A few years ago the new translation of the Mass was introduced to (some argue imposed upon) the English speaking Church. Apart from the obvious change in prayers and responses, there were also small almost indiscernible changes in the Rubrics, The Rubrics are the actions that accompany the words and are written in red in the Sacramentary. I am not an advocate of the new translation and there are still a few changes that jar but on the whole I have found that I can live with it. I was however all for a change that allowed the invitation to pray to be taken seriously, for there to be time where all can pray and the celebrant can ‘collect’ these prayers as he is meant to do.
Much of the time, the invitation ‘Let us pray’ is followed by a nano second of silence before the rest of the words are said which is hardly conducive to prayer.
During Mass the Holy Spirit does not only transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ but all those who, by their attendance, fully and actively participate in the Liturgy, (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 41). Although week after week, Mass after Mass we are transformed into the Body of Christ I must admit that I don’t always notice the change in myself. It is easy in the familiarity of the words and the structure to forget why we gather and on whom our focus needs to be.
The need for this space for silence became apparent one Sunday. After the Lamb of God as the priest held up the Body of Our Lord using the words prayed by priests all over the world…’Behold, this is the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb’.
How many times have I heard that prayer?
Yet this time the priest paused ever so slightly at the comma after ‘Behold,’. It was more like an explanation mark than a comma. And the difference it made was startling.
I did indeed Behold! I was attentive to the Presence held aloft for all to contemplate.
And that made all the difference to me that day. That day I noticed the change. I knew once more whose I was and whom I was receiving in the Eucharist. It took me back to another Mass many years ago, pre marriage and children when I was shuffling up to the Sanctuary along with everyone else to receive Communion. Out of no where came the realisation that this was no symbol, no mere remembrance, it really was Jesus Christ. That memory had stayed with me but occasionally needs to be dusted off and this ‘Behold’ was one such moment.
That gap was the space between the logs, a breath that enabled the Holy Spirit to fan the flames of my faith.
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build
in the same way
we have learned
to piles on logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and the absence of the fuel
together, that makes fire possible.
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
simply because the space it there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.
Judy Brown, on the Inward/Outward blog of Church
of the Savior, Washington DC