I made a visit home to my parents a couple weeks ago, and as I was sitting in the living room I noticed a framed abstract print on one of the walls. It had been there for my entire life as my parents have lived in the same home for nearly 35 years. The picture’s focus is a medium-sized green rectangle surrounded by splashes of other colors: yellows, browns, blues, and oranges. Around the print is a white matte. I hadn’t really taken a good look at it in all these years nor had I appreciated it until that moment. I guess it was because it hadn’t moved from its spot on the wall for decades. My focused attention on the painting gave me a fresh view of it.
It’s so easy to get in a habit or a routine. I fell so deep into routine that I missed the beauty of a painting I passed every day for years while growing up. The same can hold true for going to Mass. Sure, the change in the translation shook us up for a bit one year ago, but if we’re not already, we’ll soon be back into a routine, possibly missing the beauty of the Mass. Every year at the Easter Vigil I get that fresh moment that renews my appreciation for liturgy. The Easter Vigil is packed with rich imagery, story, and symbol. You’ve got darkness and light, silence and sound, water and incense. I’m reminded of the art of liturgy, and for the next few weeks I go to Mass with a new awareness and appreciation for what happens.
Finding God in all things is also about finding God in the Mass! Pay more attention to the Church’s liturgical cycle, and you’ll find there’s always something that will give you that freshness. Like the natural seasons, each liturgical season has its own colors and rituals and stories. September may seem ordinary, but before we know it things will be purple, and new candles will be lit, and the readings will turn to our preparation for Jesus’ coming. But for now, don’t miss the grace of what seems ordinary yet is extraordinary, like that forgotten painting on my parents’ wall.
Thank you all for the comments! Jean, you make a good point about the Mass translation changes and that we’re all in it together whether we’re getting it right or are a bit off. It’s our community that drives us forward and helps us on our faith journey, hopefully keeping our eyes open to the extraordinary in the apparent routine.
Looking forward to writing more!
Your comment about the changes in the Mass responses reminded me of last weekend at our church. A woman slightly older than myself, sitting behind and to the left of me gave all the old responses throughout the Mass. I didn’t turn around to look, but at the passing of the peace had an opportunity to do so, and realized I’d never seen her before. Was she a visitor, been away from the Church for some time? At least since the beginning of last Advent?
We were all jangled last year as we tried to give the correct response and would often slip, so I imagined she must have felt as embarrassed as we did back then. How easy it is to slip into routine, how easy, too, to fall out of step with our Church community unless we make a determined effort to move forward with everyone through the liturgical seasons as well as on our faith journey.
At the end of Mass I wished her a good week ahead, said I hoped I’d see her next week.
Andy, thanks for the great reminder to pay attention! I need that every day.
Welcome! This is a powerful message about doing things by rote and missing the incredible experience of truly participating in the Mass or in life in general. As a convert to the Catholic expression of the Christian faith, I was “wowed” by the words of the liturgy when I began attending the RCC on a regular basis because I was coming from a denomination where I had learned Scripture and I recognized the richness of Scripture in the liturgy.
I appreciate what you write about September seeming ordinary but I will never forget what the priest said when I was just beginning to attend. His enthusiastic welcome at the beginning of Mass one Sunday was “I love Ordinary Time because then we can just focus on Jesus!” When I heard that, I knew God was calling me to the RCC.
What a wonderful post! I am looking forward to your contributions here at dotMagis. And today you have given me a gift, a reminder of the awareness that God calls us to.
What is before me today? I pray that I do not miss it.