For more reflections on the Basilica Hymns of each season, purchase Perpetual Jubilee: Meditations on the Chaldean Liturgical Year on Amazon.com.
A Fitting Introduction
Because of the descending nature of humanity after the fall, that is, because of the fact that our mind is so easily distracted from that which is right to that which it desires, the first focus of Lent was the relationship between the Lord and his Church rather than in some particular detail of our activities during this season. In the midst of our works of mercy and penance, it can be all too tempting to forget that the Lord and our union with him is the point of all that we do.
This week also, we refuse to be turned from our focus on Christ onto anything that we ourselves are doing. Even more so, we counter perhaps our own complaints with the aches and pains of the season, the blood and dust of the spiritual battle, with a heartfelt thanksgiving to God:
Come, let us all give thanks and glorify our good God, as much as we are able, for his benefits to our race.
During this second week of Lent, then, instead of the ordinary whining and murmuring of the human race, we lift up, in the name of Christ, thanksgiving to the God who gave us every good thing.
The liturgical seasons are not isolated entities, but links in a chain that begins with the beginning of salvation history and ends with the Sanctification of the Crowned Church, with the work of Christ as the centerpiece and fulfillment of all grace. Therefore, when we recall, for example, the Ascension of the Lord to heaven, it is in a larger context: it comes after the season of the Resurrection and prepares the way for Pentecost and the season of the Apostles.
In the same way, the memorial of the fasting of the Lord in the desert is in a larger context. As in the Gospels, it is recalled directly after his baptism, that is, it comes after the season of Epiphany. But ultimately the suffering of the Lord during these forty days is seen to reflect the light of his final suffering, death and resurrection. Our hymn therefore begins in the context of the very creation of the human race, and ends with the glorification of the Lord and the whole human race with him, placing his fasting and ours in their proper context:
He honored us in our construction from the beginning, in the Name of his honorable Image, and, when the enemy envied our honor and cast us out of our glory, he was revealed to us and spoke to us in his Son, who is the Inheritance and Progenitor of the world to come. In his birth he gathered us from the error of ignorance to the knowledge of his Divinity. He was baptized and gave us a true adoption. He fasted and gave encouragement to our weariness that we might overcome Satan. In his death he conquered the tyrant, and he justified us, lifted us up and raised us with himself in glory.