Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I was supposed to write on Sunday, but I didn't because I was tired and indolent and put out by my family after squabbles over a board game.
Sunday is the one day when I feel truly inspired to write here, because I have been to Mass. My second home, spiritual home, I call it, but it is really my first home; it is where I touch Christ and see less darkly, less muddily, through the glass of this existence.
I could go anywhere in the world, and Mass would be the same except for the language. And despite the language, I would understand clearly what is going on; the Liturgy does not change from parish to parish. No, it is always home.
In June I went with my oldest sister's family to their church. Such a beautiful church! With its sweeping verdant lawn, its bordering woods behind and up the hill, and its views of Virginia farm country, it was a place where one could definitely talk to God and hear Him call back in the symphony of insects, see Him in the prance of the deer and the hop of the curious rabbit.
I loved it. Yes, the Gloria and almost every other song in Mass was sung much slower than at our parish, and the church was much smaller than our own in Arizona, but home is home, and after all I was back in the South, the place where I grew up amid all that untethered green. And two things impressed me very much in that small parish. The first was the way in which the priest, Father Staples, repeated Christ's words at the last supper. Like the songs, the Eucharistic Prayer was recited much more slowly than I had ever heard it done before. I had heard my sister praise Fr. Staples' for his reverence in Mass, and my husband and I began to understand and appreciate just what she meant as we knelt before the Sacrament, meditating.
The second thing that impressed me had a great deal to do with my sister Vinca's family, I'm afraid. My sister is parish secretary and a cantor and sometime lector. My brother-in-law is an usher. My nephew is an altar server. All three of them serve nearly every single Sunday. The parish, as I said, is small. Line for communion is short. Each person in that church must do more to keep their community vibrant, and my sister's family exemplifies that commitment. My nephew shows up to each Sunday prepared to serve if need be, and usually he is needed. Amazingly, every Mass had three altar servers while we were there in that tiny parish. In our own huge-by-comparison church, we struggle to have one or two.
As for Vinca, the deacon recruited her for months to be the new secretary, and she resisted. But if you're sincere toward God, you're walking on that suspenseful road toward Him, trying your darndest to chart what might be coming around the next corner, but willing to say yes to the surprise. Vinca eventually said yes, and she works pretty much constantly. Still, she's good at it, just as God and her deacon knew she would be. And she was only confirmed a little over three years ago! Now, it seems to me, her little sister, that her family is the backbone of that church. But perhaps I'm biased.
More importantly, it makes me ask just what I am doing for the kingdom of God. I wonder if I am sometimes saying no to the One we cannot refuse simply by turning my face away at the hint of a question, fearful of what I may need to give up, frightened by the inconvenience. I recently read this great, thought-provoking article and this essay. The first one made me think that my sis and her husband Dave could cry with Jeremiah, "You duped me, O Lord..." Their lives are full and full of God's work. It can be stressful and exhausting, even discouraging....but it invariably brings light and life to us and to others when we accept our vocation. So, shouldn't we all wish to be duped by the Mastermind of salvation? God hears the faintest, shakiest whisper of, I think I'm ready. Lord, help me.
Pray the Lord of the harvest that He will send laborers into the harvest.
I find myself praying more and more here and there throughout my day, trusting God, my Father, to bring me along despite my weaknesses and inclinations toward self-preservation. I ask Him to make me less selfish, more humble, to guide me in using what talents I have in His work. I am learning to pray, without fear, about my vocation. I'd rather cry, "You duped me, O Lord!" then fail as the servant, seeking no profit, that Christ told us all to be.