Tuesday 29 March: Lent 2011


You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,
The sign of Christ be on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit be in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

‘May the vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes.’

Psalm 8:1-5

1 LORD, our Lord, 
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!

   You have set your glory
   in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
   you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
   to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers, 
   the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?

Early believers learned to combat sins using a simple strategy. It was first brought to western Europe by the Bulgarian-born monk John Cassian. ‘Contraria, contrariis sanantur‘, he said in his learned Latin. ‘Opposites heal opposites.’

Falsehood is healed by the holy combination of silence and honest speech. Such a discipline strengthens trust and mutual knowledge. Likewise, covetousness could be healed by a life of chastity and frugality along with joyfully giving away everything that is surplus. Discord must be healed by devotion to each other and the humble habit of always being first to defer to the needs of the other. Injustice is combated by compassion for the poorest and solidarity with the weakest.

Our heavenly visions are thereby translated into practical ‘opposites’, which can put out the destructive fires of falsehood, covetousness, discord and injustice.

This is the way of life of Christian community; which in turn is a window onto heavenly society, an enclave for the Kingdom of God and a beacon of light for those living in darkness.

Our daily prayer for ‘the vision that the people of heaven have’, is not asking frivolously for spiritual excitation. Our goal is to find the best way to run the race, shaking off those sins which so easily ensnare, and helping others to do the same.  With that goal in mind I too can pray for:

‘the vision that the people of heaven have to be in these eyes’.

You can continue to read these daily Lent reflections by choosing one of the options on this page.