The Most Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass
of Uncommon Courtesy
had left off
asking the question,
then, will you enter?”
You have just passed beyond the door — and
immediately you come face to face with your
neighbor whom you have known these many
years. You look each other in the eye .....
and then pass as though you did not see
him, without saying so much as a word or
making any gesture of acknowledgement whatever!
Your neighbor, expecting at least the minimal
courtesy, would very likely take grave offense
and wonder what he had done to deserve such
shabby treatment. Yes?
Have you ever done this?
Of course not.
If you do, however, it is extremely likely
that your next encounter with your neighbor
will be less than cordial.
What, moreover, if you had passed him by
in your haste to greet, not your very next
door neighbor, but some acquaintance with
whom you really have little to do, not breaking
stride to at least say hello to your neighbor?
What if you were that neighbor?
Would you take offense? How would you account
yourself, in the way of importance, in that
life? You would say that he behaved as though
he did not so much as know you!
What would possibly prompt this discourtesy?
Something, surely, is amiss. You have either
offended him, wittingly or not – or what
is more remarkable still, he had completely
Only one other explanation is possible,
even plausible: ... despite all appearances,
he did not see you! Had he, he would never
have behaved so badly, treated you so poorly.
Let us take it a step further. What if the
person you just ignored was the very person
who had invited you to his house,
and it was his house that you had
just entered. He even opened the door for
you, but you breezed by him to greet the
other guests within ... completely heedless
of your host.
What could possibly account for such odd
behavior? It is either inexcusable effrontery
... or a total unawareness of who —
or where — the person is who had invited
you — or somehow, having arrived, you are
unable to find him.
I am open to other possible reasons, but
can think of none off hand.
The courtesy you extend your neighbor —
and remote acquaintances ... surely you
would extend no less to God Himself?
And yet you walk into the Church, pass before
the Tabernacle (where Jesus Christ
is, really and truly,
remember?) and the Altar, chat with this
one and that one on your way down the aisle,
wave left and right, stop to accord someone
a special greeting – careful to offend no
one you know by failing to acknowledge them
— and finally make your way to a pew, pass
right in front of Jesus Christ with (and
often even without) a perfunctory
genuflection (the kneeling on one knee,
for reasons of which you are quite unsure
— it simply is done ...) you take your seat
... and begin socializing with everyone
... except Jesus Christ.
Sometimes you will kneel in an attitude
of prayer, careful that you do not pray
too long or appear too pious, utter a few
words by rote ... and then get back to business:
socializing while you await; not to enter
most significant event of all time
will be enacted before you,
but to be entertained ... hoping that the
priest today will be not so much a model
of sanctity as an engaging entertainer who
will have a well provisioned stock of good
jokes and cute anecdotes, and above all,
who will make you laugh and feel terribly
good about yourself for deigning, this day,
to bring yourself to God’s Presence.
There is a beautiful verse from the Book
of Psalms that is lilting with alliteration,
and very apropos of this day;
sedet super sedem sanctam Suam”
God sits upon His holy throne.
The problem, however, is that the throne
is right before you — and He
Who sits upon it — and you do
not know! Or worse yet, if
knowing, behave toward Him as you
did to the neighbor we spoke of earlier
whom you first met at the door.
(an unerring test of your Faith)
If Jesus stood before you – visible
to your eyes, as you walked up the aisle
toward the Altar and your pew —
would you behave any differently
than you do at this moment
when He is hidden from your eyes? Would
you chat and gossip with your neighbors?
Would you fail to bow before Him as you
passed right in front of His eyes?
... and once seated, turn your attention
away from Him to more ... important ...
people around you, discussing events more
important than Him and which have nothing
to do with Him?
If you saw with your eyes, you
know that this would not be so.
you fail to grasp that He is there!
— in the Most Blessed Sacrament
of the Altar — and expects at least
some measure of the courtesy you lavish
upon lesser beings.
What we have learned today:
present in the Most Blessed Sacrament
... and should be accorded at least
Courtesy of Recognition.
He is the Host, and you are the guest
... and the House is
Go to Part:
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to the Sacred Deposit
of Faith entrusted to the Holy
See in Rome
opera tua ... quia modicum habes
virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum,
nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have
but little power, and yet you have
kept My word, and have not denied
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