Sunday, January 20, 2013

and the church that you get...,

With session number three pending, I thought I'd briefly recap the topics covered in sessions one and two, with modest/brief/mild impressions of the instructional intentions/aims of Sister Mary Margaret - our instructor in returning christian initiation for adults - who happens to bear a more than passing resemblance to Mother Angelica.

Session 1. was presented as an introduction to the Angelus Prayer;
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

    Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among 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.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

    Hail Mary . . .

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.

    Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

But we could more accurately have known and understood this session as the "miraculous fruit of the womb" lesson.

Sister Mary Margaret's ninety minute exegesis on this prayer focused exclusively on the serially re-presented old testament account of female barreness capped off with a quick reminder of how that theme was echoed in the gospel with the story of Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. The highlight of the evening's presentation came when Sister Mary Margaret was at the peak of warmness to her theme and blurted out "how miraculous it was that our lord would see fit to bestow the sexual pleasures on old women who had passed their time but persevered by faith".  That the kindly sister's conception of these stories is completely literal and thoroughly personal - was abundantly clear. That the subtext of her lesson was about the special nature of the fruit of the womb was also rather transparently obvious.

The sister was both asserting a biblical grounding for controversial church teaching and authority, and, jigging a lure to see if any of the participants in returning christian initiation disagreed with the same.

Session 2. was a "behind the scenes" show and tell on the uniqueness and exclusivity of the Catholic franchise.

We were taken on a tour of the sachristy

Shown all the sacred vessels

Shown the interior and the contents of the tabernacle

Shown the location of the reliquary - but not its contents - in this case beneath the altar.

The church doctrine on literal transubstantiation was carefully underscored - as well as the specific nature of the church as that communion of persons authorized and in good standing to participate in this literal, physical supernatural network maintained by God's vicars.

Sister Mary Margaret recounted for us the prayerful dream she had had as a little girl - that she would one day lead instruction in the mystery of the communion, and how as an old woman, her prayer had been answered by faith and perseverance.


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