Going to Mass this morning put me in memory of those early days of my sojourn into Catholicism when I first started attending daily Mass. Very early on in my process of conversion, after I had experienced Christ's call and tremulously responded, I was complaining to the Lord one day abut how scared I was and how hard this would be for me. The Lord responded by telling me "Be going to Mass." I knew that He meant daily Mass, and on an on-going basis. This felt like tough love to me, and like He was completely not indulging me in my nervous complaint. In hindsight I can see the Lord was holding out a precious gift to me, one I'm sure I'll never value highly enough this side of heaven.
But one thing that always struck me when I was new to daily Mass going was how miraculous the whole thing was. And not just in the "technical" sense in which the miracle of transubstantiation takes place so that Jesus is really present with us in the Eucharist (as if that isn't super-abundantly more than enough right there!). But personally, for me, the Mass often felt like an intimate communication, a lesson, a teaching, advice, even, for me in the particular need I had at that particular time, on that particular day. It felt like the Lord was personally weaving together, stitching up, the loose and flailing bits of my life, my thoughts, my prayers, and making something reasonable from them. It was in this way that I fell in love with the liturgy and absolutely could not wait for Mass each day. It helped that I was learning so much at the time. Everything seemed new. And I was so thankful for Fr. John who offered the Mass I attended most of the time. He was one who had a cadence to his prayer that was absolutely predictable and yet never sounded like he was "just saying" prayers. And I loved him so much to boot. His presence subtly taught me so many things, but I think most important among these was that these profound experiences with Christ happened for me within the context of the church community. I loved Christ, I loved Fr. John, and those loves washed over and gathered up all the rest of the community gathered there. It reminds me of CL parties at my friend Suzanne's house. I'd just love anyone who came in those doors, because they were part of who gathered. At the time, I struggled with this at Sunday Mass because it felt so anonymous, and truth be told I struggled at daily Mass as well. But it was in the daily Mass context that I apprenticed in this love.
Today at my parish I was put in memory of all these things. My head was the typical jumble of half-awake thoughts and concerns as I entered Mass (a few seconds late), but from the opening prayer, I heard words designed to perfectly heal my soul. To do that stitching. The Scriptures spoke their living word to me. The love I have known in that community beamed its memories and reality brightly into my soul. And Jesus, my Lord, came again, just for me. Oh Lord, I am not worthy, but only speak the word and I shall be healed! This is good, rich soil, and the Lord gives me all I need -- for me, and for those He gives me.