Saturday, 14 November 2009
We’re trying to get up to Oxford for as much of the 40 Hours at the Oratory as possible. Last night, the opening Mass took place. The sermon was sombre, and so was the Gospel. Both highlighted the contrast between Our Eucharistic Lord in the silence, humility and nakedness of His death (and in the silence, humility and nakedness of His presence in the Eucharist) to the finery lavished upon the sanctuary for the occasion.
It has been so many years since Exposition left me with a warm and cosy glow and left me feeling good. Back then, going to Exposition was a sort of affirmation of how great it was to be a Catholic. I’m sure I felt a sense of superiority and smugness amongst the beauty and the candles.
Having spent many years in the wilderness of Clifton, I have craved the 40 Hours devotion. Now I have access to it again, I find not the consolation I remember from my days in the North when every parish would put it on and it was so much part of the liturgical landscape.
The truth is that Our Eucharistic Lord is silent and humble. At the Oratory, I’m afraid nearly invisible too, I can only assume the nuns are using unbleached flour when they make the altar breads but to my eyes the monstrance could have been empty. He does not speak to us from the monstrance, just like He makes no audible comment about the atrocities taking place all over the world and the countless sufferings of the poorest amongst us. We want God to speak out and condemn the vile acts committed against innocent souls all over the world, we want God to stop the sufferings of those daily faced with famine, flood and disease. We want Our Lord to love us by placing a cosy fleece blanket over us and hushing up the world.
However as adult Christians the reality is different, the love of God shows itself in the crosses to be taken up, the gaping holes in our hearts to be acknowledged, the inadequacies in our witness to the Gospels to be rectified. Our prayers never seem good enough and essentially they are not. We find it hard to pray because comfort can be missing from those prayers and we feel the absence of comfort means are prayers are worthless.
At times like these it is right to drag your body to its knees and pray before the Blessed Sacrament in pain and discomfort. Show Our Lord the chaos that surrounds your being and remember that he cannot remove this veil from us too swiftly as we are not yet ready to reveal our very nakedness before Him when it is removed.