Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Don't Sell The Farm, Ray

I was with a buddy on the way to Mass, and he was telling me that he was strongly thinking of switching parishes. There wasn't anything wrong; it's just that, with the kids grown, he never makes it there terribly often. It was pretty random that I was there myself, actually. I was in a jam, and that's where we decided to go.

It was the sort of liturgy I hate. I could overlook contemporary music, if in fact we had not been explicitly instructed otherwise. In the grand scheme of liturgical abuse, though, it can be much, much, worse.

I was also annoyed, because the music guy and his "band" were loud and talkative the entire time prior to Mass. The Blessed Sacrament is right over there; shut up. If a long-missed friend wants to whisper "hello," fine. But this is not common space.

I didn't know what to think of the priest, either, because he was old. "Old," for the uninitiated into the Latin Rite of American Catholicism, means, "I was ordained in the '60s or early '70s," and that could get dicey, if you want to, you know, actually believe the gospel.

On we went, and I was wrong. He seemed alive with faith and love. If you want to fault him, you might because he didn't preach on the grave sin of contraception or something. He did, however, oblige us to look at the crucifix, saying, "Here at the cross was the greatest act of love ever seen on Earth." Yes, indeed. I'll take it.

We began to sing again, appropriately enough, "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever." If you've been some kind of evangelical at any point for at least 2 years, this song is literally in your DNA. Even if you want to forget the words, you can't. Thanks, Darlene. I'm being sarcastic and serious at the same time. But for the fact that it's about God's love in Christ, I hate this song. On the other hand, that's a big "But." It's as if God then said to me, "Remember this?" Yes, Lord, I remember. I forget sometimes, but I remember.

And I could hardly keep the tears from welling up. Later, my buddy asked if I was alright. Yeah, I'm better than alright. He loves me. We can't throw off the sin which so easily entangles unless we know this, not only in our heads, but in our hearts, in the place where we are most resolutely us.

I think--after I tried to tell him what happened, about half a degree short of outright sobbing--that he decided to stay. "To whom else shall we go?" Not that going elsewhere in town is leaving Christ, but let us not go anywhere to do anything without knowing God's love for us.

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