Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wiping the Face of Jesus

The other day, I went in to the Cathedral to change the antependium for Palm Sunday, and heard singing as I entered. At first my heart sunk, because I had been previously subjected to having to listen to bad music being practiced while I worked on the altar. But as I came into the church, I realized it was someone practicing chant! It was one of the Kyries.

The woman who was singing was standing way at the back of the church. No one else was present. I walked down the aisle to find out who she was. We chatted briefly, though I didn’t find out as much as I would have liked, because we both had things we were intent on doing. I asked her if she was a parishioner, and she said no, just an occasional visitor. Darn! I was hoping there was another parishioner who would help me push for some chant in the Mass at the Cathedral! She told me she is just learning the chant. She has a very good voice.

We talked a little about the state of the Church, and about the state of the liturgy in most parishes. She told me that there are a couple of things she tries to focus on when she is at a “bad” Mass, and one really struck a chord with me. She said she thinks about Veronica offering the cloth to Jesus to wipe his face. She talked about how awful the face of Jesus must have looked then – the blood, the spittle, the sweat, the dirt…the bruises and broken nose, the swelling: an almost unrecognizable face.

“The Mass is the face of Jesus to us,” she said, “and they have done terrible things to it. It’s ugly to look at. ‘There was no comeliness in him…He was bruised for our transgressions.’ So I think of Veronica wiping His face. I think of my participation in the Mass as a way to imitate what Veronica was doing.”

I liked that thought, and told her so. Then I said, “Well, I must get back to my antependium…”

“There! You see, your antependium work is your way of wiping the face of Jesus,” she told me.

I liked that thought, too.

May your Tridduum be blessed, and may we all comfort Jesus by wiping His holy face, especially when we see it beaten, bloody, and bruised in bad liturgy.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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