We Are The Clay
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
“Yet, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”
We are the clay being shaped by the hands of God; sometimes the clay needs a good thumping to change its shape. We resist change, especially those changes that challenge us, stretch us, and demand that we take a new shape. Yet we need this shaping in order to become worthy vessels of our Heavenly Father, capable of holding the living waters of Grace. We are made in the image and likeness of God, remade more perfectly by Baptism, but the process is not complete until we reach the perfection of Heaven.
We have misshapen ourselves by sin. Our souls bear the wounds of our self-service, and often our bodies do as well. It takes a bit of mortification (dying to self) in order to shape us up into healthier, livelier persons. In a sense, we need the vicissitudes of life in order to stamp out our vices. Rarely would we seek out or even accept difficulties for the sake of self-improvement. How many more of us have subscriptions to Netflix than to the PACC? We tend to take the easy way out, allowing ourselves to be shaped more by gravity than by thoughtful, directed soul-sculpting. Our internal discipline is insufficient to perfect us on its own; we need the external influences of Christ and His Church.
In a way, the restrictions imposed upon us because of the COVID-19 pandemic have provided us with an Advent gift, if we choose to treat it as such. We have stripped down our liturgies to the bare bones. We are speaking the parts of the Mass that we normally sing; we can now focus more of our attention on what we are saying. We are spaced socially apart from our neighbors at Mass or even worshiping remotely; this can be an opportunity to focus on the intimacy of our personal encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, or it can challenge us to find new ways to bridge the distance between us and our neighbors. We cannot convey the warmth of our affections through physical contact or even a smile; this can challenge us to reach out in new ways and be more expressive with our gestures and facial expressions. Our masks dampen our voices and muffle our speech; this is an opportunity to increase our appreciation of silence at Mass or lead us to speak out more strongly in other ways—writing letters (actual letters, not just email!) to convey our thoughts and affections to each other and build each other up.
In these many challenges we can come to a deeper appreciation for the Mass itself. Then, when restrictions are lifted, our unfettered expressions of joy and celebration will be all the more full-bodied. May God grant us the grace to receive the shape He intends for us, that we might be conformed more and more to His Divine Will for us, as individuals and as a Catholic community.
Peace in Christ,
Father Matthew Kuhn