I’m talking about part of the Mass, specifically the words we pray before reception of the Eucharist.
Previously - before this “new translation of the old Latin” - we said the following:
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
We now pray:
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
Ask any practicing, Mass-attending Catholic how this went over the first few weeks after the implementation of the new translation here in the US. At my parish here in NY, St. Daniel, there were some interesting variations, to say the least. I’ll admit to even wanting to laugh at the imagery/wordplay inherent in the use of the word ‘roof’.
Oddly enough, this was one of the first “new translation” prayers that was picked up easily by the congregation (again, using my parish as the example). Perhaps it was just tricky enough, with the changed terminology, to encourage participants to read the pew cards instead of stumble-mumbling through it. I’m not sure the reason; all I know is that we’re back in unison again just a few short months after the big switch.
Today, it hit me, in a special way, why I love the new translation (of the old.)
1.) The parallel to the scripture is all the more apparent.
Matthew 8: 5-8, RSV (for brevity; I recommend verses 5-13 for the whole ‘picture’, but I don’t want to take up too much space. )
(5) As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him (6) and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” (7) And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” (8) But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
2.) When I think ‘receive’, I tend to think ‘passive’. There is an action - the giving - and the counteraction is to receive the gift. But the Eucharist is much more than just a gift to be received. Yes, it is that, but it is more.
My thoughts turned this way: when I receive a gift, I take it, and I do something with it. Depending on the manner of the gift, I may place it on a shelf, hang it on a wall, set it on a table to be looked at later, shelve it among the many items on my bookshelf, wear it, eat it, or spend it.
When I receive the Eucharist, I answer an invitation, I sign the RSVP card to attend the party and the reception, and I promise to do my best to be worthy of such an invitation. I state with the entirety of my soul that though today I am not worthy, I will accept, internalize, and cooperate with grace. I won’t use my unworthiness as an excuse; rather, I sign an agreement to be greater than what the world sets as expectations.
That’s not just receiving a gift. That’s more.
If someone knocks on your door - friend or stranger - and you let them in your house, they will stay until one of two things happens: they need to leave and go elsewhere, or you ask them to leave.
If there’s one thing I know, and just one thing, it is that Christ doesn’t abandon us. Ever. Even when the world eclipses us and it would appear there isn’t a single beam of light to bring us out of darkness, He is there. We need but turn our heads to see the light. So knowing this, I know that accepting the invitation of the Eucharist by offering our own invitation to Christ to enter under our roof, is to invite a guest into our very soul. And not just any guest - the kind that doesn’t leave until we kick him out. And let’s face it, even then, he will not abandon us. A God of love does not abandon his children.
And then I realized just how great the Father’s love is for his children. We’re not lucky, but we are blessed - continually, unfailingly, blessed - with an absolute gift.
Fact: my mom is my hero. So is my grandmother. And my other grandmother. Although completely different people, they all made the same essential choice — life. Today though, it’s all about Mama. You can call her Mama, she won’t mind.
The day I left for Austria for four months. We cried after the picture.
Mama chose to get married at the ripe-old age of 20.
She chose to work starting at the age of 18, as a secretary and then in the Baltimore offices of T Rowe Price.
She chose to give up smoking - and drinking for that matter - when her and my dad started a family.
She chose to give birth to a son.
And then chose to have another child, son #2.
And then chose to have another child, son #3.
All in the span of 1976-1980.
She chose to stay at home and raise three small boys in the middle of a big city.
She chose to make dinner every night for a growing family. To stitch together overalls for her three growing boys. To hold together a family.
She chose to have another child, daughter #1.
She chose to ask the will of God regarding a move out of the city.
She chose to pick up, along with my father, and four kids ages 3-10, and move to Ohio, a state they had never been to before.
She chose to raise four growing kids in a duplex while my father worked as a schoolteacher.
She chose to make ends meet when my dad was unemployed.
She chose to have a fifth child, turned out to be me. ;)
She chose to give up the working world to be a stay at home mom to five kids.
She chose to take them to church, as a family, every single Sunday.
But you know what?
My mom wouldn’t tell you she chose any of this. She’ll tell you she wanted to get married, not that it was a choice or “get married or not” - it was the *only* choice. She’ll tell you she *wanted* children - not that it was a choice or whether to have them or not, but that there couldn’t possibly -be- another choice. She’ll tell you that everything of this life has been what she wanted, and she’d have it no other way.
How do I know that? ‘Cause she’s told me so, in no uncertain terms.
My mom is a shining example to me of what I can be if it so happens, and if I truly learn the meaning of selfless. She has given up so much, and yet, she doesn’t even regard it as a sacrifice. It’s simply the way it was meant to be. Perhaps above all, she’s taught me that if you truly seek to follow the will of God, and you don’t let your selfish will get in the way, you won’t have regrets and you won’t think “maybe I should have chosen differently”. You’ll know it was the path you were meant to follow. And what could be better than that?
I love you Mom. Yesterday, today, forever. You rock.
They’ve been married 40 years. Going for 41!
Isn’t she just straight-up adorable? Gah, I wish I had that red hair.
“you’d bring a lot of class to the office of first lady.”
“i could see you living in DC.”
“this book I was reading wanted me to join the church of scientology so my health would improve. no thanks, I’ll stick to the Eucharist.”
“well, then we go from there.”
“liz says they need a coffee shop in canandaigua. you could do that. be a food scientist with a head for business.”
“you don’t have to be me.”
“i love you.”
thanks, mom, for being beyond awesome.
things I said today:
Search for truth. Know the truth. Speak the truth.
Today, I remembered how thankful I am for family. We may all be a little…dramatic (it’s true), and… argumentative (also true), but…we’re also family. And that’s a bond bigger than any I’ve seen this far in life.
My brother Mark, sister Liz, and I (60% of the kids in the family) went to a 5K Turkey Trot this morning in Wheeling. My first race -ever-, Liz’s third, and Mark’s way-more-than-third (he’s completed 2 marathons). We each set a new personal record, went beyond our own expectations, and then celebrated like none other at the end. (For the record, Mark finished in 24:30, I in 29:07, and Liz in 30:30.) The crazy “hell YES Team E” feeling at the end just reminded me how much I love and need this family. Because we can be crazy…together. Shamrock On!
And then the following happened later today. I was playing blocks with my nephew, who is almost three.
“Aunt Rie, you have a boo-boo on your elbow!”
“I do?” *glances down, notices the psoriasis that has been there for seven+ years* “Oh, you’re right, I do.”
“But why? Where did it come from?”
“Well, J, they don’t really know…”
“I’ll kiss it and make it all better.” … “Aunt Rie, that tickles!”
It took everything in me to not cry. That kid rocks my world.
I am incredibly thankful, and blessed. May you notice the same in the occurrences of your own life.