Aequum Est


It had been a morning of black bananas at my home when I entered St. Agnes. And I did not look really look forward either to what was inside this church, in the fortnight or less before another papal plane landed.  St. Agnes for me represented the side that had won the war within the church over the last 50 years.  As I did not expect much from a black banana in the way of taste, from what was inside, which might explain the lack of appeal of the Catholic Church to the generation after me. 

 

I had always thought of St. Agnes a lot like I did the Klu Klux Klan, a thing of the past, a relic of a bye-gone era that I could not quite grasp.  This was a place for people who were trying to hold onto something from history, a people out of touch with the present day.  And in one sense, it all seemed there initially:  priests turning their backs on the laity with the resulting refusal to recognize the voices, a refusal to recognize the authenticity of the female spiritual relationship with the divine, with the ensuing lack of institutional recognition of their work, their ministry.  This was the patriarchal interpretation of Salvation History.

 

Now I was at least 12 minutes late, after making a stop at the airport but I still had not missed the first reading.  This was one slow method of prayer.  In downtown Minneapolis, there was a monthly African Mass, reflecting a culture that had more time to celebrate on Sunday.  Americans were busier people.  Once inside, looking around, I was amazed at what I saw.  I never expected the splendor of the colors within this church in this part of town.  And as the Mass continued, I was amazed at the prayers the congregation knew that I did not.  And I had been schooled in Catholic institutions from the age of 5 through 22. 

 

I was amazed at the response of the congregation to the Latin, as a 4-year Latin student myself, as the last class of altar boys of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass.  The worshipers were mostly younger than 50, working class people.  And somewhere there had been the preparation in a community, as in all communities to continue a tradition, how to teach prayer and how to pass the intangibles on.

       

The liturgy on this Sunday was about changed perception, recognizing Jesus in all things. And I was changed by what I saw.  Kneeling at the communion, in the days of old, did bring a renewed respect for what was happening. 

 

AND THE MUSIC of Mozart: that was why I had been invited.  Music reflected in the battle of traditional Christian churches, with an academic base, the factions within Christianity, in which something was created which happened over time, with various transitions, a symphony with very different movements.  Growth, acquisitions, transitions, with some attrition, yet still aiming at unity someday. Music was an art aiming at unity, and it was Mozart who showed any listener that it was right to give thanks and praise to this God.  I had heard a bit of Vivaldi’s Mass, Gloria in D Major, in the days since Easter.  Vivaldi witness vibrated the heart when the same music was used for the Gloria as for the Sanctus.  But for me Mozart brought a re-birth to what was going on.  AND IN THE MUSIC OF MOZART, what a performance.  Of people who live somewhere scattered among us.   

 

When I was a freshman in high school, I was taught a class by Bill Ozark with the name ”Salvation History.”  Of late, especially at Easter, I think often of that course. For me, there was an ever visible theme to world history.  And “Salvation History” seemed to include the infinite time when God lived alone in the heavens with His creative impulses.  And all along he kept trying.  When he formed man in his image and likeness, men and women kept trying.  And again and again, people failed.   

 

Resurrection consequentially is about forgiveness.  Resurrection was God’s divine way to demonstrate that all of history was about the attempt to keep trying.  Woman, Man, generation after generation of people.  People I have met and people I never knew, some related to me, have kept trying.  People of Ireland who tried to form a nation once again, on Easter.  People whose DNA I shared.  People who forgave and started over, with the resolve to try to do good.  Because we were divine, from age to age, from east to west, and we all were here to keep trying.   

 

Salvation History was that story about God, demonstrated in the tradition of Abraham who really had lived.  Moses was a true person.  David had actually ruled as king.  And Jesus had really lived and died.  I believed his story was not about how he was put to death, not another story about man’s inhumanity to man, but His life’s purpose was about the meaning of all history. On a morning that had started with black bananas, it seemed fitting and proper to hear this Latin of a different time, to hear Mozart in commemorating Dr. Sullivan, to recall people who had lived and died, to recall Bill Ozark, and to look at the next generation of Sullivans, in this Easter season of re-birth, resurrection. 

 

As they say at St. Agnes, Aequum est….to keep trying.

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