instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sometimes "I" means "I"

What I wanted to say about parrhesia wasn't that it's essential to the Christian mission and to the Christian's prayer life. Those posts were just the introductory paragraph of this post getting away from me.

I recently noticed one particularly gracious aspect of our gift of parrhesia, the freedom to speak freely to God: We are free to pray the words of Scripture, in particular the Psalms and especially the Canticles of Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon.

Yes, I know, not exactly a news flash. But take a look at this:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior,
For He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
When we pray these words of the Magnificat, as the Church invites us to do every day as part of Evening Prayer, we aren't just praying the same words Mary happened to pray once. We are praying along with Mary, in the sense that we are joining in her proclamation of the greatness of the Lord and recollecting His look of favor upon her. We are also, so to speak, praying in Mary's footsteps. I am not only saying, "God looked with favor on Mary," I am saying, "As He did with Mary, God my Savior has looked with favor on me."

Even more: "As Mary said about herself, so I can say about myself: all generations will call me blessed."

Now that is some bold talk.

But it's true, isn't it? At least, it can be and is meant to be true; I personally, am supposed to be among the blessed in heaven. If (God forbid) it turns out I'm not, it won't be for want of God looking with favor on me, but because I didn't live up to my lowly servant (or friend, or child) side of the covenant.

All of the first person pronouns that we pray from the Scriptures can bind us to the original "I" who prayed it, as well as the Christ Who fulfills it. It's not just Zechariah's son who shall be called a prophet of the Most High; it's our own children -- and our parents' children, too -- as long as they go before the Lord to prepare His way. If the Lord lets me go now, then I ought to go in peace, because my own eyes have seen the salvation He has prepared in the sight of every people; I see it on the altar at every Mass. I do cry out of the depths, my sin is always before me, I do hear it said all the day long, "Where is your God?"

Our freedom to join in the prayers of David, Zechariah, Simeon, and especially our Mother Mary manifests our freedom to join in the hymn of glory they offer the Father, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit for all eternity. We aren't duplicates or copies; there is, after all, only one Mother of God. But then, there is only one of you, too. Freely claim your inheritance alongside your Mother, and the others who have spoken the revealed word of God.