Looking outside my kitchen window, I see my neighbor’s tree with its growing buds in early May. It quickly occurred to me that this same tree could easily look this same way in mid-August after a summer of showing off bright colorful leaves.
Beginnings only lead to endings and endings have a way of lingering until a new beginning arrives. An infant at baptism is clothed in white with a candle; clothed in Christ for a lifetime and a light to show the way to him. The funeral for that infant, hopefully, decades later, is again clothed in the risen Christ with an eternal light of happiness and peace. What begins eventually ends.
“Forever and ever” is the priest’s cue to the congregation’s response of “Amen.” If a priest needs a quick mental break then saying those three words gives him a pause to collect his thoughts. “Amen,” says the congregation implying agreement, acceptance and acknowledgment of something greater after the end, ends.
I attended a party for a first communicant (a second grader) and asked his mom if he went to confession beforehand. She said, “Yes.” I said that that “age of reason” (seven-years-old) is too early these days. One should make a good confession at thirty. She told me that she and her husband were called into the school’s office about their son. It seems he cheated on a spelling test. Anxious parents heard their son say, “Now I have something to confess!” He was happy he didn’t need to make stuff up for the ritual to happen. Now he had a ritual and an honest sin to offer to God.
I laughed because now he has a reason to know of God’s mercy and love. He sinned. He admits it and is sorry for it. He’s preparing for the end because he now has a beginning as a creature and not as the Creator. Sin is rarely about the action although we like to dwell on that. Sin is about the context of someone’s life that led to bad or irrational behavior. Catholic folks still dwell too much on doing “things” in order for other “things,” i.e. salvation, to occur. Yet the Church rejects any notion of doing something toward effecting something else. (See heresy.) It is never about “doing” anything in the name of religion but it is always about responding to what has been won for us because of Jesus Christ and our Creator.
One more rosary doesn’t quicken your heavenly journey. One more rosary is one more reason to be aware that God is actively influencing your life – in small and large matters.
My young communicate learned at an early age that the budding tree is also the same tree that will slowly lead to winter – that endless time when the priest sincerely says, “Forever and ever.”
Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at Amazon.com:
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
“Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflection on the Christian seasons of
Advent, Christmas/Lent, Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture