By Jane M. Cruthirds
It is Sunday, the sun is shining, and birds are singing. Ah, the Sabbath, a day meant for resting in the presence of the Lord. I have waited all week for this moment! And then I woke up. It really is Sunday, and I wonder how much “rest” I will actually get today.
The view from my pew starts approximately an hour before Mass with a preparation ritual, which includes walking my six-year-old son through what will happen from the time we arrive at church until the time we leave. You see, my son is energetic, sweet, funny and on the Autism spectrum. Transitions, being still and being quiet are near impossible. In fact, he likely would not be able to understand the world around him if he were still and quiet.
Going to and participating in Mass is work, but why should I expect it to be any less? When discussing liturgy with my students, we define it as our “public work.” It is a time set aside in Christian life where we gather as a community to worship, be nourished and practice our love for Christ and others. In fact, this time spent as the gathered Body of Christ is necessary work in the Kingdom of God here and now. As with our earthly work, there is a return on investment. In the course of approximately one hour we are invited to live Christ’s Paschal Mystery: his life, death and resurrection. Entering into this mystery each week offers real rest, a glimpse into the beatific vision promised with eternal life. Why would I give up this true rest to sleep for another hour or two?
Any given Sunday, my son’s view from the pew might be from the front row while constantly in motion and vocalizing or from under the pew while trying to block out all of the stimulation around him. In these moments as I hear Jesus calling out “let the children come to me, do not prevent them,” my heart rate begins to slow (NABRE Mt 19:14). Peace starts to pierce my worried soul. My son and I, all of us, are invited to walk in Christ’s life; a life that offers companionship and help for the journey. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” I can breath again, peace invades my inner most being (Mt 11:29). I am now ready to receive the real presence of Jesus Christ to nourish, strengthen and remind me of my responsibility to
love with abandon.
After all, I am able to love because I was loved first. I was given the greatest of all loves, which created me, gave complete sacrifice for me and animates my every day. Because of this, I can do the same for those under my care “Woman, behold your son” (Jn 19:26). As Mass concludes, God’s presence in the gathered Body of Christ becomes evident. It is in the hug or encouraging words from other parents of children with special needs or the kind smile from someone down the pew. In this moment of resurrection, I know the work of liturgy is necessary and worth any present challenge. Each of us are given the opportunity and safety to practice while in the close embrace of Christ and then sent forth to set the world on fire with love.
Still questioning whether the work is worth it? Just remember, practice makes perfect!
Jane M. Cruthirds is a parishioner of St. Michael Church and a theology teacher at Sacred Heart Academy.
Parishioners are invited to share their personal experiences and observations as Catholics in this column. We would love to hear about your “view from the pew.”
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