SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING column for November 8, 2000
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
We all need to talk less, pray more, and begin to prod gently
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, some time ago I wrote to you about the graces received at Lourdes, during our pilgrimage there in May of this year. Nearly every article touched upon the infused knowledge given to me by Our Lord and Our Lady concerning the deeper meaning of The Mystical Body of Christ. I have spoken to you through the words of the Holy Spirit (though my poor efforts hardly compare to that which I was given to know), about allowing Our Lord to elevate us up and past our human, often superficial, instantaneous judgments regarding the congregation, some of the reforms of Vatican Council II, and other aspects such as the "Kiss of Peace", and in sharing we all benefited, I hope, in putting into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass much more than we had been giving.
Now, I have a question to ask you. Are you the type of person who habitually sits on the same side of the church, in the same row or pew, in the same certain seats Sunday after Sunday, even for those who are able to attend daily Mass? Do you get a bit miffed if someone else sits in "your" place? If you answered to either question, then I humbly offer a suggestion: Next Sunday, or weekday Mass, sit in another place. You'll be surprised how much it will change your perspective on why you are there, and why everyone else is there as well.
I say this because this past weekend, for the first time after Mike's major surgery for prostate cancer, he was Eucharistic Minister at the 5 pm Mass at our parish. As I remarked in an earlier article, Michael's recovery has truly been miraculous, and I confirm that yet again today. Still, his stamina isn't what it used to be, and thus to facilitate him the family sat on the choir side of the church, about as far away as one can get from the chapel in which the Tabernacle resides. We arrived early for confession, and then spent some quiet time with Our Lord. Then, all too soon, it was time to go back into the main body of the church (where the choir was still practicing) to take our seats, for this storefront parish fills up to standing room only, and chairs are placed outside for even more overflow.
Michael had business to attend to in the Parish Office, and my restless 15 year old opted to sit outside, as he is very claustrophobic. There I sat, trying to pray, trying to meditate, and I must confess that my mind was not only distracted, my soul was set on edge. Why?
Because I noticed, with full awareness, how many people there are in that church who gossip about any and everything except God during the minutes before Mass. Quite a few of them arrive early to get their "special" seat. On this particular occasion, a grandmother arrived, with her grown daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons, and she moved into the middle of the row I was sitting in, saving a spot for Mike on the very end.
Low and behold, the more I was called to meditate, the more the clamor of these gossiping voices interrupted. As if that was not enough, another woman entered, definitely one of our loving grandmother-types, and she entered the row where I was sitting in, and was actually affronted that her "special" seat was not available for this Mass, having been usurped by the aforementioned family.
Glaring darkly at this family, she briskly left the row and sought refuge in the two rows in front of me. Well, they were all but full too, and these women who had congregated in the first three rows all seem to know one another, and every small detail about their lives. One lady in front asked the elderly gentleman sitting next to her if he'd be so kind as to move, because her friend needed to sit there. Frail and yet smiling, the gentleman gave up his seat and found one along the side wall. At once, the displaced woman planted herself down and turned to "gossip" with all her lady friends in the first three rows. She had the unmitigated gall to say out loud (no subtle whispering here) that "that woman back there" (meaning the family in the third row) had taken "her" place, and what was the world coming to. There then followed a good fifteen minutes of animated whispers, giggles, jokes, finger pointing, etc.
Never did one of these women get up and go into the Chapel for a little quiet time with Our Lord, left all alone in the Tabernacle. Never once did any of the Congregation go before Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. No, quite the opposite takes place in our parish. The people come early, or late, it really doesn't matter, and they all seem to be there for a great "social" event that has no semblance whatsoever to Roman Catholics assembled to worship God, to witness the unbloody Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, and to prepare to receive Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament worthily.
I confess that I had to sit not only on my lips, but also on my hands, not to mention the mortifications I practiced to keep my mind from becoming bogged down in this travesty going on around me.
And this brings me once again to The Mystical Body of Christ. I have shared with you the vital importance and privilege of The Mystical Body of Christ, in which we share, and through which we are called to holiness, to unity with God. However, I want to make certain that you have understood what I have written, all of which the Holy Spirit gave to me, and all of which is the true meaning of Vatican Council II.
The episode I just mentioned above came to my attention because we, too, changed seats this past weekend. Had we sat on the other side, which we do because it is closer to the Tabernacle, I might not have noticed what goes on in the church prior to Mass, and even during it. I believe that God put Mike and I there, that God left me alone in the Church to witness this total lack of respect for God that seems to be the watchword of the Roman Catholic Church in a majority of dioceses today.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I want you to know that when we go to Mass, we go there to worship, adore, honor, glorify, petition, and thank God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), to listen intently to His Word, to ready ourselves to receive Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and to have quiet time to thank Him and reflect upon Him after Holy Communion.
If you have the Documents of Vatican Council II you will not find one word in there which remotely suggests that we have a three-ringed circus taking place before, during, or after the Mass.
What I saw this past weekend, awakened in me such a sorrow, such a dread, that I was speechless by the time Mass had ended and we were home. Never, never, my dear brothers and sisters are we to lie down and let the "phantom spirit" of Vatican II (the liberal "we'll do it whatever way we want") roll over us like a steamroller. In fact, my dear brothers and sisters, we are called to do just the opposite.
First, you must have the meditative, contemplative, along with the active. The two are entwined in the Mystical Body of Christ. Then, you must have within your heart and therefore exhibited in your outward demeanor, the reverence that is always due God. How rude we are to go to His House, to have been invited there, and then to totally ignore the Host of all Hosts by our endless chatter of the inane and mundane.
You must come to Mass prepared in mind, heart and soul, so that you may worthily participate in this most perfect prayer, and you are to lift up your mind, heart and soul, into the mystical realm where God's Word sinks deep into your heart, and then Our Lord comes and takes up His Abode in your Heart and Soul.
With such a Divine Houseguest residing within us, why do we distract ourselves from Him by trying to stumble along with the off-key choir to sing hymns that St. Thomas Aquinas must groan over?
True, to some extent, we have to let many of these things roll over us, to free our souls to fly to God, and finding Him, cling to Him not only at Mass, but always. Yet, never are we to simply follow along with the crowd where there are aberrations taking place. Such aberrations shatter the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ just as those who are flagrant in leaving the Church by either the right or left door. The norms of Vatican Council II are clear and set forth in such a manner that all men, religious or lay, can grasp them. Our own Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, says the Novus Ordo Mass, and you don't see that kind of three-ringed circus taking place when he says Mass, so why do we let it happen in our own parishes?
The answer is because we find it easier to go along with the crowd, rather than fight the good fight. Often these aberrations are perpetuated by the pastor's insistance on everyone acting as one. So therefore, rather than the pastors emphasizing Who we need to be one with - Jesus Christ, present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Tabernacle - they look to the norms that will make everyone comfortable. Rather than kneeling at the Consecration and Holy Communion, everyone is instructed that they must stand or be shamed by others for not being willing to act for unity. When I hear that it often makes my blood boil, especially when we see Christ in the Eucharist taken so lightly, ignored in His tabernacle. Has comfortability become the watchword of conforming to the norm? I don't think Christ was too comfortable on the Cross, yet it is He Who has told us more than once in His Gospels, "You cannot be My disciple unless you take up your cross and follow Me daily." Yes, it is a cross to kneel when your knees are arthritic, when your back is killing you. Yes it is a cross to have others sitting in judgment of you for daring to go against the norm. But it is not a cross when these glares face us as we exit the chapel before Mass for it is there, and only there until the Liturgy of the Eucharist, that we find comfort, that we find the strength to not judge the persons who are gossipping, only to recognize the sin of gossipping. It is wrong to gossip anywhere, but it is compounded even worse - like the money changers in the temple - when it is done in the shadow of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, so ignored in His Own House. No, my dear brothers and sisters, we are not one when this occurs. Talk about unity all you want, it simply cannot be bonded because it is all so surface. Depth is lacking. Using the analogy of the body, the bones are brittle, the muscles weak, the heart cold.
All of this I share with you, so that you, also, may come to a fuller, deeper understanding of The Mystical Body of Christ, to which you belong, and through which you are brought to your Eternal Home-Heaven.
There's a whole lot of aberrations going on in America, and elsewhere. The Holy Father's words and instructions remain ignored, even though reforms have been mandated, and accepted by the Conference of Catholic Bishops. Just because the majority has accepted to follow unacceptable norms, doesn't mean that we have to.
In fact, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, when we do stand up and let ourselves be counted when it comes to the Truth, they we are building up the Mystical Body of Christ. If, however, we just sit there, blissfully ignorant of what is going on around us, and doing nothing to correct error, we tear down the Mystical Body of Christ.
The manner in which these aberrations will be corrected are not ours to determine. God has already determined that. However, He does expect us, His Children, to do our part, and be that more prayer, or more fasting, or more time before the Blessed Sacrament, then let us do that as we near Advent, and begin the Liturgical Year again.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this next Sunday, or the next time you go to Mass, please have the courtesy to sit somewhere else in the church if you are able. You'll be surprised what you'll learn, not so much with your eyes, but with your ears, and with the eyes of your soul. I know I was awakened from meditation by the Holy Spirit, and I am sure you will be too. If you indeed do run into those who would rather gossip than prepare quietly for Holy Mass, invite them to come to the chapel with you and pray before Our Lord. Let Him touch them with His love. Your gentle prodding is the best way to soften hearts, to wake them from the stupor of stubbornness, ennui and pride. If more of us do this, if more gently prod in love for the person's soul, then, together, we can renew our efforts to do our very best to give to God all that is due Him … which is always our very, very best. Anything less, tears down the Mystical Body of Christ. Our Lady has imparted to me many times, as well as to others around the world, that we should talk less, pray more and love one another. Why don't we all take her advice to heart? Now is a good time to begin.
Joining you in heartfelt prayers I remain,
your very little sister in Christ,
November 8, 2000
volume 11, no. 225
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
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