September 2, 2018
It is important, in tracking the attitudes that characterize our participation in Liturgy – if we intend to transfer them to daily life --, that we notice that we come to the fore only after we have put the Other to the fore in showing up, taking part, opening up (repentance), listening. Finally, we get to say what we have come to believe about God, based on what we have come to know about him as a result of turning our attention away from ourselves, we call this The Creed, The Profession of Faith. It is precisely the objectivity of the profession that we need to pay attention to.
Certainly, in the middle of the Creed, there is an assertion that I feel loved, lovable, valued in this relationship. This takes the form of the clause that begins for us men and for our salvation … But this is more a statement of wonder at the kindness of God than it is a declaration of one’s own goodness.
Think of the Creed as an attempt to explain to a third party what it is that makes fascinates and draws you to your boy/girlfriend. Such a description will certainly say something about you and your taste, but that is not the point of the exercise. You do it to enlist someone else’s understanding of the ‘why’ of your attachment.
An honest and objective description is as important in daily relationships as it is in our relationship with God. If I mistake something that is bad about someone for something that is good, our relationship will inevitably become toxic of me. If I pretend that there is something in the relationship that is not there, I will become disappointed and bitter. This description does not tell me who I am, but it does tell me where – before whom – I stand. I will not look for pity from the hangman or wise advice from a two year old or help with heavy lifting from a paralyzed man.
Believing is different from a shopping list, or a marriage proposal, or an exercise in self-fulfillment. Still less is it a mere form of manipulative flattery. In this sense, it is not a prayer, but it is a declaration of who we meet in showing up and who we expect to find and who we can expect to find when we do the work and listen and respond. It is more like an appreciative double take, or a contemplative gaze at the wonderful wonder by the wonder-full wonderer.
Taking time to be objective about those we meet daily, will let them be themselves and will free us form the
necessity of being other than our own selves. The truth will set you free, says Jesus. It might have been, is the world’s saddest phrase, says Oscar Wilde. I could have told you what you should have known is the world’s bitterest pill.
Really and truly and wonder-fully yours,