These following verses are from the hymn of I Vespers for the Feast of Christ the King. It has been raining quite violently in Rome the past week. Most of us would have experience of the force of a torrent of water, even stepping into a small river gives us a sense of the flowing power of a torrent. So easily we can be swept off our feet and be overcome.
In praying the hymn for Vespers, I was struck by this imagery and then thought on the Heart of Christ. We know that it is from the piercing of His side that the Church was brought forth, in that torrent of Water and Blood pouring from His Sacred Heart. But look at the following verses:
For this, hanging on cruel tree,
With arms outstretched, for all to see;
His heart is pierced by soldier’s spear,
Revealing burning love most dear.
From this the altar of the tree
Thy blood flows forth from Calvary;
As wine to us it doth appear,
To thine own heart it draws us near.
And so, contrary to how we would experience an overcoming torrent, we experience the burning love of Christ, and that burning love of a majestic king whom we have no right to approach except by His invitation in His grace. It is an overflowing flood of love which springs from the side of Christ. It isn’t violent. It isn’t destructive. It only sweeps us off our feet in the sense that it requires us to surrender to His love. It flows out of His side, in a way that it could overcome us, BUT instead this torrent of love draws us near to the Heart of Christ!
Sung First Vespers of the Feast of Christ the King, day 2 of Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage