A Moment at the Mass
Even though I am recovering from surgery, I can celebrate the Mass. Currently, as I recover, I am in our ‘retired’ community, where the friars celebrate the Eucharist together daily. During, one of these Masses, as I uttered the first two words of the Our Father, my eyes filled with tears. As my eyes teared up, I had a strong feeling of compunction coupled with a sense of my heart rising within me. In that moment, I sensed these things were not from me, yet within with me and impacting me, helping me to see in a way I could not yet understand. The compunction in my heart, showed me that the Lord has called me to a deeper way, yet I regularly settle for the easier path. This easier path was making me blind, so I did not have to see the deeper path the Lord has offered me. In that moment of compunction, which stood out of time, my lips kept speaking the Our Father, but my heart simply whispered to God ‘Thank You.’ Since, that Mass the Lord has kept the eyes of my heart focused on those two words ‘Our’ and ‘Father.’
How often do I just sit with the word ‘our?’ A question that I asked myself the days following that experience at Mass. My mind just became amazed by that little word, which was flooding my heart with gratitude. The Lord has allowed us to say a word that permits us to ‘posses’ God. The God of all creation, who is infinitely beyond us, yet came to us, allows us to use this possessive word in relationship to Him. Yet, this gift of ‘our’ is not a term of isolation, but inclusion. How? We can only ‘have’ Our Father in community. Remember, Jesus did not teach us to say, ‘my father,’ but Our Father. This word ‘our,’ makes a community possible. Even when the prayer is uttered in private that word hints at the community we are a part of. The ‘our’ of the Our Father reveals to us not just the God, who is love, but the limitless family He creates through His presence. In a world, torn into many pieces, because people see differences, as either a means of power over others or an inequality that must be eradicated. We, as Christians, utter, in the air of the Spirit, the prayer Jesus used to form His Body. In speaking the ‘our,’ like Jesus, each heart can be directed towards the Father, just like His Sacred Heart.
‘Why Father,’ was the other question brought to my mind after that Mass. This word father, to me, seems like such a contentious word these days, particularly in the USA (my homeland). It seems to me that fathers have been pushed to the fringes of society. Why? Currently, masculinity is believed to be toxic for the culture. Subsequently, this movement of masculinity to the fringes has offered men a license to disengage and relinquish the gift and responsibility of fatherhood. Yes, earthly fathers, even before this culture shift, were not perfect, a surprise to no one, I hope, but they were at accepted by society. Now, whether a person had a kind, abuses, or absent father, one thing that this term always provokes, I believe, is a sense of intimacy. Fathers are a necessary part to the equation of life. They do not merely provide a substance for life, but they give it form through their presence, which is why fatherhood will always be a word of intimacy. As Isaiah teaches us “Yet, Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you our potter: we are all the work of your hands (Is. 64:7).” Unlike the hands of the potter, our earthly fathers us their hands to hold us and by their tender touch build that intimate bond of father and child. This gentle and intimate touch is not foreign to our Heavenly Father. His gentle and intimate touch is offer to us through His Son. As Jesus told us “[…] I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26b).” A father’s love is never meant to be withheld, weaponized, pushed, or hidden away.
“How blind do I make myself!” This is not so much a question I pose to myself, but a statement I speak to my heart regularly. I know in my self-inflicted blindness, I grant my soul permission to become lazy. I tell myself things like ‘I have done enough,’ ‘I am owed this, ‘God understands,’ and ‘God will have mercy.’ However, in my blindness, I cannot notice that His mercy that I invoke flippantly, comes as a purifying flame, casting the darkness from my eyes, like it did for St. Paul. The moment of compunction during that Mass, was that gentle fiery kiss my eyes needed to see what was being offered, that I so willing took for granted. The deep path of intimacy and community that the Father created for me and called me down is not a path that I (or anyone) can ever fully exhaust during this life or the hereafter. It is a gift. Gifts are meant to be opened, embraced, and celebrated. It was these gifts, present in my life, that that moment of compunction opened the eyes of my heart too. As a result, with that new-found sight my heart could respond with thanksgiving.
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1st Thessalonians 5: 18