Thursday, July 17, 2008

Look upon thy Church...

The Latin program I’m attending here in Ireland has a surprising Catholic majority from the Americans in the group. Of the 16 students, 7 attend mass regularly, five daily, three study theology at a Catholic institution (called, very catholically, Christendom), and two are seminary students at the Gregorian University in Rome.

Since I’m in Ireland to study Latin in order to write a thesis on (Saint) Thomas More under the direction of a well-known Catholic intellectual, I am attending mass with my friends. Day after day this summer, we as a congregation have prayed

‘Lord I am not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs from your table, but only say the word and I shall be healed’
…only, my friends do end up gathering crumbs, and I kneel and only hear the word. But the word is a good one, and if the Word was made flesh then maybe I am gathering crumbs in a less sacramental sort of way.

One way or another, the discipline of attending a mass I cannot receive has allowed me to add the important disciple of prayer for Church unity into my daily rhythm. In that context, as I kneel and pray for a divided Church in which a local formerly-Catholic Irish Evangelical had picked a fight with my Catholic friend in Subway the other day, a Church with principles on both sides to back up long wedges and injury, the words of Saint Francis of Assisi have been on my lips daily this summer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is sorrow, joy;
where there is darkness, light.

Gracious Master, grant that I may seek
not so much to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

No comments: