When I hit my knees tonight, I may have to thank God that I didn’t have the kind of Corpus Christi Sunday that Joanne McPortland had:
No procession, no Tantum ergo, no Adoro te devote, no Panis angelicus—that was a given. But I expected at least a couple of reminders of the mystery we were celebrating, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. And when what I got instead was a mishmash of the same old DavidMartyMichael HaasHaugenJoncas 100%-Jesus-free songs about us—we gather, we break bread, we share wine, we used to be afraid but now we aren’t, we are the world, aren’t we just the best?—I got cranky. Really cranky.
I started noticing all the things that were getting between me and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Father’s dramatic liturgical intonation, complete with ad libs intended to remind us how terrific we are. His provincial’s homily, which gave short shrift to the readings and praised the jubilarian with the fulsomeness of an emcee introducing a dinner speaker. The young teen altar server who’d obviously arrived too late to find an ankle-length robe that fit and so moved through the liturgy in what looked like a white mini-shroud over short shorts and a pair of neon turquoise hightop sneakers. The other teen girls who didn’t have the benefit of mini-shrouds to cover their short short shorts and camisole tops with bra straps protruding. Worst of all, the woman among Father’s visiting family who had appointed herself court photographer, and documented every moment of the liturgy by snapping and flashing a camera with a foot-long zoom lens.
I know exactly how this sounds, and I hate myself for it. But I was thisclose to walking out, stopping by the house for the black lace mantilla I didn’t need in Rome, and seeing whether I could sneak past the radar to get into the EF Latin Mass north of town. That’s how bad I’m getting.
I started to come to my senses just before Communion, recognizing that it was my own orneriness, not anybody else’s turquoise hightops, that was keeping me from the Body of Christ. Responding to the invitation to Communion, I muttered, “. . . speak lots of words, Lord, because my soul needs powerful healing.”
Well. She asked, and God answered. Big time. Check out what happened next. It’s a lovely object lesson.