It's Lent, and as happens every year, but most particularly this year, I am learning things I hadn't conceived of needing to be learned. I've been reading A Biblical Walk Through The Mass, Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy, by Edward Sri.. As an example, this quote on making the sign of the cross:
"Let the cross, as our seal, be boldly made with our fingers upon our brow and on all occasios; over the bread we eat, over the cups we dring; in our comings and in our goings; before sleep; on lying down and rising up; when we are on our way, and when we are still. It is a powerful safeguard...for it is a grace from God, a badge of the faithful, and a terror to the devils...For when they see the Cross, they are reminded of the Crucified; they fea him who has 'smashed the heads of the dragons'." St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
"A safeguard"? "Terror to the devils"? I thought it was just something we did honoring the Trinity. I won't make the sign of the cross so flipently again! As if that weren't enough, "In Scripture, a name is not merely a conventional way of refering to a particular person. A name mysteriously represents the essence of a person and carries the power of that person. Therefore, to call upon God's name is invoke his presence and his power."
Another example is "Lord have mercy." I've already learned that to call upon "The Lord," is to invoke his presence and power. But I didn''t understand his "mercy," or his forgiveness. Then, after reading about the prodigal son, Mr. Sri tells us, it isn't a welcoming of the child back home, but a welcome of the changed child; a child whose heart has change, who has sorrow for his sins, and a noble desire to get his life back on track. Mercy is not to be seen as a higher power like a monarch randomly pardoning criminals in his kingdom. It is about God's Love for us, even in the face of our sins.
As Thomas Howard said in If Your Mind Wanders at Mass,
"In the Kyrie...we may hear the fathomless cry of the whole race of man ascending to heaven from the depths. Kyrie! Goes up from all windows, and all dispossessed and brutalized children, and from all the maimed, and the prisoners and exiles, and from every sickbed, and indeed from all wounded beasts, and we could believe from all rivers and seas stained with man's filth and landscapes scarred by his plunder. In the liturgy, somehow, we sttand before th Lord on behalf of his whole groaning creation."
I wonder, what more do I have to learn? I am humbled by my lack of forethought. I am humbled daily by my inability to become the person I believe God would have me be. I am humbled by that thought, for I can't. I can only grow as I ask for His help. Thanks be to God!