The Mass is like a huge electromagnet that gets switched on at the beginning of the offertory. Before that point, you should have gone through your pockets for your cell phone, spare change, and any spare paper clips, and maybe your belt if it’s got a metal buckle. Then you throw it all up in the air and it goes flying towards the altar — ZHUMPF, better duck, with all that stuff flying past, or you are going to get clocked in the back of the head with somebody’s adultery or petty rancor — and becomes charged with the magnetism of the mystical body of Christ: all those bits of metal fused into one, one electro-/pneumomagnetic field flowing through all of it.

It’s the Fifth Force, the invisible field of Sanctifying Grace. Kapow!

Except instead of bits of metal you can throw these things into the air:

  • Your sins, the ones you remember
  • Your sins, the ones you don’t remember
  • Your sorrow for the sins you remember
  • Your agitation at not being very sorry for the sins you remember
  • Your frustration at God’s silence
  • Your unease at your frustration at God’s silence
  • Your awareness that you are not very good at any of this
  • Your confusion as to whether being any good at any of this is the point
  • Your being at an utter loss as to what the point is, if not that
  • …And, finally, your willful trust, however faint, that God does in fact love you and is in fact taking care of you.
  • Oh, to have a nice neat offering wrapped up for the altar, fragrant with faith and full of good works and happy feelings! Not these stinking bundles from the foul rag & bone shop of the heart.

    But the lovely thing about the offertory and the consecration is that the stinkingest bundles are somehow transformed, mirabile dictu, into the very body of Christ: killed with him, buried with him, burst open like seeds and risen again on Easter morning: every stinking seed yielding its secret sweetness to the open air.

    For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

    Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus, and give us the strength to endure till Easter.

14 thoughts on “Fifth Force

  1. Nicole

    I just fell in love with every word of this piece. You are going into Holy Week on FIRE, my friend. Amen and Amen.

  2. Peter

    Steve, you have a gift for saying what I hadn’t realized I was thinking and feeling. You’re a wonderful companion on our common road. Thanks.

  3. anonymous fan

    Yes, this expresses what I’ve experienced! I remember learning once that Christ is our priest, sacrifice, and altar. This means he will take care of simply _everything_ for us. All that’s required is our will to offer whatever we have. And even the things that seem to be obstacles, he can transform into means of grace.

    1. Steve Gershom

      Yes, anonymous (but thanks for including your email address as a clue), that’s exactly what I keep having to learn and relearn. How is it that we (or anyway I) seem always to forget the most important things the fastest?

  4. Gracee

    “And, finally, your willful trust, however faint, that God does in fact love you and is in fact taking care of you.” Been a following admirer of your blog for quite awhile now and I felt very compelled to say, Thank you Steve. Sometimes I get into those moments of beating myself up for not having an unwavering faith and confidence in God as my Provider and Lover when I know very well that He is. It is during those long (often distressing) periods of silence that it becomes difficult to patiently await His response. I know now that it’s the Father’s way of carefully pruning away the things in my heart that need to be surrendered and let go. Oh what a painful process, but a process that inevitably draws me closer to Him, bit by glorious bit.

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