It’s an old joke, born of true observation, that Catholics seem to burst out of church as soon as Mass is over. Why are we so impatient? asks the poetic and mystical Jacob of Serugh, a sixth-century Christian writer from the East. The unspeakably great privilege is not to be let out of Mass, but to be let in.
Come to prayer, and bring your whole self with you. Do not let your mind remain in the market with your business. If you are here, let your inner man be here as well, within the doors of the crowned bride.
Why has your thought gone out, chasing after your business, so that when you are here, you are not here, but there? Your mind is wandering outside in the markets with your accounts and your profits. Bring it back, so that it may come in and ask for its life. Do not stand half in and half out, or your prayer may get lost between the two parts. Stand at prayer united and complete, a true human, and then you can receive whatever you ask from God.
Why are you impatient to get away, when he has not given it to you yet? Stay long, and knock at the Physician’s door. Beg him, and sprinkle his doorstep with the tears of repentance. Keep pleading with him, and even if he does not give it to you for love, he will not be able to deny it to your constant urging. Be insistent at the Physician’s door, and do not give up. If you are not insistent he will not bind your wounds. Why are you standing still? Your urging knows how to gain mercy from him, and unless he gives you what you ask, your urging will not allow him to leave. Be insistent, penitent, and whatever you ask, you will receive it from the Giver of all good things.
Why are you impatient to go out about your business? Why do you think the hours you spend in church are wasted? Why do you not see the service as a banquet? Why do you work hard at your own work, but turn lazy here, cold and weak in your prayers? –Jacob of Serugh, Homily on the Reception of the Holy MysteriesIN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Do I bring my whole self to the Mass? Or am I constantly distracted and worried by outside affairs?
Father, because you love us all, you invite us to the banquet of the Mass. Fill me with a joy befitting the occasion as I receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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