Monday, June 11, 2018

Ein Fester Burg!

Today in my chapel, I had the joy and the privilege of confirming two adults according to the traditional order for the sacrament. It was a first for me, but what struck me in particular was the pastoral application the priest who was master of ceremonies gave to the instruction which stands at the very end of the liturgy, after the final blessing. It says in the pontifical that the bishop should be seated facing those just confirmed with his miter on and exhort their sponsors and them to make the Creed, the Our Father and the Hail Mary an integral part of their prayer life. Father explained to me that with children being confirmed normally the group then prays these prayers together. And so today, my adults, with devotion recited the prescribed prayers.

It made me think of the ancient rites for the catechumenate and thus praying after Confirmation found a very appropriate application in this context. This is what Christian Initiation is about. It served to deepen my strongly held conviction concerning the role of classic memorized prayers as nourishment for our life of faith. The Creed, the Our Father and the Hail Mary, when thus prayed, have a powerful eloquence. They are anchors; they interpret with a clarity and depth which no moment of silence or spontaneous invocation can provide.

Only haughty and stupid people ridicule sound traditional piety and formalized expression. Formality in the best sense of the term frees us to perceive; it is anything but empty routine. When meditated upon, the Creed, the Our Father and the Hail Mary can open up worlds for us and grant us shared space with the Lord in His boundless glory.

Taking these three prayers seriously and making them our entree into the real world, the only world which counts, that world as it is, shot through with the serenity of God's boundless love for each of us in Christ, that world for us as it should be. 

One size fits all? I guess? At least in the sense that getting yourself grounded in being or centered is a matter of focusing and something we cannot and do not achieve with deep breathing or some other "centering" exercise. We do it by professing and with tried and true formulations: You alone are the Holy One, You alone are Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the Glory of God the Father. Amen.


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