The Table and the Cross

The Table and the Cross September 19, 2017


We went to a vigil liturgy at a Latin church.

We are still currently in Steubenville; our move has been delayed by a few months once again. But we got a ride to a Vigil Mass in the Ordinary Form, at a church across the river, the next diocese over. It wasn’t a beautiful church or an ugly church, just an unremarkable modern building with an altar at the front. It wasn’t, aesthetically, a beautiful or an ugly Mass. The Holy Sacrifice is beauty beyond all telling, but the physical aesthetics at this particular church were simply unremarkable. The music wasn’t bad. The homily wasn’t bad. The mandatory announcements before the dismissal were irritating but not obnoxiously long. Spiritually speaking it was everything, Eternity, the  consummation of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Aesthetically, it wasn’t anything you’d notice.

Rosie wasn’t used to the Latin Rite. She held the missal in her hands and whispered questions as she fidgeted. Rose is not a child who likes to keep still. She is especially anxious and kinetic in crowded, noisy places like church, and attempts to keep her still backfire spectacularly. Someone at our beloved little Eastern church recently took me aside and informed me that the congregation was “shocked” by her, and for all I know they were telling the truth, so we keep her in the back and as quiet as we can. It makes me a little afraid to go to that liturgy at all, knowing that everyone is shocked at my daughter.

In this church, the available seats were toward the front. This new congregation smiled as Rose walked by in her corduroy dress pants and pink and black Avengers shirt.

“This is the reading of the Gospel,” whispered my husband, pointing to his place in the book as we all stood. “G-o-s-p-e-l.”

Rose cannot read yet, but she knows her letters. She leafed through the book until she found another passage marked “G-o-s-p-e-l” for a different day, and stared reverently at it while the priest read aloud in a voice that was neither beautiful nor ugly.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

I haven’t spoken with my brothers in years, by their choice as much as anyone else’s. Perhaps they’ve forgiven me for being the family scapegoat. My mother informed them from the time they were small that I was the cause of every evil including her struggles with fibromyalgia. I don’t blame them for not being able to see through that.

I always dread those insipid comparisons between the Eucharist and a big dinner with your family. My family ate dinner together every night growing up. My mother said it was good for the family. It wasn’t good for me. She used to mock every bite that went into my mouth and threaten to have my stomach stapled, while my brothers joked that I was ugly and ought to be thrown out of the house.

Lately, anything to do with Catholics has felt like those old family dinners.

"Maybe sooner or later there will be one too many. But probably not."

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