1.) Being Prepared
Someone asked me recently about the header image on this page. I assume you’re looking at it now. If not, go ahead. I’ll wait…
I’ve written this blog since 2008. True, most of my older posts have been archived. They were more for my kids to read one day and learn about their early life and all the fun things we did as a family. I’m very proud of that writing and I hope one day my kids will look with as much fondness on those time as I had when writing about them. Recently the focus of my writing shifted a bit. My life has shifted a bit. Prior to a few weeks ago the header was a funny picture of my Jack Russell Terrier. He was sitting in my lap in stopped traffic on an interstate in Texas. He had his paws on the steering wheel as though he was driving the car. Now, that image has been replaced with what you see above. And what you see is a home altar set for the Traditional Latin Mass. Believe me, I prefer mass in a church; but you see there was this snowstorm in Texas that knocked out power for a few days. When a flurry falls in the Lone Star State all roads become impassable. We happened to have a priest-friend visiting. All flights were cancelled so he stayed and said mass for us every day. If you look carefully you’ll see the altar cards (printed from my laptop and framed in the kids’ old piano recital frames), a statue of the Blessed Mother, crucifix, paintings of St. Joseph and the Christ Child and (again) of the Blessed Mother, two candles (low mass) made of beeswax and blessed using the traditional forms, and my favorite, an old copy of the 1970’s-era Worship hymnal used to prop up the Canon of the mass. How’s that for irony? Couple it with the clearly-visible snow out the window and it’s not a bad picture.
So, not to sound like one of those crazy traddy conspiracy nuts but… shhh… *Are you prepared for home mass? It’s not hard to get your home ready. Thanks to Bergoglio and “TC” it may become more of a thing down the road than you think. It may not either. Either way, it’s not a bad idea to be prepared.
2) He’s Still Not Pope, Just in Case You Forgot
In the epistle at mass this morning we heard this:
My source in Rome tells me (though any quick image search tells you all you need to know) that crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square or the serpentine audience hall nearby are simply not what they used to be. Imagine that the early Christians hoped simply that Peter’s shadow might fall on them. Today people just don’t seem interested. Could it be they know this guy ain’t Peter? Oh for the days of on unimpeded see!
3) What to Ponder Daily
Also in the missal is a prayer entitled “Subjects for Daily Meditation”. I love this one because it’s short and to the point. The prayer begins “Remember Christian that today thous hast…” and then lists off a dozen or so subjects for daily meditation. God to worship, the angels and saints to invoke, etc. The most striking, to me, is the line “judgment to face”. This is certainly very true and not something most of us want to think about. But how necessary it is TO think about it.
This past Sunday morning, while driving along a quiet stretch of I-20 in Alabama, I noticed a yellow Ryder moving truck parked perpendicular to the travel lanes. The truck was in that triangular area between where the highway continues and an exit ramp splits off. In New Jersey we used to refer to it as the “zebra stripes” but I think the Federal Highway Administration calls it the “gore”. As I got within 1/8 mile of this truck, the driver did something I was not expecting. He gunned his engine and darted straight onto the highway. It appears he had come the wrong way down the ramp, realized his (incredibly obvious) mistake, and decided the through lanes were the ideal spot for a giant U-turn. It also appears he did NOT see me barreling toward him in a Yukon at 85 MPH. No flex, it was a rental. A calm came over me as I said, “Honey, brace yourself,” to my wife seated beside me. And then, I promise you, my best friend, my guardian angel took the wheel and fishtailed me through that yellow blur. I just remember almost going off the road into a ditch and coming right back into the lane I was in as if nothing had happened. My niece from the back seat asked if I had taking tactical driving lessons from the FBI.
My life did not “flash before my eyes”. I had just been to mass. I try to make use of weekly confession. But in the time after that near-death experience I thought to myself, “Was I truly prepared?” I think the answer for all of us should be to live as though we could stand before the Just Judge at any moment. I’ve been trying to incorporate more devotional practices into my daily life and particularly for my family. I kiss the feet of Our Lord’s corpus on the crucifix in my bedroom before I leave in the morning. I carry my rosaries with me at all times. On that point, believe it or not, that practice had actually been beaten out of me as a young seminarian many years ago. See my last post and you’ll know why. But I want to have a greater intimacy with Our Lord and His Mother and the saints and my angel. I want to know that if I were suddenly standing before the cross, which is the “throne of judgment”, I would advance toward my bleeding, disfigured Savior and not run away in terror and shame.
That’s one reason why I go to mass every day – to prepare for Calvary by going to Calvary.
Holy Angel, My Guardian, Pray for me!
Our Lady of LaSallette, Pray for us!