Sixth Sunday of Easter

There’s some kind of race going on in our neighborhood, the Capitol Hill Classic 10K. Yesterday our friend Becky told us that she was racing, was why she was only drinking iced tea. Dawn declared that we needed to leave for church early, what with street closures and such.

So we leave ten minutes early and take another route, and end up getting to church like fifteen minutes earlier than we normally do. Hmm. And so I’m excited at the chance to read the readings ahead of time, which I always would like to do but hardly ever do. And so I’m reading, and now while I’m reading them I’m keeping like one eye open for thinking that I’m going to write about this later, whatever I think about these readings. And it somehow changes them, makes me aware of them in a different way.

And I’m not sure I like this change. I’m reading and thinking about reading and not especially taking anything in, just thinking that these are really boring readings and I’ve got nothing to say about them. Ugh.

But then Mass actually starts and after that I’m totally digging everything. The processional hymn is one of my favorite tunes, Hyfrydol, this particular version Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown.

And all the rest of the music and singing is all just so great, I end up taking the music leaflet after Mass rather than returning it like I’m supposed to do. And I enjoy listening to the readings, much more so that when I was reading them earlier. I mean, I read along with Dawn as they’re being read aloud, like we always do. But something about hearing them too really adds to them.

During this Easter season we have the rite of blessing and sprinkling of holy water instead of the penitential rite. There are two different rites in the Ordo Missae that we use to follow along, except Father Caulfield seems to use some different text that we don’t have. So we don’t know what he’s saying, those of us not fluent in Latin. Sure, I can catch a Dominum (or Domine) or Jesum Christum or (Jesu Christe) here or there (and declension and cases ain’t helping matters, by the way), but that’s about it. Qui tollis peccata mundi, on a good day, I suppose. Father Caulfield finishes and then he and Deacon Rice wander through the nave dunking the branches in the newly blessed holy water and flinging out towards us, flicking the water toward’s us, while the choir sings something lovely, apparently from Hassler’s Missa Secunda.

During the preparation of the gifts, the choirs sings Benedicite Gentes by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

Benedicite gentes Dominum Deum nostrum
et obaudite vocem laudis ejus.
qui posuit animam meam ad vitam
et non dedit commoveri pedes meos.
Benedictus Dominus qui non amovit deprecationem meam
et misericordiam suam a me.

O nations, bless the Lord our God,
let the voice of His praises resound;
He has restored my soul to life
and He has not suffered my feet to stumble.
Blessed be the Lord who has neither rejected my prayer
nor turned His mercy away from me.

Then, during communion, they sing Cantate Domino, by Claudio Monteverdi, although Hassler has one of these as well.

Cantate Domino canticum novum,
cantate et benedicite nomini ejus:
Quia mirabilia fecit.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
sing and give praise to his name:
for he has done marvelous deeds.

Sadly, the recessional hymn is way beyond my poor abilities. Dawn’s too, apparently, as she nudges me and says that she’s giving up after the first verse.

The first reading is again from Acts, as it’s been all this Easter season. Cornelius comes to Peter. It’s amazing what the reading leaves out, Cornelius telling Peter that he’s been directed by an angel of God to tell Peter that the good news is not just for the Jewish nation, but for all nations. And this is after Peter has had his vision of all the animals and the voice (heck, maybe the same angel) has told him that no animal is unclean to eat.The reading we hear today has Cornelius arrive, and then immediately has Peter’s reply. And the reply is utterly momentous actually, even without all the rest of the context. We understand that some great decision is being made: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

Would Christianity would have spread as far and as wide as it did, if it had been kept a strictly Jewish sect, if Peter, and Paul as well, had kept it so? Would I be Catholic today, now; would there even be a Catholic Church? We’ll never know, of course, but here we see the beginnings of the Church as the Church. Sure, Christ gave Peter the keys, made him the rock, but here we see the institution being made. Later, in chapter fifteen, there’ll be the Council of Jerusalem, where Paul and Barnabas come to Peter for like the official word, right here and now is the big decision.