Racine and Myrrh Dripping Icons

I was making some items for coffee hour tonight and asked the local NSA bug to play Tchaikovsky’s Cherubic Hymn. The NSA bug said she didn’t recognize that, so I asked for Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, and she started playing something Anglican. Eventually she got around to playing Faure’s wonderful Cantique de Jean Racine. The text is taken from Racine’s paraphrase of Consors paterni luminis, a hymn of the hours, generally sung at Matins, asking of Christ that he might dispel the darkness of the night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzUMfVpugq4

CONSORS paterni luminis,
lux ipse lucis et dies,
noctem canendo rumpimus:
assiste postulantibus.

Aufer tenebras mentium,
fuga catervas daemonum,
expelle somnolentiam
ne pigritantes obruat.

Sic, Christe, nobis omnibus
indulgeas credentibus,
ut prosit exorantibus
quod praecinentes psallimus.

Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

Racine was, to say the least, a brilliant and fascinating mind that accompanied, as he himself testifies, a variegated life. Educated in the classics, and attendant as well upon the nuns of the embattled convent of Port Royale (a center of the very rigorist Jansenists), Racine left behind a very sobering will, written but a few months before his death.

Au nom du Père, et du Fils et du Saint-Esprit

Je désire qu’après ma mort mon, mon corps soit porté à Port-Royal de Champs, et qu’il y soit inhumé dans cimetière, aux pieds de la fosse de M. Hamon. Je supplie très humblement la mère abbesse et les religieuses de vouloir bien m’accorder cet honneur, quoique je m’en reconnaisse très indigne, et par les scandales de ma vie passée, et par le peu d’usage que j’ai fait de l’excellente éducation que j’ai recue autrefois dans cette maison, et des grands exemples de piété et de pénitence que j’y ai vus, et dont je n’ai été qu’un stérile admirateur.

Mais plus j’ai offensé Dieu, plus j’ai besoin des prières d’une si sainte communauté pour attirer sa miséricorde sur moi. Je prie aussi la mère abbesse et les religieuses de vouloir bien accepter une somme de huit cents livres, que j’ai ordonné qu’on leur donne après ma mort. Fait à Paris, dans mon cabinet, le dixième d’octobre 1698. Racine.

Like Racine, I often feel myself only a sterile, fruitless admirer of the piety I have observed (je n’ai été qu’un stérile admirateur). A few weeks back I was in the presence of a weeping icon. In the midst of the service, the priest whose parish plays the happy host to this icon, picked it up and started walking around the nave of the Church (St. Philip’s in Souderton), and as each of the faithful held out their hands, a drop of oil, suffused with the fragrance of myrrh, would drip from the icon (the cloth and table where it had been sitting was saturated with the oil). There was nothing rhythmic about it, the drop came as our Lord or Lady willed (the icon was of the Blessed Virgin). Yet to each of the faithful there present the oil dripped. Some people had their hands in their faces. I was just dumbfounded and in wonderment.

Upon explaining this to someone, I was interrogated, “Well, what kind of wood was it?” “Are there woods that can do this?” We have miracles that occur right in front of us, but we don’t want to see them. I can hardly blame this person, as our whole life is beset by seeing-is-believingism. Yet this person makes a rather strong profession of faith. This was what was shocking.

As for me, let me be buried in a humble grave, like Racine, for even having seen this miracle, I still so often fail God in thought, word, and deed, having done those things I ought not to have done, and having left undone those things I ought do. May God expel the light of night, and set to flight the hosts of demons (fuga catervas daemonum) that wage war against us, and may God, as Tolkien wrote

. . . keep us all in hope and prayer
from evil rede and from despair,
by waters blest of Christendom
to dwell, until at last we come
to joy of Heaven where is queen
the maiden Mary pure and clean.

I pray you all have a good and prosperous end to the year, and may 2020 be one that draws you ever further into the light, and may we not be sterile, but fruitful in our piety. And my God and His saints protect us all as we face the future before us.

About Gary Cyril Jenkins

Professor of History
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2 Responses to Racine and Myrrh Dripping Icons

  1. Mark J. Kelly says:

    Christ is born!

    My wife and a Greek friend visited this Icon in it’s “home parish” 2+ hours away from our house. She was in the first row it began to “gush” in her presence. She took some in her hand and blessed herself. When she returned home later that night I was in bed. I awoke as my wife entered the room, she walked over to me and placed her hand on my head. Then, at that moment, and not before, the myrrh flowed and the room filled with that blessed fragrance. I sat up most of the night in awe.

    PS. I just returned from Matins and offer those Hours for all reading this blog.

  2. frenchc1955 says:

    Hello, my friend, and Happy New Year!

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