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Liturgy is petty

As great and absolutely grace-filled as assisting at Daily Mass is, every once in a while you’ll see or hear something that puts that little itch in the back of your brain and the words “that just wasn’t right … was it?” roll through your mind.  The other day something … unusual … happened that actually had a couple of people talking in the stairway after Mass.  This particular liturgical oddity wasn’t what really stuck in my mind though, it was something someone said when I stopped to answer a question (it was inappropriate, I’m sure, and I probably should have kept my nose out of it but I just couldn’t … yet another thing for the Confessional I’m sure).  After I explained, in as brief of terms as I could, the theological reasoning behind the restriction of one particular practice one of the ladies said, “that seems awfully petty”.  At that my brain just stopped – petty was never a word I’d considered pro or con when dealing with the liturgy.

Petty – of little consequence, something of a “take it or leave it” thing.  Yet here we are at the worship of Almighty God, where is made present the Gift Christ himself died on the cross to give us – “who cares?” is not a term I’d really consider using around the Liturgy.  Yes, for me, liturgy is petty – it’s about thinking about those little things that you do (and don’t do) and whether they give greater glory to God or detract and distract.  To truly love someone is to fret over the little things – to know how they like their coffee, their favorite color, flower, author.  To love God is not to stop at the Beatitudes but to look beneath them, at the small things it takes to make the big things go.

Can you over-do it with a focus on the small things?  Of course you can, and I would never advocate a focus on buckled shoes over feeding the hungry.  To suggest, however, that one cannot do both the one and the other is frankly rather insulting.  In his The Spirit of the Liturgy Pope Benedict wrote that our unity comes not from our friendliness with each other nor from any other human source, but from our being centered around Christ – that it is through our common focus on Him that all our other forms of unity spring, and the source and summit of that focus is in the Liturgy.  Ought not we to make sure as best we can that our gaze is focused as closely on the center that is Christ by careful attention to how we cast that gaze?  Ought we not, in that sense, to be petty?

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam.

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