A Child My Choice
The Church chose the Station at St Vitalis to read the Old Testament reading about Joseph being cast into the pit (Gen 37) and the Gospel about the wicked tenants (Mt 21:33-46) because this martyr suffered death in Rome by being thrown into a pit and crushed with stones. This titulus Vitalis, erected in the house of this martyr, became a parish church, and was dedicated in the 5th century by Pope Innocent I to another St Vitalis, the father of SS. Gervasius and Protasius, and martyred at Ravenna. His church in Ravenna (left) is one of the finest examples of Byzantine church art and architecture.
Following, as a reflection on the love of Christ and His passion, is a poem by another martyr and saint, Robert Southwell, SJ. As with so many of his poems, it is addressed to the Infant Jesus, a hymn of wonder at the Mystery of the Incarnation which always has the Cross in view. As we approach the Novena in anticipation of the feast of Our Lord's Annunciation perhaps it is well to consider that He became man, "for us men and for our salvation", redeeming us by His blood on the Cross, the ultimate Sign of God's Love for mankind.
As such, we are called to cling to Christ, to learn His way of Love and the Cross. Lent is that time for learning to Love more fully, in a more Christ-like manner, as Pope Benedict XVI said in his Wednesday General Audience this week.
A Child My Choice
"Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love is His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.
Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.
He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due;
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.
Though young, yet wise; though small, yet strong; though man, yet God He is:
As wise, He knows; as strong, He can; as God, He loves to bless.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a joyful spring.
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I die!"
May St Vitalis and his companion martyrs and St Robert Southwell pray for us and show us the Lenten path of suffering to glory.
Oh... and Happy St Patrick's day to all my Irish and/or Guinness-loving readers!