"New Translation Thursday" greetings. A winter storm warning has been issued for Chicago beginning later this afternoon and through the evening. "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"
This morning I happened to take a look at today's Prayer after Communion in the Missal:
Grant divine protection, O Lord,
to those you renew with this heavenly gift,
that to those who delight in your mysteries
you may give the joy of true peace.
Through Christ our Lord.
When I read the first line, I thought about the families of those little children killed in Connecticut last week and how the words "divine protection" would sound to them. This morning I also read snippets from an interview granted by the pastor at Saint Rose parish in Newtown, CT, where many of the funerals for these kids are taking place. This is part of what he said: "Where else but the church could we bring this unspeakable act? Where else but the altar could we find some resolution? People bring their wounded and shattered selves here for healing, mending and transcendence."
This pastor, Monsignor Robert Weiss, is a wise and pastoral priest for his people and, by extension, for all of us. Too often we (and I include yours truly here) forget to bring our "wounded and shattered selves" to the altar. I believe deep in my heart that God wants to work a miracle of transformation each and every time we "proclaim the death of the Lord;" each and every time we celebrate the Eucharist. And, even in the midst of the kind of unspeakable tragedy that occurred in Newtown last week, God is still there, reaching out to help us find "healing" and "mending."
I pray that these families will some day and some how find "the joy of true peace" of which today's Prayer after Communion speaks. I remember well the time when my youngest sister died. I honestly felt that I would never get over it. In her last years, I remember well what Advent was like for me. When I sang "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," I asked God to truly come and take her; to relieve her of her suffering. And if that meant Christ's coming in glory at the end of time, so be it. My prayer was fervent: "Come, Lord Jesus. And please come now!" Advent has always been a bit difficult for me since her death, as I recall those days when I longed for Christ's second coming that would inaugurate a new era of peace and healing and comfort for this weary world and for my sister. Of course, the Lord did come for her and the Lord continues to come into my life every waking moment. At times I recognize the Lord's presence; at other times I am too busy or too self-centered even to notice that the Lord is near.
As I tell people who are grieving: After time, it still hurts as much; it just hurts less often. It will take much time for these families to travel the journey of grief. My hope is that they find at the altar a place where at least some resolution can be found.
"A branch shall sprout from the root of Jesse,"
and the glory of the Lord will fill the whole earth,
and all flesh will see the salvation of God."
Come, Lord Jesus.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.