Monday, July 30, 2012

The Broad Place

The Word Incarnate in Christ, the Logos, is not just the power that gives meaning to the individual, not even just the power that gives meaning to history. No, he is the creative Meaning from which the universe comes and which the universe, the cosmos, reflects. That is why this Word leads us out of individualism into the communion of saints spanning all times and places. This is the ‘broad place’ (Ps 31:8), the redemptive breadth into which the Lord places us. But its span stretches still farther… Christian liturgy is always a cosmic liturgy.
Spirit of the Liturgy, 151

Reflection – ‘You have set my feet in a broad place.’ It is hard for us to grasp at times just how big the Christian religion is. We show up at church on Sunday, and there’s boring old Fr. X. or nice-but-not-too-spectacular Fr. Y. or maybe it will be Fr. Z. who we really like and who preaches really well… and then there’s boring old us and our usual problems and complaints and trials, worn thin and smooth with time…

And there’s Mrs. G. who annoys us, Mr. R who is a bit odd, A, B, C, and D who we like but who (really) are nothing too special. And (oh yes,) there’s S and T praying away over in the corner who are really quite holy—always nice to have a saint or two on the premises!

And the music is so-so or OK or terrible, perhaps, and the church itself is either nice or ugly, depending on who you ask, and the readings and prayers are what they are, familiar with time and usage and perhaps not too closely listened to…

Cosmic? Are you kidding me? Maybe closer to comic some days, but cosmic? Really?

Yeah, really. We little ordinary mediocre (perhaps) people doing this humble ordinary liturgical thing which we may or may not do very well—this is the cosmic liturgy in its essence.

The very stars and nebulae and galaxies are gathered together in the great Collect of the Mass. The very particles and quanta, the sub-atomic level of reality, is joining us in singing the great doxology. The readings, well or badly delivered, resonate off of wood and stone, marble and glass, and are carried on the air to the ends of the earth.

All creation is offered in the bread and wine. The whole universe revolves around the altar, that still point in a changing world where Christ Himself enters, blesses, breaks, transforms. The medievals were right, after all: the earth is the center of the universe. All the spheres of the heaven rotate around this one moment, this one place, this one Offering, this one act of worship and encounter.

All creation, the whole cosmos, flows from and flows towards the Word of God, made visible and tangible in Christ the Lord. All creation, then, is made what it should be, brought to its completion, its consummation, its great nuptial fulfillment, in every Mass, in the one Mass, the one offering of Christ to the Father, poured out as love and food for the world. The whole cosmos is set to right, is put in order, as that little container of bread and little chalice of wine is brought to the altar and touched and transubstantiated by Christ before our very eyes.

This is our holy Catholic faith, and this is why (of course!) it’s so important that we ‘do’ the Mass, at least our minute part in the Mass, with all the reverence, care, hard work for beauty, that we can muster. We are so very little, and God is so very big, and what He is doing in Christ, in the Church, in the priest (boring old Fr. X or whoever), is so very, very big.

Cosmic… and yes, comic, in fact, in the deeper sense of the word. This is the great ‘happy ending’ of the universe, to be offered up to Christ, made one with Him, and blessed from the heart of the Trinity in this encounter with love.

And that’s what we do in church every Sunday - that's the broad place where the Lord has set our feet. Cool, eh?

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