Good Zeal

Bearing the cross during Advent

This morning we had one of those Masses that leaves the sacristan feeling like she barely escaped with her life. The cross-bearer forgot to bear the cross. The organist couldn’t find the music for the final hymn. And there were a couple of other heart-stopping moments.

Heart-stopping if you’re a sacristan, that is. Hopefully no one else was aware that the cross was carried by someone who, as Mass was about to begin, realized that the cross-bearer was contemplatively settled in a pew far, far away. Hopefully no one else noticed that the flautist suddenly stopped ‘flauting’ and began searching for missing music amongst the stacks at the organ. And hopefully no one else noticed the couple of other sacristan-heart-stopping moments.

Yet from my perspective as sacristan and flautist, it was, strangely enough, the perfect opening for Advent, this season of preparing for the coming of the Lord. No matter how well we prepare, we are human. Things go awry. We lose the music amongst the music. We lose ourselves in contemplation. We prepare and prepare, yet when the lights are turned on and the candles are lit, we still need each other to help us carry the cross and sing the song.

As we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord, it’s good to be reminded of our emptiness. It’s good to be reminded of just how much we need our Lord, and need each other. And it’s good to be reminded of the many ways in which the Lord comes to us. Sometimes it’s in the guise of the one who helps another to bear her cross and sing her song.

Postscript: Today during lunch someone said “That was a beautiful Mass.” Inwardly, the sacristan smiled. She had escaped with her life.

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