Thursday, December 15, 2011
The Bell that Awakens Us to Christ's Presence
Every day at Noon, the bells of our parish church ring the Angelus. Sometimes, because it becomes like familiar background music, I don't really hear it. But, even if I am in mid-sentence, somebody on the staff will start making the Sign of the Cross. And before long, the whole staff is gathered for a few minutes as we make our way through that beautiful prayer that commemorates the Angel Gabriel's annunciation to Mary and Mary's obedient, "Yes."
In this moment, our awareness that "the Word was made flesh and dwells among among us" becomes stengthened. Those bells remind us that what happened in the virginal womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary changed the whole world. Those bells draw each of us from our offices--whether we are working on the parish bulletin, the parish finances, youth ministry, music, homily preparation etc--and we remember that everything we do is because of Christ.
In this brief moment of refuge during the day, I am also mindful of all of my friends who are pausing at this precise moment in acknowledgement of the Incarnation. This moment of communion extends not just to those gathered in the rectory. I am mindful of the seminarians who are getting ready to eat lunch at the seminary and who are praying with us. I pray with the parishioners who are at their desks at work and who are joining in this prayer. I am united with the doctor at Mass General Hospital who is praying there. I am united to those with whom I have prayed this prayer in the past. I am united to my parishioners who are busy doing a thousand things who do not have the luxury to pause at this moment. In this oasis in the middle of the day's heat, I also remember and am united to those who have asked for my prayers and for those who are struggling and who feel alone in their suffering, sin, and darkness.
Pausing in the middle of the day to acknowledge this tremendous mystery is awesome. It is as if we are joining the entire creation and the entire Church from all time. The universe stops. Planets stop their revolutions, angels hold their breath, and mortals await the answer upon which their eternity depends. Everyone and everything awaits the Virgin's reply. And having heard once again her "Yes" and being confirmed that Christ dwells among us, we can live every moment of life with a newness that otherwise is impossible.