There is no Sanctuary in this place

There is no sanctuary in our sanctuary.
In that holy time, in Your temple,
A time hopeful of preparation,
That time before we all join together
To celebrate the Holy Eucharist, the marriage feast—
that sacred memorial,
that hope-filled prayer—
Of You, Lord Jesus Christ, and Your bride, the church.

Between aspiring young voices braying pop gospel melodies,
Loudly, out of key;
And joyful elders (and all those others without the excuse of hearing loss)
Rejoicing in one another’s company,
Their voices pitched for sports stadia,
As even their whispers bounce to and fro
In a space fashioned to carry our praise of You to all corners.

There seemed no audial space remaining
for a quiet Hail Mary in the presence of our blessed sacrament.
So near to You, Father, yet so unreachable.

I resigned to the small chapel.
No blessed sacrament there.
But, with the human cacophony now muted,
I could hear Your soft cry, Oh Lord,
Weeping for us all.

For the aspirations of the young woman
Whose voice will forever be most appreciated in the pew;

For the lonely elders reveling in the presence of friends
After so long a time away from human companionship;

For You, Lord Jesus, our one and only divine companion,
Waiting patiently, watching hopefully,
Longing for just a glance,
A blessing,
A by-Your-leave, maybe?
A knee, oh gracious Lord,
For You who died for us,
For our salvation;

Most of all, for my sorrow-filled weakness, as I fled Your presence,
Removing myself from You, who is love,
Realizing my own frailty—spiritual, physical—
That overwhelms Your voice,
Singing to me
In the quiet of Your Sanctuary.

Have a Holy Thursday

I struggled early on after my conversion to Catholicism with whether to soldier through some of the challenges I was experiencing or whether to revert back to Anglo-Catholicism. I read whatever I could find to help understand what belief or lack of belief the Anglican martyrs held so strongly that they were willing to be tortured, burned, quartered…horrific atrocities. For most of them it came down to their disbelief in the Real Presence of God in the host and wine of the Eucharist. Many Anglicans also struggled with Marian devotions, but the central issue for most was whether and how God is…how He becomes…present physically in the host and wine. I felt convicted about the Anglican view for some time, and yet, periodically I continued to entertain conversations and prayer about the subject.

Finally, in the local grocery store one day I ran into the woman who had been my RCIA sponsor. We agreed to have lunch and, not surprisingly, the subject came up. There was the predictable back and forth, but I finally asked something like, ‘how can you believe in this?’ (I don’t remember my exact words.)

She said, ‘It’s the mystery. You have to leave room for the mystery of God’s presence.’

Well, I don’t know what it was about her words exactly, but something in me at that very moment just ‘got it.’

God is God. We aren’t.

We aren’t given to understand everything He knows with our rational minds, but we are able and are called upon to believe with our spiritual hearts.

I still don’t understand the Real Presence, but from that moment, I believed. And with that belief I was immediately awestruck with the incredible grace of this deeper relationship. Even today, it’s enormity thrusts me to my knees in praise and gratitude.

And, just one post script: more recently..a few years ago someone…maybe Bishop Barron…described how continual reception of the Real Presence changes one’s spiritual DNA. I’d go a step further to a belief that as my spiritual DNA has been altered over the last 15-20 years, my physical DNA has likely changed as well. It’s nothing I feel moved to test or prove or argue, but it’s one more of those things that I have complete faith is true.

Have a Holy Thursday and Triduum.