Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Into Your Hands Lord, I Commend My Spirit."

Every time Night Prayer is prayed we recite the Gospel Canticle Luke 2:29-32. It is always preceded with and followed by the antiphon:

“Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in His peace.”

Just prior to that I pray in Glory to the Trinity, “Into your hands Lord, I commend my spirit.” These were some of the final words of Christ as he died on the Cross. They come from Psalm 31. Christ prayed the Psalms even to the final moments of His death.

One of the greatest works of sacred art is Michelangelo’s Pieta. The well-known statue placed just to the right of the entrance of Saint Peter’s Basilica is absolutely amazing. It captures the sorrow and magnitude of Mary, the Mother of God, holding her broken and lifeless Son in her arms. When you look at it from afar you see the general shape of both figures. However, one thing perhaps most people do not see is a “view from above.” Thankfully, photography allows us to see that.

If you look at the photo of Christ’s face, you do not see an expression of agony or pain. He certainly endured the greatest experience of suffering ever known. Yet, Michelangelo sculpted an expression that is perfectly defined in one word—peaceful.

The final words of Christ before his last breathe include, “It is finished” or “It is accomplished.” I have seen translations for both. Frankly, I do not know which is accurate. Nevertheless, either serves my point. Perhaps Michelangelo wished to capture the meaning behind those final words dying on the Cross. Christ’s perfect act of love and friendship was necessary to reconcile God’s Creation to Himself. This is the most beautiful thing to be at peace about that there is. What makes his love for us so amazing is the physical, emotional, and psychological suffering he endured for that to be “finished or accomplished.” He was totally obedient to the Father, carrying out the plan the Father had for Him and for us.

So while Lent is a time of penance and prayerful preparation for the Passion, Death and Resurrection, try to focus on the image of the Pieta. In particular, recall God’s mercy and love for us in the peaceful expression of Christ’s lifeless body. His final words bring him to peace as He knows that His Father's watch and protection over everything is unshakable.

Sometimes I wake in the night turning over in my bed. I never imagined this would happen in seminary, but I find myself praying those words as I drift back to sleep. “Into your hands Lord, I commend my spirit.” “Protect us Lord as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.”

Prayer can even happen while we sleep.

Thanks for listening.

Jim Lannan


Bernie Lannan said...

Thanke for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

What a powerful set of statements - thank you for reminding me of them again. I hope everyone could see the Pieta in person - it is an awe inspiring sculpture in an awe inspiring place. When I first saw it a sense of peace seemed to surround me. I can't wait to go back and see it again.

Anonymous said...


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