Tuesday of Holy Week
In the traditional Cistercian rite, the Gospel for Tuesday of Holy Week focuses on the Parable of the Ten Virgins. St. Seraphim of Sarov expounded this parable in the light of the gift of the Spirit. The goal of Christian existence, he would say, is to acquire the Holy Spirit. The relative quantity of oil in the Virgins’ lamps wasn’t a measure of accomplishment or moral virtue, but of their configuration to the Spirit.
We all received the Spirit at baptism — unknowingly if we were baptized as infants; then we said “yes” to the Spirit at Confirmation, resolving to be its vessels. And in each Mass, the Spirit is called down on the assembly with the prayer that they might become one spirit, one body.
On the threshold of Easter, it matters to ask: Do I fully live as a member of Christ’s Body? If I’ve separated myself from it by my decisions or actions, it’s a good time to make reparation, to seek forgiveness. A hymn for Great Week in the Byzantine rite sums it all up:
“Behold the Bridegroom drawing nigh!” O hear the oft-repeated cry!
Go forth into the midnight dim; For blessed they whom he shall find With ready heart and watchful mind;
Go forth, my soul, to him.
“Behold the Bridegroom coming by!” The call is echoed from the sky:
Go forth, you servants, watch and wait: The slothful cannot join his train:
No careless one may entrance gain: Awake, my soul, it’s late!
“Behold, the Bridegroom drawing near!” The warning falls on every ear:
That awesome night shall come to all: Behold, my soul, your lamp so dim, Rise, rise the smoking flax to trim:
Soon shall you hear his call.