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.