I don’t watch football.
I don’t care if anyone else watches football. I don’t imagine that I’m a better person than somebody who watches football. I just don’t personally care for it.
So, I wasn’t watching the Super Bowl this weekend.
I was “Trying to get some writing done,” which means absentmindedly scrolling around on Facebook hoping one of my friends said something witty enough to inspire a blog post. I’ve been a bit sick and foggy headed, so the writing hasn’t come so easily. This is evidenced by the fact that it’s Thursday and I’m only just now getting to telling everyone how I spent my Super Bowl Sunday. I’m sure you were on the edge of your seat to know.
Anyway, I was scrolling around Facebook trying to make writing happen. I saw that a friend had posted a “live Eucharistic Adoration,” so of course I clicked on it.
What a brilliant idea. Someone had turned on their phone camera in Eucharistic Adoration, focused on the Monstrance. A live feed of Adoration. Skyping with the Lord.
I know, I know, I could just pray to Him without the use of a phone, but it’s nice to see Him as well. The awesome Presence, the Only-Begotten Word, the One who trampled death by death, truly present, disguised as a white disc to be consumed by His lovers that He might consume them and be one with them… and here he was, broadcast on the internet. There was a little counter at the side of the screen, showing how many people were in virtual adoration at that moment. It made me smile that I was in Adoration with over a hundred other people; that we were all silently gazing upon the same God. I know, that’s the state of things anyway whenever we pray, but it was fun to see it illustrated like that.
I gazed at the Lord for a few moments. I shuddered in awe. I did a reverence. Then I commented “Neat!” and I shared it.
I worked on an online jigsaw puzzle for a few minutes.
Then I went back to the live video to look at Jesus some more.
And that was when I saw the fine print written below the video. “Please join us LIVE for a Rosary in reparation for Lady Gaga’s Superbowl performance, that no souls will be led astray!”
I deleted the link, feeling a little dirty. I know my friend didn’t mean any harm when she posted it; she was just as fascinated by the live video feed as I was. She loves the Rosary, and here she had a hundred people to pray with. But I felt like I was taking part in something sacrilegious. I was going back to the idols of my youth on the Planet Charismatic, using Jesus to display how much better I was than sinful heathens who watched secular rock concerts.
I posted “What did Lady Gaga do that was so horrible?”
My friends were confused; they said she’d given a fun performance, they didn’t know she was so talented.
I explained about the Live reparation Rosary.
Nobody had a concrete answer for what the problem was. Some mentioned that her clothes weren’t terribly modest. Others said that they thought they’d heard a conspiracy theory that she was supposed to perform a Satanic ritual complete with goats, but she ended up not doing it. Others said that it was because she’d promised the Super Bowl performance would celebrate “inclusiveness and diversity,” which of course might be code for “gay people.”
I got depressed.
Why do we so often fall into the trap of praying “at” people? Not pray for them, in genuine love, but at them? Prayer as signaling; prayer as waving my virtue in front of other people and getting a gossipy dig in at a scapegoat. Join me in reparation, in case this sinful hussy celebrity does something wrong tonight. Let me give you a “prayer request” that’s really a chance for me to tell a story about how much better my neighbor. Join me in considering how likely it is that helpless souls, so much weaker than me, will be lost. I’ve been guilty of such idolatry myself, often, and worse. Lord, have mercy.
And there is Jesus, silent and helpless in the monstrance as He was during His passion, receiving whatever we give Him without complaint, not shielding His face from us but returning a constant gaze of love. Whether our prayer is good or evil, He remains, silent, waiting. Waiting to pour out His love, if only we will be emptied.
It was just today that I noticed the connection between the Reparation Rosary Sunday night and the gospel we heard at the Byzantine Catholic Church earlier that day. Father read the Gospel of the Publican and the Pharisee– the publican stood in the back of the temple, silently begging mercy for his own sins, while the Pharisee stood at the front proclaiming his own virtue. “I thank you, Lord, that I am not like this tax collector.”
In our own day, maybe the Pharisee would have a Rosary and a cell phone in hand.
God remained silent, pouring out His love for both, but only the publican emptied himself, so only the publican went away justified.
I suppose real reparation must always begin with personal conversion– empty yourself, repent, beat your breast and say “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on all sinners of whom I am the first.” And having established that you are the first of sinners, pray also for these others whose sins happen to be more public. But never imagine that their sins are worse. When the Lord returns, no longer helpless but robed in power, to judge the Living and the Dead, all things hidden will be proclaimed. God help us all, then. No one will be able to brag that they aren’t like the publican on that day.
It’s not something I’m any good at, of course, but I think that’s how reparation begins.
(image via Pixabay)