Mind the Gap

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.

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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.

 

Fire

what makes a fire burn                                                                                          flame RoE

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

require attention

to the spaces in between,

as much as to the wood.

 

When we are able to build

open spaces

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.

A fire

grows

simply because the space it there,

with openings

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

 

Formed by Friendship

My friend in faith and spiritual sister is not well.

She first told us last Good Friday that the cancer had returned. We journeyed Passiontide in all it’s fullness last year. The Triduum was suddenly horribly real.

This week she called again.

She was worse.

For the past year we had refused to believe that she was not going to get better. We had besieged heaven with our prayers, our novenas, our Masses.

She Was Going To Be Well. It was going to be ok.

And we waited. We waited for the news that the chemo had worked.

While we waited we grabbed greedily at any opportunity to meet. We had afternoon tea in town, we went to the theatre, we had dinner, we phoned weekly. Then the news came, the chemo had worked, she was not out of the woods but things were on the up.

Over Christmas and in to the New year, things tailed off slightly and so did my conscious prayer for her because I began to forget. And I was justified in forgetting because when we spent time together, even last Saturday: She. Was. Well.

Really Well.

Three days later her reality shook me out of my comfort zone. I have to face up to the fact that my lovely, wonderful, talented, beautiful, faith-filled sister will not be alive for as long as I would like her to be. For as long as she would like to be.

And so this week I have been reflecting on the difference she has made to my life, the richness she has brought to it. 

There is no doubt she, through our friendship has formed me. I am not the person I was when we first met, all those years ago on holiday (www.catholicpeoplesweeks.org.uk).

Through our friendship she has constantly affirmed me,
as a mother,
as a friend,
as a liturgist
and as one who is beloved of God.
She loves me, in spite of my shortcomings.
She both prays with me and encourages me to spend time alone with God.
She enables me to see where to find God alive and at work in my life.
She laughs with me, oh how we laugh!
And this week, not for the first time, she cried with me.

Yes, she is still alive but I want to tell her how much she means to me before it is too late.

I want her to know how very blessed I am because of our friendship.
I want her to know that I love her, and that I will miss her.
I want her to know that if we never make another memory it doesn’t matter.
I can never forget her – I carry her with me in all that I am today.

May I ask for you to pray for her and her family…and those who also love her.

Fish messages for Jane

Perhaps this post should have been called the inadequacy of words, or maybe that’s for some other time.

Mothers and Sons

And Mary thanked Simeon for his lovely blessing.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that my eldest son has left home and returned more than once. The first time was to take up a position for one year as a Lay Clerk at Norwich Cathedral. He returned home for the following year to make an album. September he started his Music degree (finally). The house he was planning to move into fell through at the last minute and although he half moved out a couple of times he always came home.

Of all of my children, this DS is the one whom fills me with pride and irritation in equal measure. It would be true to say that the reverse is also (probably) true.

I am of the firm belief that to enjoy all that university has to offer, students should not live at home. I have supported all my children in their strive for independence. Or so I thought.

On the way to Mass on Sunday, he blithely informed me that they (the members of the band) had found a house and were all off to look at it this week. This should not have come as any great surprise. Over the last few months they had mentioned more than once that they had been looking at various houses in the hope that they could all move out of the parental home into their own. But it did come as a surprise and my heart stopped for just a moment. My son was moving out and I would miss him. All of him!

And when the Gospel was proclaimed an epiphany occurred, like Mary, my heart too was pierced, and will continue to be so. For that is the cost of being a parent. Not that I would want it any other way.

CPW 022

‘—and you yourself a sword will pierce—’ Luke 2:22-40

Picture is of a sculpture at Downside School, Bath.