The holiday today has been good. In it God has provided some graces of realizing this moment in my vocation.
This little friary where I'm living now is the first place in my religious life where the Office of Readings is prayed in common. I don't think I prefer it, actually. I'm just so used to being able to take the readings at my own pace, stop and use the dictionary, etc., and then take some time between the readings and responsories to reflect a little. Nevertheless, it's a good thing and good practice. Being the friar in the house with the least Italian, I usually don't have to do one of the readings. Today, though, due to friars going out to offer Masses, there were only two of us and I ended up with the long reading from Munificentissimus Deus. Despite the many instances of incorruttibilità over which I stumbled each time, it went o.k. Sometimes I think I can feel the neural ruts being dug for Italian syntactical and grammatical logics.
Because the friars knew there would be few of us here today because of vacations and the soon-to-begin Capuchin general chapter, I was asked a while back if I would go today to offer Mass at the Discepole di Gesù Eucaristico, an institute of sisters that has their generalate here in the neighborhood. It was the first time I have offered Mass in Italian outside of a friary chapel. I did o.k., but not great. Nevertheless, the experience reminded me of my vocation. It was like, 'Oh yeah; this is what I'm meant to do in this world.'
I had put off writing the homily much longer than I usually would; my thought was that since I'm supposed to be learning more Italian each week, it would turn out better if I waited. I'm not sure it worked. It was too short, and also too short on presenting the hopefulness of the day.
It's funny about eschatology; you need some pretty advanced verb tenses to do it right. There are very delicate senses of time and eternity, of what has been, as well as the already fulfilled for which we still groan in expectation. Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is free from every burden of original sin. Today we celebrate her freedom from the most searingly obvious of the effects of that sin, the bodily corruption of our temporal death. In her we see our hope as she anticipates the resurrection for which we all have a sure hope in Christ. And yet we know all too well that even though we are free from the guilt of original sin by the grace of baptism, the effects of that sin still smolder and rot within us. All of us sinners, may God have mercy on us, know this as we face daily the anguished unmeaning of knowing how we have, with our sins, insisted on our own misery--and worse--insisted on the misery of others.
Mary's Assumption shows us that the fruits of Christ's victory are available to our humanity. The victory has been won; it is ours to surrender to it if we can only find the willingness. Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great. But she still fascinates, and so often we still hook our attention to her and drag each other down to the hell into which she eternally falls. But our hope in the confusion of our woundedness is that God wills our salvation. Salvation isn't a commodity held out by some merchant or landlord of a deity for those who might care to buy it. It is the very self-giving of God as it is experienced by a cured but still healing creature. In Mary, through whom this self-giving of God comes to be given to the world, we are shown today the destiny that God is just dying--literally--to give us.