When a Stranger Offends the Liturgical Aesthetic

“The service was over, but the ritual was not. Jim had unexpectedly entered the ritual space and interrupted the silence with his signs and voice. His soiled clothing was adding unwanted shades of grey to the color palate that was otherwise dominated by the hues of golden candlesticks, red marble pillars, velvety green banners, and warm brown pews. Plus, he was getting the ritual completely wrong. Unlike others in the space, he did not direct his petition to God. Instead, he was begging from the people around him.”

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The Fifty-first Anniversary of the Closing of Vatican II

Sometimes I think of the mystery of the Incarnation—central to Advent and Christmas—as God deciding to enroll in the “Human Being 101” course. Not because God didn’t grasp what it was like to be fully human, but because WE didn’t grasp that God fully knew our human experience. So, in the person of Jesus, God lived among us and knew our joys and hopes, our griefs and anxieties first-hand. And we still unfold and celebrate that mystery in our own day-by-day living as members of Christ’s Body.

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