Sunday, July 27, 2014

Texting the Presence of Christ

Recently I received a Facebook message from a young woman who is a former parishioner of mine.  It was just a brief message telling me that her young son (I think he's 4?) came up to her that day at Noon and said, "Mom, it's time for the Angelus."  She wrote that to me because several years ago, we made it so the church bells would ring the Angelus each day at Noon and at Six.  She knew that that brief story would make my day.  And, so it did.

The ringing of the Angelus provides a moment to pause during the day and remember that God has drawn near to us.  Marketplaces were swarming with buyers and sellers, political powers were jockeying for position, battles were being waged, and people were living the everyday lives.  In the midst of every day life, imperceptible to the world around, in the quiet of the Virgin's womb, God drew irrevocably close to us.  The Word became Flesh and made His dwelling among us.

Unlike the young boy and his mother who messaged me, most of us do not hear the Angelus bells ringing in the midst of our day.  The sounds of bells do not travel over highways nor do they penetrate the walls of our skyscrapers.  Gone are the days when the silence of the landscape would welcome the toll of the bell.  In some way, however, the present situation is almost more faithful to the Mystery of the Incarnation.  At the dawn of the New Creation, only the Blessed Virgin heard and received the Word.  While the whole world went about its usual business, something new happened.  We see, however, the power of this Word!  It began with only one woman hearing and accepting this Word, and from this the New Creation begins!

In my life, the announcement of God's nearness often comes not through the ringing of bells, but through the sound of an alert on my smartphone.  In the midst of all of the busyness of life, a message appears.  It might be from a married friend whose marriage is in distress.  It might be from a young person just saying, "Hey Padre."  Sometimes, the message is a question about a girlfriend (theirs, not mine!), a random question about some theological matter, a request for prayers (or a promise of prayers), an invitation to grab a bite to eat, or--regularly enough--some well played smart alec comment.

These brief communications from my brothers and sisters in Christ--men and women, young and old--whom I have encountered along the path of my priestly life are my Angelus bells.  Their brief messages that interrupt my day are an announcement that the Word became Flesh and dwells among us.  These brief messages serve to remind me of God's nearness.  In and through the communion of the Church we experience the presence of Christ.  We all need to be reminded of God's love made present in Christ.  Angelus bells remind us of His Presence.  Christian friendship assures us of His Presence.

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