Tuesday, July 2, 2013

American Idols

“Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.” 1 Peter 1: 17-19

The other day when I was in adoration a middle-aged woman entered the chapel. She reverently knelt before the Lord for a few moments before quietly asking me if it would be alright for her to change the altar linens. She proceeded to put on a pair of white, cloth gloves. As if carrying an infant, with great care and love in her eyes, she gracefully moved the monstrance off the altar and into the raised tabernacle above it. With movements that seemed to correspond to internal prayers, she delicately folded the corporal and altar cloth, folding each one with precision before placing them into a clear plastic bag. She then took a small, soft, clean white towel and slowly wiped the top, sides and legs of the altar (I am sure the most luxury car in the world was never cleaned with such care). Then she meticulously placed a crisp, unwrinkled new altar cloth on the altar, making sure the edges were the same length and perfectly apportioned from front and sides before gently laying a new corporal onto the center. Finally, she again lifted the monstrance from the tabernacle and set it down in the center of the altar as if nothing else in her life was as important as that moment. Then she silently knelt before her Lord for several minutes, grabbed her things and left the chapel.

What was certainly “routine” in some ways for her simply blew me away. Before she came in my thoughts had been wandering a bit had my prayers and been genuine, but not focused. As I watched her work I was humbled and inspired. Her love for Jesus and His Presence made me wonder about the things in our lives that become idols—things and people that we worship with more passion than we do God.  

What do you and I reverence? What do we hold dear? What is most important to us?

We are often embarrassed to kiss the crucifix on Good Friday. We sometimes come to Mass without a conscious thought of being truly present. Often at church we expect to be entertained and fed and ministered to, without actively giving God our attention, our hearts, our love or our worship. We want to receive without giving and consume without cost. 

Perhaps we have lost a sense of reverence in our world. And as this reverence for God evaporates from our daily lives, so does our reverence for one another. Rather than stand in awe of God and of one another, we merely live to exist for ourselves and for pleasure. Wrapped up in our cocoon of desires and pursuits, we fail to stand in reverence of anything outside of ourselves. In the end though, we risk not only the loss of true freedom, but ultimately even the ability to experience happiness. This is not God’s desire for us.

When we spend time in prayer, before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and at Mass, and we allow ourselves to go beyond ourselves to a true encounter with Christ, we are raised from our lowliness and immersed into something bigger than what and who we are. When we begin to live this reality in our daily lives, we will begin to live in reverence—in awe—of the world and people around us as well. At that point, we will begin to understand that the pursuit of happiness does not lie in being entertained and experiencing pleasure, but in bringing happiness and peace to others and in being content with what we have, who we are and the knowledge of Who loves us.

Dear Jesus, may I always approach You with a reverent heart so that my thoughts, words and actions may flow from a place of awe and wonder. Through Your grace, may I experience the happiness and peace that comes from seeing You and others through eyes of reverence. Amen.