Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Beauty of Thy House


There's a discussion going on at WDTPRS sparked by a question buried within a not-very-good criticism of last Saturday's Solemn Pontifical High Mass.

The question is "how did Saturday’s "solemn high pontifical Mass in the extraordinary form" bear witness to the kingdom of God Jesus announced"?

How sad that the Psalmist statement has been forgotten, "I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth." (Ps. 25:8)

How beautifully the Psalmist reminds us that God's house is where we encounter the glory of God. We have forgotten this in our minimalist liturgies, our relaxed dress and manners at Mass. We are so very proud of the lean-ness, the stripped-down nature of our liturgies as though this is our offering of humility to the Lord.

Indeed, God desires a humble heart. But at worship, our eyes are lifted from our navels to the glory of God. Instead, we are moved by deep joy to offer our very best for His glory. And for a brief moment in time, what St. Gregory the Great said about consecration, "...the heavens are opened...things below are joined to things on high..." We are caught up in the Divine action for our salvation that is revealed to us in the liturgy of the Mass. It's more than just a meal. It is Divine Wedding Banquet.

In the book Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI, in the chapter on the Lord's Prayer, he talked about how we try to bring heaven down to earth instead of earth being lifted up heavenward. Gerard Manley Hopkins, in the poem "The Grandeur of God", refers to all being "bleared, smeared with toil." The line above speaks to "generations have trod, have trod, have trod", an emphatic understanding of the way we are trapped in the misery and sterility of work.

Is it not right, then, that when we enter the Lord's rest in His House to give him glory, we put aside the "trade" and revel in God's glory. In it we are given refreshment, we are given strength to go on in the toil of our crosses, our daily grind. The scandal of our sins and failures recede when confronted by the ceremony and rituals of the liturgy, we are mesmerized by the glory of God, and we live into the joy of the Lord's salvation.

*Photo of the apse at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, taken during one of my many pilgrimages there.*

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