Posted by: Peadar Ban | August 12, 2013

A Catholic Trifecta, August 11, 2013

Yesterday was a lovely day, and that means for Catholics, among whose number I happily find myself, it was The Lord’s Day, the First Day of the New Creation.  There is a hymn a few hundred years old that we Catholics sing from time to time.  It is usually sung during Lauds on Sunday, and begins this way:  On this day, the first of days, God the Father’s name we praise..  Here is a link to the of lyrics the hymn.

And, here is a rendition by a monk in his chapel somewhere, simple, profound and beautiful in its profound simplicity: The First of Days

You really should take a look at it.  It does a good job, that hymn, assuring us there really is a reason to get up and go to church on Sunday.

I have long been in love with The Faith, as we Catholics call this thing that lives, and that we live in.  It is so many things: a labyrinth, a maze, a lovely path, a mighty storm, a vast ocean, an even vaster universe and a single pilgrim’s sometimes lonely journey.  And, I’ve not even scratched the surface.  Did I mention a happy place?  Oh, the most happy place there can be, that’s The Church.  That’s the Faith.

That labyrinth is many layered, you know.  Take yesterday, the First of Days, what every Sunday is.  It was also the Feast Day of Saint Clare of Assisi, the foundress and mystic, the beautiful friend of Saint Francis of Assisi, who was in love with God.  So was she!  In paintings and statues Saint Clare is always pictured holding a Monstrance.  That is because when she was an old woman she saved her convent and the town of San Damiano by appearing before the attacking soldiers with the Monstrance in her hands, and praying before it that the attackers would leave.  They did.  I am told that the enemy soldiers were Muslims. Sometimes I wonder how she felt that day; how far into the labyrinth, up the mountain, across the wide ocean, among the myriad stars was she when she brought Christ along with her to meet His visitors.

St. Clare has a special place in our lives.

You see we were married on her Feast Day back in 2000; married in Blessed Sacrament Church, in Newark, OH, after the 8:30 am Mass.  Father Tim Hayes, our confessor and spiritual director at the time, did the knot tying.  The church was packed – with one woman who had remained to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament before Whom we exchanged our vows; oh, and us, of course.  She gave us $20.00 as a present to buy ourselves a drink.

And that was it!

There’s the Trifecta, our anniversary hidden beneath St. Clare’s Feast Day which is hidden beneath The First of Days, wrapped in the Mass and the presence of Christ – which is always there:  “I will be with you always, even to the end of days.”

You know how it is, don’t you?  How it sometimes takes a while for the mist to clear and things that have been in the shadows to take shape.  I had known that our anniversary was approaching.  We aren’t really big on that kind of thing; the cards, the letters.  Well I’m not.  But I was thinking about it.  One of our younger friends posted something about her anniversary.  She lauded husband, and included a wedding picture on Saturday, the day before ours.  I saw the shapes behind the curtain, shimmering in the mist.

We always get up early on Sunday mornings.  We provide the music for the eight o’clock Mass.  At about 5:00am I walked out into the back yard and looked around.  The sun was just reddening the horizon, and a few early birds were hanging around the feeders.  Over at the very edge of our little corner of the world the Datura Plant, the largest one I’ve ever seen was filled with blooms, their fragrance sweetening the rising mist. I think now of the words: “Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight…”  Yesterday, I thought of the pure gift coming in the other direction, of being bathed in grace, somehow.  Fill your mind with a thousand other allusions to the riches we enjoy.  The odd thing was that this huge and beautiful structure had begun its life and was living it vigorously in the middle of out compost heap, in our own little garbage dump.

And, after a few minutes dealing with that I walked back inside to get my camera:

Angels Trumpets Sing the Day Awake Moon Flowers Serenade the Night Away

Angels’ Trumpets Sing the Day Awake
Moon Flowers Serenade the Night Away

I took the picture at 5:13 am as I began to see clearly inside myself and outside in the world around. These were the things I saw:

He lay down helpless, small in the straw far away, didn’t he?

Here on a heap of trash He scatters purity and beauty with abandon.

An old woman carried him before a besieging horde, and they melted away.

Two people He joins together in mystery and adventure, and becomes a part of their lives.

On the First of Days he repeats, and repeats, “I will be with you…” “I am with you.  And, you are with Me.”

It occurred to me as I stood there and watched the bees working that on that day thirteen short years ago two folks did not so much become one as did three become two.  And, it seems now that our goal for eternity is evermore to become one.  Perhaps I should re-title this little ramble and call it A Catholic Superfecta.  But, no, this is my race.  You may run your own.  As a matter of fact, you must run your own.  May you win!

NOTE:  For those who might not know it…and they may be quite a few Catholics among them…a Monstrance is a vessel used to hold the sacred host when it is removed from the tabernacle and exposed for Adoration.

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