It was a week best forgotten – missed spiritual opportunities, interpersonal quandaries, and gut-wrenching bad news.
I dragged myself to Mass as a first resort, and as a last. I was spent. I had nothing to give; I barely had the emotional energy to drive myself over there. The knowledge that God could have intervened to prevent so much of my sorrow lay heavily upon my heart, and so the Gloria was an act of faith in itself:
We praise You!
We bless You!
We adore You!
We glorify You!
We give You thanks for Your great glory, Lord God, Heavenly King!
O God, Almighty Father!
The homily said nothing to me, neither did the hymns. The psalm was “Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord.” The taste in my mouth was medicinal, bitter. What God had allowed to happen was not bad, at least, it did not have to be. Willingly embraced, it could be good, good – like medicine. And it tasted as such.
I sat through the offertory, mentally placing the events of the past week onto the paten and into the chalice. Along with the bread we have baked and the wine we have pressed, the work we did, the words we said, our attitudes and reactions are the “fruit of human hands,” my hands, your hands. All of the past week went in there, to be carried forward by my fellow parishioners and placed upon the altar. Those were not the gifts I wanted to bring to Him. Who wouldn’t rather place into God’s hands success rather than failure, joy rather than sorrow, progress rather than stagnation, hope rather than a loss of courage? But such was the desire of Cain, to worship God with what he thought were good gifts. I gave back to God what He had given me this past week, and thanked Him that I had anything to give at all, and I prayed with the priest as the Holy Spirit came upon the bread and wine that they might become, for me and for my brothers and sisters, the Body and Blood of Christ. I watched, believing and daring to hope, as the paten and chalice were raised high with the proclamation that “through Him, with Him, and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are Yours, Almighty Father.” There goes my week, I whispered to myself, to the glory of God the Father.
Going forward to receive Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, I prayed for a tiny miracle, a lifting of the sadness, a ray of joy piercing my leaden soul. The Body tasted like bread, and the Blood tasted like wine. This, I realized, is what faith tastes like.
One single act done with dryness of spirit is worth more than many done with sensible devotion – so wrote St. Francis de Sales. A “Glory be” recited in darkness unites us to the obedience of God’s Holy Son, in Whom the Father is eternally well pleased. I take that on faith as well. A week best forgotten can, by the grace of God, become a week worth remembering….
And in that spirit, I close my hymnal, take up my purse and head home, in the faith which pleases God.
On the memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga
Deo omnis gloria!
Photo credits: Raindrops falling on water by Juni of Kyoto, Japan