Thursday, June 23, 2011

Binx and me: towards a sacramental life

This morning, Pentimento Very Kindly (that's her full name, you know) sent me the words for a prayer of spiritual communion. So I wrote it out in spider-scratch and took it along to Mass this morning.

When I was writing it out, a tiny Protestant niggle kicked up: if this prayer is answered, and Jesus comes into my heart, then why bother with receiving communion? Can't we cut to a couple of hearty hymns and coffee?

That just shows that I don't have anywhere near the Catholic mind, I guess. When I saw the Mass, I understood that not partaking (when you could) makes as much sense as whipping your brain out, putting it in a jar on the mantelpiece and feeding it virtual experiences.

We're embodied. The sacrament meets us, body and soul. Though I know I will need this coming year of RCIA to shred my residual Calvinism, I want the sacrament to be my life, health and strength.

Binx has the same Protestant problem as I did. He has put his brain in a jar, and is feeding it movies. But he is a mystic without direction, and only movies can numb his sensory overload.

"[...] but then a peculiar thing happened. I became extraordinarily affected by the summer afternoons in the laboratory. [...] In the course of an afternoon the yellow sunlight moved across old group pictures of the biology faculty. I became bewitched by the presence of the building; for minutes at a stretch I sat on the floor and watched the motes rise and fall in the sunlight. I called Harry's attention to the presence but he shrugged and went on with his work. [...] He is no more aware of the mystery which surrounds him than a fish is aware of the water it swims in."

Binx knows that there should be sacraments; he just doesn't realize where they are.

"I asked Harry if he would excuse me. He was glad enough to, since I was not much use to him, sitting on the floor. I moved down to the Quarter where I spent the rest of the vacation in quest of the spirit of summer and in the company of an attractive and confused girl from Bennington who fancied herself a poet."

If he could get to the sacraments, he would find the rotations and repetitions that make sense.

There's more here than I have time to think about now.

Thanks for your prayers.


BettyDuffy said...

What a gorgeous reflection! More please!

Emily J. said...

I've had that thought about the spiritual communion prayer myself when teaching it to my pre-first communicants. But then wouldn't the true Protestant say "Jesus is already in my heart?" Then again, the good Catholic would already believe Jesus is there, anyway, because he would have said a morning offering upon waking.

In the back of my mind I've remembering something Percy wrote in Lost in the Cosmos I think about the connection between words and meaning and metaphysicality. But I can't put my head around it right now. It might be worth looking up.

Which is also why sentences that pack so much into so little like the one about the girl from Bennington that make me love Percy so much. Can you make a sacramental analogy with that?

Otepoti said...

I don't know that richly layered fiction such as Percy's isn't sometimes better left in place, unteased-out. (That's why I lost confidence in Germanistik, many moons ago.)

When I put it all into words, I flatten its splendour for myself, and can never quite get it back. It's like pinning a butterfly to a board.

I do agree with you, though: a consistent Protestant would say that. But then a consistent Protestant who believes Jesus is in his heart, and believes "Once Saved Always Saved" then lacks incentive for further effort. Why sanctify when you can satisfice?

I occasionally thumped the piano for children's Sunday School, and when we sang "Come into my heart, Lord Jesus", I thought, "Ey-up, surely we can only ever sing this song ONCE?" But we sang it over and over, anyway.

And speaking of Sunday schooling, what are the words of the morning offering?

mrsdarwin said...

Thanks for the progress reports, Jocelyn. You've been in my thoughts and prayers lately. I like what you said (in your last post, but I'm commenting here) about saying the rosary -- I've been trying to form the habit myself, but it's hard for me to move from just talking about how important it is to the physical act of making the time and sitting down and saying the prayers.

Here's the morning offering that we say:

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of thy Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for all the intentions of thy bishops, and for all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. Amen.

EWTN gives me a less complicated but pleasing version:

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.


Otepoti said...

Thanks! I have the recall of a gnat, these days, so I'll go with the simpler version.

Otepoti said...

Betty, is this blog still open to invited readers only?

It's just that, especially now, my postings may be intensely personal,and - I live on a thinly-populated island.

Enbrethiliel said...


I hope you don't mind if I answer for Betty, Otepoti. Reading for Believers is open publicly, and has been for months now. I've been able to direct other people here for some of our archived posts.

Emily J. said...

Otepoti - if you haven't been frightened away by the openness of this blog... here is an even simpler morning offering: " Lord help me know you in my own Heart. In all I say and think and do; Lord help me know you in every part of this, my life I live for you." I didn't learn to say a morning offering until I had kids and was trying to say one with them when we were homeschooling. A lot of the time, if my book wasn't handy, I just made up my own using the basic formula of offering everything in the day to God. Sadly, once we became a school family, I never got on top of our mornings to make time for prayer other than grace before cold cereal.