Friday, January 8, 2016

But... it's in Latin...

A funny thing has happened over the last few years. My heart is slowly being converted. I say it's funny, because in a single instant my life changed. But the process of becoming holy. Well... that's a road that winds onward, with the destination visible but the path twisting and winding through unseen bends.

It's also somewhat strange for me this year, because I have had a really hard time pinpointing any spiritual growth, persay. As if I've settled into a comfortable routine of prayer and Mass... and reading and writing. And I grow frustrated at my lack of progress. And complacent in my journey. And I teeter back and forth between those two thoughts, both full of pride and not faith. And then... well.. I see it. Small. Tiny baby steps. Tiny little steps where I'm teetering and falling and teetering and falling again. But somehow, I keep being pulled back up on my feet.

I'm learning to ask for help. To ask for mercy. To ask for forgiveness. I'm starting to see just how deep the sin runs into my heart. And, in turn, to see just how merciful and loving God is.

I've been hearing a lot, recently, about pondering things in our heart. About discerning God's purpose for us, with the gifts He's given us, and the crosses we carry.

And in the middle of this pondering through Advent, and then Christmas, I went to the "Old Mass" (as I once heard a kind and wonderful priest refer to the Extraordinary Form) ... again. I've been a few times, maybe twenty or so over since the first I attended in January 2013. And I've always found it beautiful, full of reverence. But I struggled to see where the love was in it. I struggled to enter into the beauty I saw. 

It was carefully and reverently done, with great love of God. The music was nice. The vestments had so much care taken with them. The ceremony was beautiful, but it seemed just that... foreign to the way I was used to worshipping.

Intellectually, I knew better. I studied the words of the Mass. I read the rubrics. I sought Scripture and found it there, present in front of me. Yet, still, I was confused.

I kept going, each time the opportunity presented itself, convinced in my head that this was right and true, and a gift. Yet still, I never left with the same sense of quiet peace I experienced after a usual daily Mass.

And then I went again. And each of my objections... the ones I hadn't been able to quiet in my head despite studying and reading and finding answers, they each feel away. 

I couldn't determine why. I couldn't figure out what had changed. The very parts I had found confusing, that I was discomforted by were now the ones I missed at the next Novus Ordo Mass I went to. The chanting of the Word. The inaudible whispers of the priest. The facing of priest and people towards God, together in prayer and worship.

A week before I would have said that it was strange to proclaim the Word twice. That the Mass would make more sense if we could hear the words of the priest, clearly. That the purpose of the Mass being in Latin was for it to be in a universal language.

Yet, at this Mass, I heard God's love proclaimed in the inaudible words of the priest. Not trying to entertain a congregation, he was allowed to focus on God, to speak quietly. To speak God's presence into mere bread. The priest was allowed to be in awe. And in so doing, he allowed us the same grace.

For what is the natural response to Love, to Beauty? What is the response to beholding our Lord?

If for moments where we glimpse mere mortal greatness our response is to draw quiet, how much more should we quiet ourselves before our Lord? If when we behold mortal love our response is to quiet ourselves and look in awe, how much more in the presence of Love itself?

The silence is shocking, deafening. And it's meant to be that way. The shock of quiet doesn't mean we need to be louder to try to drown out the awe. Perhaps instead it's the opportunity to draw close, to look, to ponder in our hearts something greater than what words can tell.

And yes, that quiet is reverential. It prevents us from getting too "comfortable" in the presence of our Lord and God. It prevents us from drawing into such a routine that we forget the awe. That we forget the mystery. That we forget to ponder as Mary did. That we forget the Mass isn't about us and what we get from it.

So... that's what I'm hoping to do more of this year. That's my one New Year's resolution for 2016. To make time for the quiet, and the pondering. To put my books, and reflections and rote prayers to the side and sit in the uncomfortable and comforting, disquieting silence of God. To humbly offer God my praise... with empty hands and no words to offer Him, no thing to offer Him but myself. To strive to say my yes to Him each day, to voice a fiat from my heart.


  1. I read your comment on another blog and want you to know I did pray a Hail Mary for you on your upcoming marriage, and for a long, happy and faithful marriage as well. I'll keep you on my beads (married myself for 42 years). Blessings to you and your fiance from Calgary, Alberta.

    1. Thank you :) We very much appreciate your prayers!