Thursday, March 24, 2005


I can't believe it's getting this close. Maundy Thursday tonight. It was powerful. I sinned in anger only minutes before arriving at Mass (ah, Taiwan traffic). I guess that "helped" me begin on the right foot, which is to say on the penitential bended knee.

Along the same lines, I have felt pensive this week. I feel like I want to cut every extraneous thing out of my schedule so I may carve even the smallest bit more space in my life for the Lord. I cancelled my German class Wednesday and have even slowed my reading pace from “maniacally obsessive” to “merely feverish”. Also, at the risk of wearing my devotion on my sleeve (contra Mth. 6:16ff.), I intend to fast from some favorite creature comforts until Easter Sunday.

As for the Mass tonight, before leaving home I prepared by reading the missal in English, which helped me follow along in Chinese. (Nothing like a Chinese Mass to encourage me my Chinese is actually making progress!) I couldn't make much sense of the homily, but the Scriptures were enough to reflect on in the meanwhile. As the Mass progressed, I was increasingly aware of the gravity, the enormity, of sin which Christ bore for us. Towards the end of the Mass, as the Holy Gifts were transferred from the altar to a side monstrance, I nearly wept[1] as I envisioned Christ being carried to his passion at the hands of sinful men and women. As then, so now. Then, as the bishops, priests and deacons stripped the altar, snuffed the candles and removed the flowers, I felt almost physically pierced by the sight of Christ' wounds. His Passion flared to life in my heart, nearly blinding the eye of my soul. Like St. Thomas, precisely in beholding our Lord's wounds on our behalf was I able to recognize him as my Lord and my God (cf. Jhn 20:24ff.). St. Thomas's confession captures the essence of the Holy Week, for they are a divinely inspired and paradoxical blend of repentant grief (Good Friday) and stupefied joy (Easter). I recalled his words with such force, they nearly broke through my lips to break the silence around me.

Apropos silence, that is how I ended my time with the Lord at Mass. I asked him to help me hear his voice. I asked him not so much to help me insist the world around me "shut up!", but rather that *I* become deaf to the world. Christ is well known for healing the deaf, but I think he deserves just as much awe, or more, for deafening the sinful. I need to be deafened. Fortunately, when we repent, the silence is deafening. Repentance is largely an act of muteness on our part, in which we shut up long enough to acknowledge we have no basis for a “retort” before a holy God. The muteness of repentance, in turn, strikes us with deafness to all things unholy and thus opens our ears to all things holy. "In my silence, O Lord," I prayed, "help me to deafen the world. As I listen to you – in that silence of awe – may the world go deaf. Not with my shouting for your name, but in my silence before your glory."

This is an immense time for me, dear readers. Please pray for me.

Dear St. Francis de Sales, heavenly writer, pray to the Lord that I may have a tender heart. Pray to him that I may attain a heart as tender as his own Sacred Heart, which was and is pierced by me and for me. Help me learn how to shepherd the wayward just as our Lord taught you to do so.

Dear St. Ignatius of Loyola, mentor of the meek, pray to the Lord that I may have Christ's strength – but only insofar as I use it as he did so. Help me learn the strength of humility just as our Lord taught you to do so.

Dear Sts. Cyril and Methodius, pray to the Lord our God that I may serve him in the unity of his Church, both in word and in deed. Pray to the Lord for mercy, as I so often fail to live in the unity of God's Good News. Pray to the Lord that I may truly know the unity and peace of God, both in my soul and in the larger communal life of the Church. Help me to live and die for the unity of new life in Christ, a wholeness which only God's love can bring.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, and my own Mother in Christ, pray for me now and at the hour of my death (ah, Taiwan traffic). Help me to thirst for holiness just as you did. Help me to trust I will indeed be filled one day, just as you were from the first moment of your life. Thank you, dear Mary, for reminding me that if we have the obligation, even the instinct, for awe in the presence of angels, all the more should we have the awareness of glory in a vessel of grace such as yourself.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for providing these great saints (in heaven and online) to support me at this time. May we all be one, O Lord, as you are one, both in the purity of your soul and in the mystical communion of the Most Holy Trinity. I am not worthy to receive you, O Lord, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

[1] I have the faintest sense some readers think I'm being hyperbolic or, let us say, spiritually sensationalistic when I say things like this. I hope I come acrossa s genuinely as I mean to, but, assuming they're right, my hyperbole exists in how I experience things, not in how I report them. I admit to having a hyperbolic heart, I guess, but I try at all costs to avoid having a hyperbolic voice.

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