Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Ite, missa est

c. Tina Gulotta Miller
It's been just over a month since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report describing the ways in which many American Catholic bishops covered up credible reports of abuse by priests of their dioceses. The Church is roiled by accusations.  I'm horrified to hear people — children of God, made in the image and likeness of God — called "filth" because of their sexual orientation in the comments of a Catholic news site. Fingers point. There are cries of "not me" or at least "not us anymore." Prayer services are scheduled.  Let's all fast on the Ember Days or say a rosary or adore the Sacrament.

Personally I want to rent my garments and wail on a street corner for the wounds to my beloved Church, nothing so decorous and planned as a prayer service will do.  No delicate rosary is clasped in my hands, that I might count off grace-lit prayers on its jewels. The rough wool of a prayer rope chafes at my wrist and the knots catch on my fingers, "Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I sit not in a church redolent of incense, candlelight glimmering off the gold of the monstrance, but watch a woman rock a tiny child to sleep so her worn mother can do her homework, the smell of bleach drifting past, the holiest thing I have seen today. I keep vigil at the door of the shelter, a tabernacle for this one night, the Body of Christ kept safe.

Ite, missa est.  Go, they said, the Mass is ended. Go, not to repeat what has been done here in all reverent beauty, but to do it again amidst the wild roughness of the world. Go knowing how to hold the Body of Christ up, and say, this, this is God incarnate, come to dwell among us. This wailing child, this exhausted mother.  If you cannot see Christ in the beggar at the door, said St. John Chrysostom, you will not find Him in the chalice.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

In space, no one can hear you scream

Content warning:  seven motifs of disgust

The sneakers in question, post mouse corpse removal.
I have a pair of sneakers I love, Chuck Taylors with sci-fi images on them.  I haven't worn them since before I tore the ligaments in my ankle last winter. They've been sitting in my study, under my desk, waiting for the swelling to go down. I pulled them out this morning after Mass, figuring they'd be a cheery spot on a rainy day.

Oh, there's a dried leaf in there. As I grabbed the stem, I wondered absentmindedly how such a large leaf had ended up in there. Huh, that's a pretty odd shaped stem. It was bit stuck, so I pulled and found myself holding....half a mummified mouse by the tail.

I shrieked.

No one heard me scream. Not Math Man, the two floors down in the basement doing laundry.  Not my brother The Artiste visiting from New York, on a call with his headphones on.

I scrubbed my hands in the sink. Once, twice. I dried them, and wondered about washing them again. I could empathize with Lady Macbeth, out damned spot, out.

The other half, you ask? Stuck in my shoe. How much do I love these shoes?  Enough to take it out on the driveway in the rain and clean it out. How much am I grossed out? Enough that I won't wear them without socks.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

A murmuration of starlings

Over the wall from the Specola, I could just see the vines growing up the sides of the Poor Clares' cloister next door.  One afternoon, when it was cool enough to have the window open, I could hear the nuns chanting, a low murmur burbling like the fountain in the courtyard.  I stood up to stretch and out the window I could see a murmuration of starlings, a dark wing against the sky, swirling up and out of the cloister, then diving back in, always staying with the bounds of the enclosure. A visual chant.