Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Monday, December 2, 2013

What do we deserve?

As subjects of the King, all that we have is a free gift from Him and nothing that we have do we deserve. We do not deserve money, clothes, human affection, education or food except that God has given all this to us in creation. He has made us so that our nature calls out for these things which are His to give, but we do not deserve them, for our wills are not with His. We turn from him and so we do not even deserve the gifts he has already given us. One such gift is the Mass.

We don't deserve liturgy that appeases our aesthetic sensibility. We don't deserve liturgy that elevates our souls to the contemplation of the ineffable. To put it bluntly, we deserve hell, except for the sacrifice of Our Lord on the Cross, which is enacted in each Mass on the altar. So we shouldn't complain if what we get is felt banners and not silk vestments, liturgical dancing instead of the rubrics, Marty Haugen instead of Thomas Tallis. The Mass, after all, is a great gift to the people of God and we should not take it for granted.

But we should also not take it for granted.

Lest you think I am being confusing, let me explain. Our Lord established the Church in a human context which brought about the flourishing of beauty in expression of worship. In fact, humanity was made to imitate its creator in making things that are "very good." The gift of our humanity, and the gift of the Church are not to be taken lightly. No, we do not deserve existence or to be made in the image and likeness of God or the Incarnation, or the Church herself. But God has seen to it that we have been given these gifts, and to turn our backs on them is to deserve them even less. God does not need the commemoration of his Sacrifice to be in any context, for the commemoration of that Sacrifice and the worship of our God is not for Him. It is for us. He does not need our worship, but he deserves our worship, and for our sake he established a Church which leads us in that worship.

But let us not take it for granted, this great gift! Part of this gift, which makes it all the greater, is its appeal to our human nature and our desire for beauty. It draws us in so that our needs are better met. Should we, the poor in beauty, refuse the charity of Him who is Beauty Himself? If we do, we forget that it is we who need him and will instead depend on our own efforts in providing our needs.

Let us, then, lose ourselves in the charity of beauty, let us not refuse the gift of the Mass. Let us not strip it of its beauty because of agenda or pride. Let us instead allow the beauty to draw us closer to the Giver. We do not deserve it, but he has given it to us. Let us not throw it away.