Friday, April 14, 2006

Mass of the Lord's Supper

Mass last night was absolutely amazing. It was beautifully rich with Catholic tradition and alive with Catholic faith. My family and I sat in our usual spot, this year with a visitor. My mom's best friend, Madeleine, joined us and it proved quite a treat. We ended up crammed in the pew with another family but it was hardly noticeable once Mass began (except for maybe during the homily when we had to cram more to make room for our priest).

I was moved from the beginning with the great selection of music for the evening. The song was made even more beautiful at the sight of the procession down the aisle to the altar where we were to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and end this Lenten season. They made their way up the steps, bowed, circled around and bent in unison to kiss the altar. My heart melts every time. Tradition tugs at my heart in a way few things do. So beautiful...

Sitting in the front pew on the right side of the church, you see EVERYTHING. The sights were overwhelming and I was so thankful to receive even more feeling in not seeing. I closed my eyes during the Our Father and listened as I prayed. I heard so many faithful from all parts of the church. I heard myself: my heart thumping steadily in my chest and my voice as it uttered the words which our Savior gave us. I saw more and felt more in that moment than I would for most of the night. It was reassuring to me in that moment that even though I may not see His coming, or His touch in my struggles, that He is there.

Later, after reading about (and hearing about) the humiliating act which Jesus did with love for His apostles, I watched as our priest washed the feet of twelve people: six women, and six men. I watched as he humbled himself as Christ did and washed their feet gently and with love. Never once did he appear humiliated. Perhaps he was humbled and still joyful at knowing he was imitating Christ in this act. As he dried the second foot of each person, just moments before they were to stand and take their place around the altar, he looked up into their eyes and smiled. He uttered an inaudible phrase (to the rest of the church) but you knew that it was gratitude for allowing him the opportunity. How moving it is to see him in this way and to know that Jesus, even more perfectly, did the same on that night many, many years ago.

I watched even later as the altar was stripped. The lights dimmed and everyone was still. The men and women were moving around quickly but in a sort of poetic movement. Father kneeled in front of me at the altar rail watching on and praying, I'm sure, as it happened. Another moving moment for me as I recognize Christ in our priest and his imitation of Him at that moment. As tears moved down my cheeks I noticed two of the seminarians at the altar. As everyone else moved around gathering things and exiting the altar, there they were folding the linens. They moved eloquently together, gently and precisely folding the linens to be removed. These men who have devoted their whole selves, their whole lives, their whole hearts to Christ Jesus were now stripping the altar on the night that we remember the institution of the Eucharist and thusly the priesthood. It was profoundly symbolic to me.

The last moments of the night, however, were truly the most moving - and most devastating. Just after Jesus was placed on our side altar (where Joseph usually stands) where he would remain for adoration, our priest read a passage ending in, "and they all left him and fled." All of the servers (altar servers, lectors, EMsHC, seminarians, deacons and priests) turned and left the sanctuary. People began to rise and move quietly out of the church. How devastating it was to turn from Him and leave. How much more ironic it was that we were to leave there and socialize with good company, perhaps at times forgetting what we had left.

The whole Mass came together for me spiritually and emotionally in a way which I had not expected walking into the church. I anxiosly await tonight's Mass, my 'favorite' of the season.


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