Wednesday, December 12, 2007

new connections with Catholicism (pt. 2)

Last week, right before the Harp 46 show, I had an opportunity to go to the mass for a friend Marc Gherardi who was taking his perpetual vows to become a full member of his community of monks, which is the order of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. My good friend Ben went with me (as seen previously in the night zombie pics from this summer) and we had a great time at both the mass and the Harp 46 show. I don't know if you've ever had an opportunity to experience a mass where someone takes their vows, but it was beautiful.

During the mass, at one point there was a time where Marc laid prostrate before his community and God, while we sang and prayed for him as he humbled himself before all so as to demonstrate and embody humility and hope in the grace that he believes God will provide to help him live a life of service. It was quite moving. I was thinking about all the other times that I'd seen protestant leaders demonstrate that kind of radical humility, by laying face down on the floor in the middle of the gathered community, humbly demonstrating their dependence on God and the help of the community. It was a quick thought, because I'd never seen it happen with a protestant leader...and probably never will. Can you imagine the ordination of a pastor in a Baptist church which includes the candidate laying face down on the floor while the community prays and sings out their support and hopes for them?

Along with following a lectionary, it's amazing how serious Catholics take the Bible, and how often they read it, quote it, and share it throughout the service, especially in the language of the liturgy. It was a wonderful evening, and for the first time, along with getting to catch up with some of the other Oblates I know, the service was held in a cloistered convent, which is also something you don't get to experience everyday. The Sisters of the Visitation of Tyringham hosted the mass at their monastery. They were very kind, and I was reading up on them a little bit while I was there, and also online, and for those who wonder what cloistered nuns could possibly be about in a hyper-connected world, this is from their website:

The Visitation Sisters of Tyringham are cloistered, contemplative religious whose lives are dedicated to prayer and to living in community. In great simplicity we strive to be a gentle presence in a world threatened with terrorism and war. Our Salesian spirituality teaches us to be gentle towards ourselves, with each other, and with all persons with whom we come in contact.

A gentle presence in a world threatened with terrorism and war...sounds like they aren't as disconnected as one might think, and that they are doing their part in joining with God for the redemption of the world.

Overall, it was a beautiful evening, and a great time to experience the body of Christ in new ways, and support a new friend taking an important step in his vocation.

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