Irish Mist

I was late to church on Sunday. Instead I slowed down to listen to a show, “On the Media,” on National Public Radio. A listener from Omaha had written about a prior piece on the show, relating how he had been asked to give a Victim’s Impact Statement following the death of a very close friend. He stated that he had elected not to make a statement to the court, expressing the impact of this death, of this life, for him which had been huge, but he was cognizant that if the young man who had been killed had been homeless, then the court was not serving justice, was appealing only to the emotions of the survivors, judging the worth of a life that the court had no business making, attempting perhaps to placate the survivors.

Yeah, I was late and had I missed the entrance hymn, which had been the reason I chose to attend this Mass in the first place. The Feast of Christ the King had touched my heart for the past ten years. My father had died two days before this feast. In 1998. Five days short of his 48th wedding anniversary. In the interval of the death on Friday morning and his Monday funeral, the family had planned the liturgy for the funeral Mass on that Saturday before. For the funeral on a Monday evening, the family had elected a reading from the Old Testament as well as the responsorial Psalm song between the readings which I had suggested.

That responsorial Psalm was part of the liturgy today, connecting me to that funeral Mass. This Catholic parish had hired a brass section for the end of the liturgical year celebration. Now horns in Mass recently had an effect on me in liturgical celebrations. It was as if it was a call that awakened my heart. And horns are not often heard in ordinary time in liturgical celebrations — for me, over the past 12 months of this liturgical year, on Christmas and at a wedding.

Once I had today missed all but the end of the opening hymn — “Rejoice, the Lord is King” — I thought I was safe for the day from any public display of emotion. At least until that Marty Haugen Responsorial Psalm, “Shepard Me, O Lord” was sung. And throughout the Mass today I was struck by the connection of Father and Son. In the readings. And with my father to me. The older I got the celebration of the Mass as a celebration, the subtleness of the language in the ritual — what the hierarchy called the mystery but never really explained — grew on me.

Ten years ago they had had the brass come in for The Feast of Christ the King. In the interval of the death on Friday morning and his Monday funeral. That day was actually the first time I had been in any church to pray since my dad had died. And it was a song played after communion which that day in 1998 had touched me, on the Feast of Christ the King.

As they say, I lost it. I openly was weeping. Probably more an unrelenting Irish mist but for what seemed like a long time, in the movement of the post communion song composed by Jacques Berthier, “Jesus Remember Me.” In retrospect, I am glad it did not occur at the funeral. As a man, I do not like to be seen weeping. But ever since that day, this particular church had a claim on me for this The Feast of Christ the King.

What any non-Christian would miss it, was that Passover, the Last Supper, was a celebration of life. The Gloria, this Victim’s Impact Statement, was the connection of the Son to the Father. In faith. In hope. In love. The subtleness of the mystery. The readings: The humanness of Jesus. God in His incredible subtleness, day in and day out. Until you eventually figured some things out. You seldom saw writers of Scripture noting the death of a carpenter on a cross. His medium. The medium that he chose to work with in his every day life. Jesus had not become a preacher when he was done with his schooling. The wood was the medium that Jesus of Nazareth had worked with every day. A carpenter like his own father before him, like Noah. His art. In his life. And in his death. It was the subtleness of God that so many missed. In a new creation.

What had claimed me today, was Paul reflecting on the human, “Death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man.” The reality of it all. On the same earth that I walked on. A real HUMAN BEING had redeemed humanity. The Gospel reading about the Final Judgment, judging the worth of a life that the court, no human jury, could make: ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

And what had caused me to be late as I listened to what seemed to be a comment about a Victim’s Impact Statement, as I heard the connection between “Shepard Me, O Lord” sung today and my father’s funeral Mass, a reflection of a life, the golden brass which had grabbed my heart strings, making connections between Father and Son, the impact of this death, of this life, which had been everything. To me. My dad. This Feast of Christ the King. That Victim’s Impact Statement, which claimed me today. The HUMAN. And the divine.

This mysterious celebration was all about the resurrection of the dead.

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1 comment so far

  1. paperlessworld on

    Passover. God said, “Do not draw near here. Take your shoes off your feet, because the place upon which you stand is holy soil.” God had heard the cries of “my people” in Egypt. And from, what the Hebrew Bible calls, within the thorn bush, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry because of their slave drivers, for I know their pains. I have descended to rescue them from the hand[s] of the Egyptian

    The instruction to touch the ground. Like Moses had once been instructed, “Take your shoes off your feet.” Touch the earth where you have lived. Get involved, with all the conflict.

    Along the way, the refugee who fled the Pharaoh, with this cock-eyed “Bag Lady” fear. How do you punish them? Just like as a priest had so little, when a slave had so little? Why is there such pre-occupation with punishment of someone you know? At the burning bush, Moses discovered God’s attempt at reconciliation. About the past. For what happened to the world of Noah. For what looked to be His indifference… to all the innocent children, to all the great people who had suffered. And died. So the affliction of the people in Egypt was the basis for Moses killing a man. For slavery. Behold this incomplete story of handmaids and slavery. Originally… For the sons of Abraham.

    It all started, this story of exodus, when Moses decided to come closer to God in that burning bush. In a sequel to the earlier story, after it had been the earth that was cursed in the Garden of Eden, it all started … this story of redemption, with instruction to touch the ground with your own bare feet.

    Connecting the disconnected.

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