Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Observation Mode

Yesterday my good friend Chrissy mentioned to me that I have not been blogging much lately. Thats true. The reason isn't intentional but looking over the last month or so I have been in what I would call "observation mode". Observation Mode means that I have been having a keen eye on things I would normally post about but keeping my mouth shut before I say something I will have to retract later on.

Not only that but there have been a lot of ways in which I have progressed spiritually. For one I have really begun to appreciate the lives of certain saints. I don't mean just "wow, that guy's neat" or something superficial like that. For instance when I read about Saint Francis (I have three biographies of him) there is in his character something that tugs at me. Its a very gentle pull towards a different way of life that society promotes. It could be the beginning of something bigger. Who knows.

But then I also have been reading St. Therese's "Story of a Soul". Last night I re-read the part about her first communion and all I could think about was how I wished I would have read that before mine. St. Therese saw holiness in ordinary things in unparalleled fashion.

There have been other things going on as well. Some of them not so nice. I personally witnessed someone (remains nameless here) who was seriously questioning some aspects of his faith called a heretic and was declared "going to hell" to his face. How about some charity? Two weeks later I saw real teeth come out against him which were for lack of better words unwarranted, sudden, and disturbing. It seems to some people the definition of charity is to shove truth down someone's throat rather than serve it on a plate. For that matter buffet style is also not appropriate.

On the Ordinary Form front I have been moving towards playing the organ/cantoring every other week at a local parish. Part of that means I have to take the time to attend on Saturday evenings and work with the regular organist and figure out what I will be doing. So I went out and bought a New St. Joseph's Sunday Missal. I brought it to mass with me and the lady behind me was very enthusiastic to see it in the pew. Seeing the missal reminded her of her childhood (she's probably mid 50s) and it turns out she never through away her Extraordinary Form missal from previous days. I invited her to my parish and let her know the mass schedule. She was pretty excited.

Last Sunday in West Chester I arrived early again for Mass. I decided to stick with my plan of sitting up towards the front and in the middle to avoid and unpleasantness. It worked well enough. The only problem is that people at St. Agnes treat their parish like a party zone after Mass ends. No matter. I stayed and made thanksgiving even with the people a couple of pews up blocking my tabernacle view chatting it up. However, before mass started everything was just fine. I do consider this a great experience at St. Agnes though and here's why:

Just before Mass began there was a family sitting behind me. I heard a little voice come out from behind me. It said, "Daddy, why is there a candle lit hanging from the ceiling." The father answered his kid, "That means Jesus, our God, is present in the Eucharist." The answer would have shocked some traditional people I know who think nothing good can come of the Ordinary Form. It was a wonderful way to start my week.

I have also begun to appreciate Low Mass in new ways. Friday night Low Mass has become "my weekly mass". It is the one that I can assist at the most fully. That probably sounds ridiculous to some. Low Mass to them is a trial. But not to me. I am most able to pray with the priest when I am not singing or playing the organ. When I am performing some function it is distracting and I am not focused on the sacrifice going on but what I am doing. I really think the Ordinary Form creators missed the mark on this least in my case.

So this is just a few observations I have made. I didn't learn anything new intellectually but in practice I have taken in a lot. So what did I "learn"? Holiness does not automatically come by conforming to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Holiness is not precluded because you attend a regular parish. Holiness comes from the grace of God and hard work on our part. Piety and holiness are not the same thing. I saw the difference between material and formal heresy, and that those questioning their faith or doubting parts of it should be treated charitably. I have been learning that material goods are not the answer in life. They are only a means of physical survival. If they help us achieve heaven then great. If they encourage us to hell then we shouldn't desire them.

I am going to continue Observation Mode for now. That doesn't have a direct consequence to my posting however. Pax et bonum.

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"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton