I was baptized sixty-one years ago, on Epiphany. It is the twelfth day of Christmas. My sponsor will call me with wishes for the “little Christmas.” My dear friend called me today to tell me I had inspired her with gifts for “Three Kings Day.” She will give them my favorite soap, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Today, after going into the office and getting a ton of work done, I went to Mass at my beautiful new church. While there, I just couldn’t believe that I could be so blessed as to have found this glorious church in the middle of a run-down neighborhood. A neighborhood with maybe more drunks per square inch than any other in town. (It has always seemed that way to me.) It is a small, humble church. It is not beautiful in a cathedral kind of way. It is beautiful in a modest and intensely sacred kind of way.
Every thing is incensed before Mass and during Mass. Even the congregation, and we bow or make the sign of the cross as the incense wafts over us. It feels like we are being purified along with all else. The aroma is, of course, divine.
I was dumbfounded at the woman who sings in the choir. The most beautiful classically trained voice. How did that huge voice get to be in that little church in that little shabby neighborhood?
And how did I, this hopeless drunk, end up in such a place? I felt that maybe this was too good. That perhaps I should go back to the churches with the drums and flutes and sermons with jokes and stories about the Broncos. Maybe I should have the discipline to find the sacred among the profane. But no, I can come to this place where I truly feel the presence of God. It seems too good.
The communion hymn was “O Sacrament Most Holy.” I haven’t heard that since I was a child. Somewhere from the depths of my soul, those words just rose up, and I sang along. I have no idea how I could possibly still know the words, but I did. And I cried to think of myself as a child, so full of love for God, and just about to have that love be utterly buried under my disease and all that goes with it.
Today it doesn’t matter how I feel. I am so incredibly blessed to be able to attend Mass and receive the sacraments.
1. O Lord, I am not worthy
That Thou should’st come to me,
But speak the words of comfort,
My spirit healed shall be.
2. Oh, come, all you who labor
In sorrow and in pain,
Come, eat This Bread from heaven;
Thy peace and strength regain.
3. O Jesus, we adore Thee,
Our Victim and our Priest,
Whose precious Blood and Body
Become our sacred Feast.
4. O Sacrament most holy,
O Sacrament divine!
All praise and all thanksgiving
Be ev’ry moment Thine.