Hands together, eyes closed...

I have been reading Thomas Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain (written before he ventured into less Catholic philosophies)  the last 2 weeks, which my sister recently lent me. It’s been a good experience for me, but has been exasperating, baffling, uplifitng and enlightening in equal measure!! I feel confused about some of the concepts he writes about, but clear about others. It’s certainly left its mark on me…

There are two particular passages which stood out. One where he talks about his first Mass (as an adult) in the Catholic Church, and the other his first Mass in a Monastic community as a guest. In both cases, he comments on the recollection of those around him: a young girl completely engrossed in prayer in the first instance; a group of novices also engrossed in prayer and seemingly oblivious to what’s going on around them in the second.

It really made me think of my behaviour during the Mass. I have been reading some rather ugly stuff in the blogosphere recently, sadly between Catholics of different persuasions, mostly extreme traditionalists nit-picking about the behaviour of less traditional Catholics at Mass (ie those who don’t wear mantillas, or kneel to receive communion on the tongue)

It strikes me that my only outward focus during Mass should be the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament and the Priest, and that should lead to an inner focus on God, and preparing my heart to receive Jesus, not noticing or commenting on what my Brothers and Sisters are doing. To this end, I make a firm decision to be ignorant of the actions of others, which are none of my business. I believe this is what God asks of us. He is the only one who has any right to look, and looking, to judge…


  1. Thanks Autumn..much to ponder...

  2. Beautiful post Autumn. I have been thinking the same thing. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. Of course you are right on. But I have a humorous story to relate. We Lectors sit in the sanctuary up near the altar. I notice when sitting up there that the ceiling was peeling over on the left side. I mentioned it to Father. I guess he took umbrage to that and snapped at me "You shouldn't be looking all around when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered on the altar."
    I responded. "I noticed it during your homily, Father."


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