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Friday, August 27, 2010

Strength Before the Lord

Today at Mass, before the Gospel was an exhortation to pray to be strong enough to stand before the Lord (in judgement):

Although I dutifully repeated the words of the prayer, knowing what they meant in the most transcendent way, the strength required to get there, the strength required to even be able to be present before the LORD in full knowledge of Who He Is, still, I pictured my day of Particular Judgment. I imagined, in my mind's eye, the Angry Jesus.  (Pictured above, mosaic at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception)

No, I don't want the strength to stand before the Lord;  standing is far too often, in the Latin Church, a sign of obstinate dissent flung into the Face of God Himself. [Especially in our American culture,] In the Latin Church (i.e. Roman Catholic) it is not a sign of reverence and awe to stand, and in American culture in general, standing, in particular, is a sign of  outright rebellion. Standing in the Latin Tradition is a sign of dissent, of "MY" desires to the detriment of the rest of the community of Catholics who kneel in reverence, recognizing by the worship of their bodily expression of humility in the face of God.

There are exceptions;  those *Religious* communities in the Benedictine Tradition may stand at certain points, however the worship belonging to a Rule of Life often does not properly translate to parish life and was never intended for such a thing, for most lay Catholics are NOT formed and schooled in the theology of the Benedictine Tradition.

I do not want the strength to *stand* before the Lord when I go before Him!  

Instead, I pray for the wisdom, humility, and weakness to fall at His feet, begging for mercy for all I have done to offend Him and all His Church, with full awareness of the harm I have caused to all.

I want to fall at His feet like Esther into the arms of the King, her spouse, praying not just for my own salvation, but that of all fallen souls.

None of us has strength in and of ourselves; all our strength comes from Him, but we must be humble enough not just to accept it, but to ASK for it.

"Oh, God, If I have found favor in your sight, please let me speak. Have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy! I  am all alone and have no one but Thee. Help me O Lord in your goodness. If I have found favor in your sight please hear me and grant my petition.  

I am all alone, and I have no one but Thee."

 (prayer written during Cistercian retreat, based upon the prayers of the fallen Queen Esther) 


Anonymous said...

This is a favorite image of mine - I do not see Jesus as "angry", but "just". He is separating the sheep from the goats in this depiction. This mosaic is one of the finest pieces of sacred art in existence.

Anonymous said...

You discuss that standing in the Latin Rite is not a sign of reverence.

What about the expectation to stand during the proclamation of the Gospel during Mass?

(Honest Question)

Adoro said...

Red Cat ~ I called him "Angry Jesus" because, well, yes, he does look angry and I love that fact, and yes, he is portrayed in His Divine Justice. It is an incredible work of art and I hope to one day go to the Shrine and see it myself.

Samantha ~ I knew someone would ask about that! Context IS important. In the Mass we sit for the readings as that is a "receptive" posture, so that we can receive the Word; but when the Gospel is preached, we are asked to stand to emphasize the honor given to God. In that context at that place in the Mass, it is not defiance.

Rather, what I was emphasizing was that in those parishes that "do their own thing" and stand instead of kneeling it has quite literally been preached to people that humility is not needed during the consecration, because, hey, it's just dinner at the Lord's Table, why kneel? Those in America (I can't comment on European practices) stand in defiance and protest, and even here, there are those who protest at Pentecost by standing when everyone else is kneeling.

It's what happens when the Mass becomes about "us" and not about the worship owed to God.

ACM said...

I lived in the Washington, DC area for 35 years and not only often visited the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception but also worked there for several years. I never thought of this gorgeous moasiac of Our Lord as the "angry Jesus." Possibly stern, though, for stern as death is love, as the writer of the Song of Songs so aptly tells it.

Alice Claire Mansfield
Consecrated Virgin
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Adoro said...

ACM (and RedCat) ~ You both seem to be irritated at my use of the term "Angry Jesus".

Why does it so offend you? You obviously must know I mean no offense.

I actually learned of this incredible and holy mosaic under that Yitle, and when I saw it, I was struck by it.

Personally, I love it as "Angry Jesus" for it reminds me that when I go to my Particular Judgment, I might well see the face of an Angry Jesus, and well He SHOULD be angry about my sin against Him and against His Body!

I used this image with the story of Esther, for Sacred Scripture describes the terrible face of the King, describes his anger at her daring to enter his presence unsummoned.

Yet in the face (literally) of his anger, Esther fell at his feet along with her handmaids, and in her weakness, the anger of the King melted away into compassion for he saw her weakness and responded to her love.

Angry Jesus may tell specifically the scriptural parable of Particular Judgment, but theology, as you both know, isn't black and white, but has layers of depth, has synthesis, and doesn't always mean what it appears to on the surface.

I'm sorry you're offended by my use of "Angry Jesus", but I pray you will give me your humble acquiescence to my use of the term according to my own contemplative understanding, that clearly differs from your own.