Monday, January 23, 2006


This week I am the principal celebrant at Mass. When I am not at the altar, I lead the community in singing the communion chant, always in Latin. When I am at the altar and therefore unable to do this, I read quietly the verse given in the Sacramentary. Tonight, I read it and couldn't help smiling (I am one who believes that our Lord has a real sense of humor, aimed especially at those who take themselves too seriously: a gentler cure for pride than humiliation).
"Look up at the Lord with gladness and smile.....[!]"
--the literal Latin phrase is more like 'turn toward the Lord and be illumined'

If you know me, you know that I often grouse about the translations in both the sacramentary and lectionary. Well, I should admit that even poor translations convey the Word of God if we allow them too.

People have often told me that I ought to smile more. I am not an unhappy person, but sometimes when I am thinking deep thoughts or in the mood of a Romantic (in the root medieval sense of the term: a character in a dramatic roman--the early precursor of the nienteenth-century novel), apparently I look frightening. I once was introduced to someone who lived in my neighborhood, and he said to me, "Oh, so you're the guy who scares everyone away by walking like a maniac."

On another occasion, a stranger, perched on a short wall marking the boundary between two properties called to me: "You really ought to smile!" My instinctual reaction was pugnacity, but as this was the time of my life where God was reconverting me to discipleship, I caught myself, smiled a big smile and said back to her, "Yes, you're right! Thank you!" To this day, I believe that she was in fact an angel.

One of the marks of the martyrs is their joy. A similar mark of the atheist is brooding seriousness. Why not "Look up at the Lord...and smile?" He came with Good News, after all.

No comments:


This blog is published with ecclesiastical approval.

If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
Locations of visitors to this page