Reflections for Septuagesima Friday|
Abbe Dom Prosper Gueranger
As taken from The Liturgical Year
Refuge from the Deluge: The Ark of Salvation
God chastises the world by the deluge; but He is faithful to the promise made to our first parents, that the head of the serpent should be crushed. The human race has to be preserved, therefore, until the time shall come for the fulfillment of this promise. The Ark gives shelter to the just Noah, and to his family. The angry waters reach even to the tops of the highest mountains; but the frail yet safe vessel rides peacefully on the waves. When the day fixed by God shall come, they that dwell in this Ark shall once more tread the earth, purified as it then will be; and God will say to the, as heretofore to our first parents: 'Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth.'(1)-(Gen. ix. 1)
Mankind, then, owes it safety to the Ark. O saving Ark, that wast planned by God Himself, and didst sail unhurt amidst the universal wreck! But it we can thus bless this contemptible wood,(2)-(Wisdom X 4.) how fervently should we love that other Ark, of which Noah's was but the figure, and which, for now, eighteen hundred years, has been saving and bringing men to their God! How fervently should we bless that Church, the bride of our Jesus, out of which there is no salvation, and in which we find that truth which delivers us from error and doubt,(3)-(St. John viii. 32) that grace which purifies the heart, and that food which nourishes the soul and fits her for immortality!
O sacred Ark! Thou art inhabited, not by one family alone, but by people of every nation under the sun. Ever since that glorious day, when our Lord launched thee in the sea of this world, thou hast been tossed by tempests, yet never wrecked. Thou wilt reach the eternal shore, witnessing, by thy unworn vigor and beauty, to the divine guidance of the Pilot, who loves thee, both for thine own sake, and for the work thou art doing for His glory. It is by thee that He peoples the world with His elect and it is for them that He created the world.(1)-(St. Matt. Xxiv. 22) When He is angry, He remembers mercy,(2)-(Hab. iii. 4) because of thee, for it is through thee that He has made His covenant with mankind.
O venerable Ark! Be thou our refuge in the deluge. When Rome's great empire, that was drunk with the blood of the martyrs,(3)-(Apoc. Xvii. 6) sank beneath the invasion of the barbarians, the Christians were safe, because sheltered by thee; the waters slowly subsided, and the race of men that had fled to thee for protection, though conquered according to the flesh, was victorious by the spirit. Kings, who till them had been haughty despots and barbarians, kissed reverently the hand of the slave, who was no their pastor and baptized them. New peoples sprang up, and, with the Gospel as their law, began their glorious career in those very countries which the Caesars had degraded and forfeited.
When the Saracen invasion came sweeping into ruin the eastern world, and menacing the whole of Europe, which would have been lost had not the energy of thy sons repelled the infidel horde, was it not within thee, O Ark of salvation! That the few Christians took refuge, who had resisted schism and heresy , and who, whilst the rest of their brethren apostatized from the faith, still kept alive the holy flame? Under thy protection they are even now perpetuating, in their unfortunate countries, the traditions of faith, until the divine mercy shall bring happier times, and they be permitted to multiply, as did of old the sons of Sem, in that land once so glorious and holy.
O! happy we, dear Church of God! That are sheltered within thee, and protected by thee against that wild sea of anarchy, which the sins of men have let loose on our earth! We beseech our Lord to check the tempest with that word of His omnipotence: 'Thus far shalt thou come, and no further, and here shalt thou break thy swelling waves.'(1)-(Job xxxviii. 11.) But if His divine justice has decreed that it prevail for a time, we know that it cannot reach such as dwell in thee. Of this happy number are we. In thy peaceful bosom, dear mother, we find those true riches of the soul, of which no violence can deprive us.(2)-(St. Matt. vi. 20) The life thou givest us is the only real life. Our true fatherland is the kingdom formed by thee. Keep us, O thou Ark of our God! Keep us, and all that are dear to us, and shelter us beneath thy roof, until the deluge of iniquity be passed away.(3)- (Ps. lvi. 2) When the earth, purified by its chastisements, shall once more receive the seed of the divine word which produces the children of God, those among us, whom thou shalt not have led to our eternal home, will then venture forth, and preach to the world the principles of authority and law, of family and social rights: those sacred principles, which came from heaven, and which thou O holy Church, art commissioned to maintain and teach, even to the end of time.
Reflections for Septuagesima Friday