver me, Lord, from the paths of hell. You have shattered the bronze doors, and visited hell, and given them light, that they might see You, *For they were suffering in darkness.
V. “You have come, our Redeemer,” they cried out.
Yes, thanks be to God! He has come – our Redeemer!