Friday, February 22, 2008

Anniversary Mass

Today is the third anniversary of the death of Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of the lay ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation.
Well in advance, our small local CL community approached our bishop to ask him when and where he would celebrate Mass on this day and whether he would be willing to include the Mass intention. We learned that he would be visiting a parish in a town nearby to say the 8:30am Mass for the school children there and that he would be willing to offer the Mass for Father Giussani. Plans were made, rides coordinated, and a small brunch planned for after the Mass, but then today arrived with sleet and freezing rain mixed with snow... and school was canceled.

When school is canceled, there is no school Mass and therefore no bishop and no Mass intention! We called everyone and decided not to risk the icy roads for a Mass that would be like all the others offered later in the day, when the roads would be less treacherous; but the brunch would still happen at the arranged time. Then I called my pastor to ask him whether he might be able to help us somehow; he told me he would call me back. Meanwhile, my friends began to arrive at my house for brunch; then my pastor called to say that a priest would be saying Mass at the chapel of a local hospital at 11:30am, and he was willing to offer it for Father Giussani. We quickly fed the children pancakes, piled into our cars and raced to the hospital. By then, there were 11 of us (including children). The Mass was small, intimate, and simple.

What strikes me most about what happened today was how determined I was to see that the Mass should happen, and how flexible and patient and generous my friends were when the plans changed and changed again. It is a miracle that this Mass took place and that we were present and able to celebrate it together -- a miracle that needed the cooperation and generosity of many people. I am in grateful awe that my pastor was willing to make the arrangements for us with so little notice, that the presiding priest was willing to help us, and that the people who came to the Mass were willing to tolerate bad driving conditions and a lot of general uncertainty in order to be together and present for this beautiful moment of prayer.

Afterwards, we returned to my house to eat and to reflect together on our lives. We spoke about so many things. It was an exhausting day, and one I will treasure in my heart.

Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam!


Marie said...

A most beautiful day! And I thought I was the only one who found is exhausting! There is such a thing as a very fulfilling exhausting, though :)

Justine said...

I'm glad you ended up having a Mass! I've been feeling sorry for you, first the Mass, then the concert.
Tis Lent, I suppose.

Suzanne said...

No, you mustn't feel sorry! We had such a beautiful evening tonight -- lots of singing and good friendship. I'm sad that I didn't get to see Riro because he's a very dear person, but at least I got to see his wife and his daughter last weekend, so even in this sense, I'm not so deprived! At the moment, I feel like one of the most blessed people on the planet...

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."