Whenever I go to the chapel, I put myself in the presence of our good Lord, and I say to him, “Lord, I am here. Tell me what you would have me to do.”
If he gives me some task, I am content and I thank him.
If he gives me nothing, I still thank him since I do not deserve to receive anything more than that.
And then, I tell God everything that is in my heart. I tell him about my pains and my joys, and then I listen.
If you listen, God will also speak to you, for with the good Lord, you have to both speak and listen.
God always speaks to you when you approach him plainly and simply.
-St. Catherine Labouré-
I really like the new translation of the Mass.
Jesus is so tired as he walks along the road with the heavy cross on his shoulders. The cross keeps pushing into his shoulder, and the stones on the road hurt his feet. People yell and push him; the soldiers shout for him to move faster.
Then Jesus falls, and the soldiers yell at him more. How tired Jesus is! Jesus prays in his heart, “God, help me remember that you are here.”
After the homily at each of the Sunday Masses for the last few weeks, the priests at St. Anne’s have been giving short talks about the different parts of the new translation of the Mass to help the faithful not only understand some of the new wording, but also to help them grasp a deeper reverence for the Mass. This morning, Fr. Signalness talked not about the translation, but about the postures at Mass, and I was very glad that he did.
St. Anne’s is one of those parishes that has placed the tabernacle off to the side of the church rather than behind the altar. I assume that this is actually pretty common and may be the norm in the United States. In any event, is very obvious when parishioners arrive for Mass that they don’t understand what a genuflection really means because most do not genuflect towards the tabernacle where the Flesh and Blood and Bone and Muscle of our Lord and God are reserved. They almost always genuflect towards the altar or to the crucifix. It really bothers me because it generally is a symptom that people don’t understand what the Church teaches about the Holy Eucharist. So I was very very happy when Fr. Signalness talked about how to correctly genuflect as well as to what, or rather, to whom, we genuflect. He also spoke of the significance and meaning of kneeling, sitting, standing, and bowing in the different parts of the Mass. In addition he made a few comments about holding hands during the Our Father as well as who should assume the orans posture during the Mass (the priest) and who should not (the laypeople) as spelled out in the rubrics of the Mass.
The orans posture
One of the really important messages that I took away, though, was this: unlike our private devotions that we do at home and elsewhere, the Mass is the public worship of the Church where we come together as a unity of Persons in Christ and it is the Church who dictates the form of worship. We, as the faithful gathered in Mass must be obedient to how the Church tells us to worship in that setting. When she says to genuflect, we genuflect. When she says to stand, we stand. Worshiping together in body and spirit, we proclaim the unity of the Body of Christ, of the Holy Trinity. In whatever posture we pray in our private devotions is our choice, but in the public devotion of the Mass, we simply are not granted that freedom.
“We all have our routines, but they must have a purpose and provide an outcome that we can see and take some comfort from, or else they have no use at all. Without that, they are like the endless pacings of a caged animal. If they are not madness itself, then they are a prelude to it.”
The Woodsman, The Book of Lost Things
I take comfort from what the routine of the liturgy provides for us: mercy, love, forgiveness, communion, grace, Jesus. Without these things, the liturgy simply would be madness.
It seems that practically every night for the last month and a half I have dreamt about the St. John Bosco formation house. Its so weird. The house has been condemned and is now sitting vacant until the diocese tears it down. I keep dreaming that I am living there secretly and trying to avoid detection by the diocese and the police. I keep dreaming that there are important historical and valuable artifacts that I need to remove from the house into safekeeping. Sometimes I dream that the house is quite large and luxurious. Sometimes I dream that that it is a run down dump. Sometimes I dream that it is an old Catholic antique store with a nice elderly couple who live in the basement. No matter how it is incarnated in my dream though it is always the same house.
It is just strange to me that I keep dreaming about it pretty much every single night. I’ve done this before, but never to this extent. When I used to work at Boy Scout camp in high school, I would dream about it for about a week after I would get home. When I was an RA, I would dream about RA life for the first week or two of the summer. But this…this has been going on now for many many many weeks. It’s starting to freak me out a little. Why is the Bosco house ingrained so deeply in my subconscious that I can’t go without dreaming about it? This is weird, right? Tell me this is weird.
The procession left the fortress. It passed through the city gate towards the barren land to the west of the city. It was not easy. The road went downhill towards the Valley of the Tyropeon. Jesus’ feet were unsteady. The soldiers where pushing the condemned. They had to finish their job as soon as posible.
On the wayside the scene started to change. There were many others who had come outside the city gate to see this “procession”. They were mostly women. The men had other things to do. It was the Passover vigil and they had to get the lambs and by three in the afternoon take them to the Temple to be killed. The men of Israel where preparing the lambs to be killed!
The Roman soldiers where leading the “lamb of God” (Jn 1,29.36) to the slaughter: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Is 53,7).
Jesus was exhausted and his feet were trembling under the weight of the cross-beam. He could not take it any longer. With a bang Jesus fell under the cross-beam, face down in the muddy path. He is breathing heavily. His tunic opens again the wounded flesh.
The soldiers come running up to him and without delay pull him up from under the cross-beam.
The pain is unberable. It made him feel like his shoulders were being pulled apart. His arms stretched. There was no kindness in the soldiers’ behaviour. It was only a matter of seconds and Jesus was again brought to his feet.
They were but interminable moments and Jesus prayed aloud “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth” (Ps. 71,1-5)