Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Craving Holy Days and the Need for Simplicity

Or maybe I should say holidays. You know that's the origin of the word, right? Holy days= holidays :). Lately, I have been thinking so much about the Good Friday service I attended earlier this year at my parish. My parish, as humble as it is, seriously did the most powerful Good Friday service I'd ever been to... ever. The music was just stunning and so moving. They had beautiful acapella singing, a very small orchestra playing, and also some traditional Mexican music as it was a combined English/Spanish service. I almost lost it and, when not pregnant, I'm really not that emotional. The meaning of that day is already so emotional, with our hearts and minds focusing on the Great Sacrifice, but adding in music of that caliber when I'm used to a cantor, a singer, and a piano/organ just blew me away. So I keep thinking about it and getting excited about it, only to realize it's allll the way til the end of next March before I get to experience that again! Here is to hoping that Baby Cash will just snuggle down in a wrap or sling and let me enjoy ;). So then I started thinking about Christmas mass, holy days of obligation, Lenten masses, special masses said for Thanksgiving.... all of those 'out of the ordinary' Masses. It's so easy to get enamored by them! There is often times incense which, in our parish, we don't have weekly. Sometimes, like in Lent, things are taken away and the power of missing them (certain images or sounds) makes me realize how much we rely on our senses and how God stimulates every single sense during Mass. Sometimes the music is stepped up a notch or people are dressed in their best which just brings a different feel. Every now and again, the altar is decked out in flowers, more than the one or two arrangements normally there. Sometimes, if you sit close enough, you can smell the fresh cut flowers from the pew.

All these memories from past holidays and holy days make me nostalgic for them and I look forward to them every year. But then I think about how I can experience God in the flesh every single day of the week. And there may not be bells and whistles, no incense, very little music, but that gift, the gift we are given in daily Mass may be simpler for a reason. And sure, a reason could be less staffing, less volunteers, and less people attending. But I also think one reason is that we can get so tied up in 'feeling' that we may lose that feeling and begin to pull away. But when we are connected on a Eucharistic level, without any of those extras, we are connected to the root, the source and summit of our faith and, with or without it evoking a certain feeling, we know we why are there. Daily mass is something new for Steven and me. We only just started attending within the last year. We aim to go once a week depending on our work schedules. It's just not something I ever thought about or considered before and, frankly, it's just easier not to go. There's certainly no requirement for it. But what I've found that it's done in my life is to help me make a deeper connection to the Eucharist that transcends warm fuzzies and cravings for certain sensory aspects. And that's not to say that those things aren't important; they definitely are important in our human experience or God certainly wouldn't have given us such strong senses and especially not ones that can take you back years in only a second (like smelling a certain kind of cookie your mom made when you were little).

But I think equally as important is the realization that, without that, God is still in the flesh in the Eucharist and it is just as amazing and powerful when there is no music, few people, as when we are experiencing it on the high of a holy day or special Mass. I've been really glad for the gift of daily Mass over the past year to help me realize this. And you know what I think pulled me to daily Mass? The simplicity of adoration. Because with as sharp as our senses our and as much as we love sensory experiences, I do believe sometimes our senses crave silence and simplicity. We are bombarded daily with smart phones, television, work and social conversations, advertisements, and the radio blaring. Adoration is rest for my soul while in the powerful, simplistic presence of my Lord. And I can find that same type of simplicity in daily Mass. Sometimes I am blown away by how providential God is that, in his all knowing wisdom, he provides all of these experiences for us that we don't even know we are needing or craving.

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