May 27, 2008

Interpretation

A lot depends on what we say to ourselves about what we see.

I've been in a bit of a spiritual funk lately: praying distractedly, wasting time, not paying attention to grace, etc. Anyone who knows the cycles of the spiritual life knows what I'm talking about. In light of that you can imagine how I was taken aback when this happened at Mass this morning:

After the consecration my chalice caught my eye. I noticed that the inside was very dirty, as if the Sunday sacristan had neither purified nor washed it after Mass (I didn't use it yesterday). Of course I felt bad for using a dirty chalice for Mass. I was also also annoyed at the sacristan, of course.

Then a little later, when I went to communicate the server with the Precious Blood, my chalice looked clean. Examining it myself after Holy Communion but before I purified it, I saw nothing of the dirtiness that I had noticed during the post-consecratory epiclesis.

So what's up? How do I interpret my experience? Do I confess to having a vision by which I am warned that it is the sin of sacrilege to offer Mass when my life of prayer and devotion is otherwise neglected? Or do I just say, "Maybe it was the lighting." I don't know.

It's the sort of thing that makes me realize once again that how we interpret our experience makes all the difference for the life of spiritual discernment and thoughtful discretion.

6 comments:

Tausign said...

A sin of sacrilege for being distracted in prayer life? I don't know but this immediately makes me recall Brother Leo's vision of the Friars falling off the the direct ladder to Jesus. Like all of us we sometimes need assistance. I offer this for solace: I Need Another Ladder

ben in denver said...

I'm sure that the Lord does not mind using "the lighting" to give you His message.

Just because there is a mundane explaination does not mean that He wasn't speaking to you. He is always speaking to us. Most of the time I'm not a very good listener.

Peace and Good to you Fr. Charles!

Brother Charles said...

Thanks, Tausign! It's good to be reminded of that particular story today!

Brother Charles said...

And thanks, as always, Ben, for your encouragement and good example!

Don said...

I have been feeling more than a bit off lately. I am discouraged and not too hopeful. I'm sure that has affected me and much of what I read and write. I like this quote, "We see people and things not as they are, but as we are." It is attributed to the Talmud and also Anthony de Mello.Take your pick, but it's right on target for me and perhaps for you too.

Pia said...

Something I've never understood: I know the chalice must be "cleaned" of the residual wine/water (I suppose if for no other reason than hygiene), but why is it called "purification"? I mean, it's the Lord! What could be more pure?
Maybe that's what he wanted to tell you: don't be fooled by the appearance (and don't be too quick to express annoyance with the sacristan). It really was/is Him. Maybe it was a Corpus Cristi gift?