The little boy in front of me in the pew - probably 8 years old as he has been presented to the congregation today with 20 or so others as being prepared for Confirmation and First Communion when the bishop comes down next month - is spinning a Rosary around in self-amusement, whilst Deacon Hans gives the homily.
For the most part the congregation are paying attention - at least, they are not engaged in clearly unrelated activities. A woman is smiling at her child on the right side; there is a man in a wheelchair who suffers from some sort of palsy and is unable to suppress, at times, a kind of moaning that rises and falls, then stops. Very small children occasionally cry out, even run about. Most of us are fairly attentive most of the time - or so we seem. I myself am paying only partial heed to the Deacon's words, and amuse myself by listening to my tinnitus - and then feel guilty and listen again - or ponder what I will write on my blog this week-end.
So much, I am afraid, of my life is like this congregation of quite serious Catholics - serious because they are, indeed, all here on a Sunday, when they could be asleep, or watching sport, or doing any of a hundred other things more amusing. Many of them - those whose working schedules does not prevent it - are at weekday Mass as well.
Yet, being here, none of us, perhaps, is as fully attentive as we might be. And - when one thinks of it - this is odd. We believe - we believe in our deepest most absolute being, with utter conviction - that almighty God - the Uncreate, the Origin and Source of all being, the Sun in Whose light we see light - that He, with unspeakable majesty and humilty, is about to change bread and wine into His own Body and Blood, and offer Himself to us as food and drink - as the Medicine of Immortality. Ought we not to be trembling in abject and adoring holy fear?
My own life - my inner being - is so much like this ordinary - but is anything in the world really ordinary?! - congregation at Sunday Mass. An attempt is being made to focus on God Who, His Word says, has adopted me as one of His Sons, on Him Who is the source of all truth and light and joy. An attempt, but not much of an attempt. My life ought to be a life of prayer. My every action ought to be an intercourse with the Divine Master. Like this congregation, with children misbehaving, adults sometimes bored, perhaps hiding secret acts that amount to putrid sores on the Body of which they are part, my own life is a mixture, a medley of genuine seeking after the Holy One together with the trivial - and at times, of that which I would be ashamed to be brought to light.
This is prayer. This is my life. And it is only - God grant it! - by the presence of the Holy Spirit that the specks of gold amidst the dross and base metal exist and can be offered to Him. May He purify me, even although through suffering, so that the dross may be burned away, the base metal poured off, and the gold that is His product be finally offered to the Master Craftsman Who may deign to place it in some not unworthy place in the great Work He is making!