Advent 3 – Thursday

Advent3 Thursday

It is he, the Lord Most High

who gives each his place

In his register of peoples he writes:

“These are her children.,”

and while they dance they will sing:

“In you all find their home.”

Psalm 87:4-5

As I was meditating on these verses today, I remembered a time in my own life when the Liturgy was not a part of my personal piety.  Oh, I was a student of the Scriptures, sat at the feet of some wonderful teachers who taught me to love the Word of God, but I didn’t have a clue about this Catholic thing called Liturgy. I was told it was meaningless, rout and mindlessly recited without people ever paying attention to what they were saying.

But that all changed later in my journey.  God had a different plan for me as he brought me back to the faith of my youth and gave me  a different understanding of what is at the heart of the Liturgy we recite each day, not only during our Eucharistic celebration, but through our daily prayers and meditations as well as the Liturgy of the Hours.

It all became very clear to me many years ago on a Sunday afternoon as I was visiting a neighbor’s mother in a nursing home, bringing her Communion.  Elizabeth had had a stroke and she was unable to put more than two or three words together without becoming discouraged. Her words just wouldn’t come out of her mouth. God love her; she’d try, but would soon become frustrated and she would then write her thoughts on a small white board for me to read. I remember a particular Sunday I went to visit her.  I was on my way, walking down the hall of the nursing home, headed for Elizabeth’s room, when the Administrator saw me and called out, “Oh Father Ed, may I speak with you?”  As I passed Elizabeth’s room, headed toward the Administrator, I looked in and saw Elizabeth sitting in her wheel chair holding her Rosary.  That was not an unusual sight until I heard her praying. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

Elizabeth prayed:

“Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy Womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

 

“Elizabeth!” I cried out. She stopped praying and looked at me. She was so happy to see me she tried to speak, but alas, she could not. Now here was a woman who could not put three words together, yet she prayed her Rosary daily as well as anyone.

This, I am told by the doctors, is not uncommon.   I later found out that memorized words, especially those we recite over and over again and again, are stored in a different part of our brain. OK, that explains Elizabeth’s ability to pray the Rosary flawlessly. But there’s more to the story.  As I spoke to her nurse, she told me that Elizabeth finds great comfort in praying the Rosary.

Then she told me something else that happened with her praying.  Elizabeth would become agitated after the sun went down. She had been diagnosed with “Sundown Syndrome” which is when some elderly afflicted with dementia become agitated in the evening, after the sun goes down.  The nurse told me that the only thing that would calm her down was to encourage Elizabeth to pray her Rosary.  I was told it worked every time!

So, what in the world does all of this have to do with our Psalm?

It is he, the Lord Most High

who gives each his place

In his register of peoples he writes:

“These are her children.,”

and while they dance they will sing:

“In you all find their home.”

May I suggest that the Liturgy, whether it’s the Eucharistic Prayers, Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary or anything we do regularly, is like finding our home?  The Liturgy is home for Catholics. We find comfort….the Lord Most High has given us our place where we return, regularly. And as we do, as I do, I find great comfort in it; it is like coming home. Coming home to something that is familiar; something I know, something I hold in my heart and if I’m blessed, is stored in a different part of my brain. Thank you Lord, for the Liturgy. Amen.

+Ed Jansen

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