Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence is among my favorite liturgical songs. The text of this Eucharistic song is derived from the "Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn" from the Litany of St. James written in the 4th Century. It was translated from Greek to English by Gerard Moultrie, 1864.
This hymn rightly challenges the attentive and devout listener to realize the immensity of what is happening upon the altar at each and every Mass and Divine Liturgy for two millennia now. The tremendous mystery and overwhelming miracle of Jesus Christ come Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity in the Eucharist to be present with us. Oh, how we should respond!
Looking anew at the lyrics in this season of Advent, I was struck by how they likewise speak to Jesus’ first coming in the Flesh at Christmas – the very event we are preparing to celebrate here in this holy season. The first verse calls us to ponder with fear and trembling the presence of Christ (in the Eucharist), but how too did Mary and Joseph ponder Christ there around the manger. What fear and trembling stirred the shepherds keeping their night watch and then moved them to find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes in the arms of Mary. What fear and trembling motivated the homage of the Magi from the east. Jesus Christ – fully God – descends fully man. Are we moved to fear and trembling of awe and reverence? Do we make haste to see and worship? Will we show due homage?
Verse two challenges us with the title of the Christ child born in a manger and yet ‘King of kings’, ‘Prince of Peace’, and ‘Lord of lords.’ He who was born of the lowly virgin Mother. Truly flesh of our human flesh and blood of our human blood. Body and Blood that He will lay down upon the Cross in perfect, fitting, and redeeming sacrifice to the Father for our salvation, and yet Body and Blood that will be true food and true drink unto everlasting life for you and I (John 6).
The ranks of angels sang “Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to People of Good Will” when first the Christ Child was born – moving the shepherds to stunned silence and awe. He who is the Light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (Jn 1:5). These same ranks of angels – although unseen by human eyes – gather and sing around every altar when Christ is once again present. All so that we may walk in the Light, that we may be filled with Light… and live in endless Day with the Lord. Let us join in adoration, in praise, in ceaseless angelic cry “Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia, Lord most High!”
Why does Christ come to us in the Eucharist? Oh the books that could and have been written. Christ first came at Christmas then. Christ comes in the Eucharist now. Christ will come again. With each reception of the Eucharist, may our mortal flesh keep silent. And may our mortal flesh be ever more prepared for Jesus Christ at our His Second Coming!
+ Nothing Less than saints for the Holy Family of God. +
Holy Family, Protective Father, Expectant Mother, Divine Son, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries