Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why I seem stubborn

I may not seem that way to you. You might think I'm easy going. But you would be wrong. I can be very stubborn. Or so some brides believe.

I'm not big on changing things in the Mass, the public prayer of the Church. "Maybe we could do that differently?" I most often get questions like that at weddings. Brides will see somethings in movies or at a friend's church- even another Catholic one- and will ask if I can do the same. One couple recently asked me if I would use a different translation of the Sacred Scripture for their wedding. Sorry.

I am not trying to be difficult. Nor am I underestimating my own intelligence and sensitivity. I would rather trust what the Church has given me than strike out on my own.

While (slowly) reading Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth I spotted a great expression of the position I try to take on these matters.

In his discussion on the Our Father, Pope Benedict cites one of his namesakes- St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order. From the Rule of Benedict Pope Benedict quotes: mens nostra concordet voci nostrae translated our mind must be in accord with our voice.

Both Benedicts, the pope and the saint, are talking about the unique posture of the Christian at prayer. Usually, in human experience, our thoughts come first and then we search for words to express ourselves. The Christian at prayer is given words- primarily in Jesus' own prayer, the Our Father- to which we strive to conform our minds. Forgiveness of sins, desiring the Father's will, and relying on the Father's providence are all petitions in the Our Father with which we strive with to be in accord. This is the heart of our active and actual participation in the Sunday Mass- to bring our thoughts, feelings, and desires in agreement with the words we pray.

As a Catholic I believe that Jesus has entrusted us with prayers, Sacred Scripture, and the celebration of the Eucharist (the Mass). He entrusted these to us through His Church. I want to trust Him and I want to trust the Church. I want to give my own mind over to the mind behind those prayers. I desire that, through the living out of my Catholic faith, my mind might be in accord with my voice.

So when I say "I forgive you," "Peace be with you," and "I am sorry," I want to mean it. I know myself, I know that I want to hide from challenges, so I am wary that if I change one thing in the Mass, there is no telling what I'll change, what I'll hide from next. Jesus and His Church are the ones we strive to be accord with, not the other way around.

Mens nostra concordet voci nostrae

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