Better late than never…
I’m grateful that I was able to observe this First Friday by participating, sacramentally, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In other words, I got to physically go to church. My parents and I were a little late getting there, so, when we came in the ramped side entrance, the congregation was already standing and the priest was already entering at the altar. So, we stayed in the seats of that side apse.
I have never watched the consecration from the same level of the sanctuary – and, since the church we attended has a large crucifix suspended from the ceiling above the altar, I gazed upon Jesus on the cross from the side for the first time. I thought to myself, it’s like seeing Christ crucified from the position of one of the thieves crucified with him. Really, what I saw most was the statue’s armpit and the bent position of his knees. I missed seeing his face. I truly missed seeing a depiction of Christ’s face. The corpus was made of some kind of stone or ceramic and, so, could not move – like Jesus after he had breathed his last… after that he could not turn his face toward the ones crucified with him. How good it must have been for that one crucified thief to be able to turn to Jesus and to speak to him before dying, to look at him face-to-face, and to hear Jesus bless and comfort him. Perhaps the man was late in getting there, but he was received most fully and beautifully. I believe that he must have died in the deepest sense of peace.
Every time a new calendar year begins, we hear a lot of talk about peace. We see banners above sidewalks proclaiming “Peace on Earth” and, at most every religious service or secular public gathering, there will be a wish, or a call to pray for, world peace. As Christians, we believe in eternal peace at the end of days for those who choose love, for those who, even at the very last moment, choose God. And we can have a certain kind of peace in our hearts just believing in that eternal life, in Paradise. But, I believe that there is another kind of peace that Christ gives – peace that is here and now and not just about everything being better later, after we are dead. This is the kind of peace that is so much more than the absence of war or the absence of suffering. This peace is not about bright, loud revelry or even the quiet enjoyment of a sunrise. It’s the kind of peace that the world cannot give. It’s the kind of peace that only comes through divine love – through the receiving of divine love and the giving, for true peace is never stagnant or immovable. It’s… well, it’s peace that cannot be described in words. But, Christ did talk about it in his ministry:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” [John 14:27]
I take these words as my Faith Facilitator for this January. And I take them as they have been set to music, in a song that I pray will lead me into this new year…
May your joy be ever full!
© 2015 Christina Chase
This has been part of the Faith Facilitator series – to read more click here.
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.