Thursday, February 14, 2013
I love the way James Joyce summed up the Catholic Church: "Here comes everybody."
At Ash Wednesday Mass last night, the church was packed. It was the bilingual Mass, and that means that I didn't understand half of what was said. The songs were in Spanish, and so were some of the responses. And I love that. I love being reminded of the universality of the church. The homily was delivered in English, and then in Spanish, requiring patience from the entire assembly. I love that, too, being reminded of the ways we're called to care for and about each other. I love that last night it felt as if we were one, enormous conglomeration of messed up humanity.
Let's go to Mass. Here comes everybody.
Fortunately, Jesus Christ isn't just anybody. He came for the conglomeration and mess, to help us sort it out. Having ashes on your forehead, having little bits of ash drop onto your nose, smudging ash on your hand as you bury your face in prayer ... all good reminders that we're not the ones in charge, we don't always look so great as we go about our business. We're messy.
Here comes everybody.
Working class, wealthy, teachers, bankers, plumbers, writers, waitresses, students, dog lovers, cat lovers, animal haters, hamster people, jeans, suits, dresses, pants, elderly, shrieking babies, sleeping babies, computer programmers, poets, sad faces, lonely ones, beaming faces, contentment .... Here comes everybody.
Lent has arrived. Some of us are excited, ready to dig in, ready to grow, ready to ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen us. Some of us are feeling exhausted, or resentful, wondering why, when every single day already feels like the desert, the Lord is asking us to give even more. Some of us aren't sure what to expect from Lent 2013, but we're willing to pause, to listen, to wonder, to act. To obey, and see what surprises God has in store for us. Here comes everybody.
My faith life is imperfect, shifting, mountaintop high, ocean-depth low, the center of my being, and the source of frustrations. It is beautiful and hard, strengthening and challenging, every moment present, and sometimes so far from my heart I want to cry. But my faith is what makes me who I am.
Here I come, Lent. Here comes everybody.