the Great Promise in which Now We Dare to Hope.

26 Nov

Moments ago at the end of Saturday morning Mass, November 26, we closed the book on the English words that we have used to pray at Mass for the last forty years – and the only words that I have used at the altar since my ordination thirty-six and a half years ago. There is sadness in the parting. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope. This evening, with the first Mass of the First Sunday of Advent, we begin anew with the updated English translation.

For a while we will need to focus on the words of the text and the notes of the chant. For a while it will be difficult to “pray,” but in a while the new words and notes will speak to our hearts.

Perhaps, when you hear new words, you will hear a new word from God, meant especially for you. Perhaps, in speaking new words, you will approach God in a fresh way.

As the prophet Isaiah suggests, perhaps the Lord, who is the potter, is forming us, the clay, into a new vessel.

That is an image that is suited to a lot of life. The clay does not know what it is becoming, only that it is in the hands of the potter. While the clay is feeling the spinning about that is taking place on the potter’s wheel, the clay also feels the warmth of the hands of the one who is forming it.

For many people at Mass this weekend, the adjustment in the words of Mass is far from being the biggest adjustment that they are making in life at this moment. There are bigger things in life that throw us off balance, and that cause us to be disoriented, and that make it difficult for us to pray. Compared to changes that you might be navigating in life, these changes in words at Mass are nothing.

And as I begin to think that my adjustments are bigger than anyone else who is at Mass this weekend – after all, every Eucharistic prayer is changed, and every prayer that I will pray from the chair will be a new prayer for the whole next year – as I begin to think that my adjustments are bigger than anyone else who is at Mass this weekend, I say to myself, “Wait a minute. God will give me the grace to make the changes I need to make. God will give you the grace to make the adjustments you need to make. That is true, not just for the changes in the Mass words today, but for all the adjustments that we ever need to make in life.”

In all things and at all times, in everything and in every way, the Lord is coming to us with newness of life and creating something new in us. As the Preface before the Eucharistic Prayer reminds us on this, the First Sunday of Advent, that is “the great promise in which now we dare to hope.”

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