Have you ever been to Mass and had a lector that read the reading so fast you could hardly tell which book the reading was from, much less what was actually being said? Today, that’s what happened to me. I basically had no idea what the reading was, or the psalm for that matter, until I came home and read the readings online (and the fact that Fr. Brian preached on the reading so he re-read it to us!). There was a part of me that wanted to hold up a sign for that person and tell them to slow down – don’t you know you are reading THE WORD OF GOD?! Why are you RUSHING through it?
Have you ever been to Mass when the priest rushes through the consecration? When it is obvious that he is just going through the motions? Isn’t there something in us that wants the priest to slow down, to really mean the words that he is saying as the bread and wine are mystically transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ? In my pride I’d like to go up there and say the words better or slower or with more meaning (thank God I’m a woman because I could never imagine being on the altar saying the words of consecration, even in my most prideful moments).
Have you ever prayed with someone and they prayed so fast that you had no idea what you were actually praying for? What about the Rosary? Have you ever prayed this beautiful prayer with someone when they rushed through the Hail Marys without giving you a chance to meditate on each beautiful word (even if you say it 50 times)? A few weeks ago I was praying the Rosary with the man who is courting me and he pointed out that I rush through the “Hail, Holy Queen” so fast that he could barely catch his breath, much less keep up with me. Good golly folks, what are we rushing for? We rush through the Word of God, we rush through Mass (isn’t there a football game on…if I had a dime for everytime a priest asked for a football update DURING his homily [and then there is someone who knows because they are checking on it, usually on their cell phones, DURING Mass!?!!?] I would be a rich woman), we rush through our prayers, we rush through our whole lives.
Hold your horses.
Hold the phone.
Back the train up.
Take a breath!
We have so many phrases for slowing down (I just googled “phrases about slowing down” and the first thing that came up was a link called “What does ‘slow down’ mean?”) and yet we hardly listen to any of them. We rush through the Word of God, we rush through Mass and we rush through prayers because we have been conditioned to. Last week I blogged about my own impatience (I’ve joked before that I could be the Queen of Impatientland) and God continues to show me just how impatient I am. I’m even impatient with people who are impatient (think of the lector at Mass this morning)! I think my own impatience is why I miss living in the south so much – life just seemed slower. Perhaps it was because I was in college and didn’t have bills to pay and a job to get to and a never-ending list of things to do, but I still believe that life in the Carolinas and in Georgia was just slower. You can see it in the way people drive, in the way they treat each other, the gentle way they live their lives. Maybe I’m romanticizing my memories of the south, but maybe I’m not. Aren’t we all called to a slower pace in life?
How do you imagine Heaven? Do you think once we get there that we will all be running about like busy bodies, constantly needing to get something, anything done? Goodness gracious, I hope heaven isn’t like that. Eternal bliss. Rest. Finally and eternally being with Jesus, sitting at His feet and learning all that He has to teach us. We, as people in the world, not of the world (also what the homily at Mass this morning was about) are called to live a life focused on Heaven. If that is true, then shouldn’t we be living life just a little bit slower? Saint Paul tells us in his letters that we should not be idle as we wait for the coming of the Lord, nor should we be running about as busy bodies. Our work should have a purpose. There has to be a happy medium between running about and being lazy. There has to be a balance between running through the readings, “AreadingfromthefirstletterofSaintPaultotheCorinthians. Loveispatientloveiskindlovemeansslowlylosingyourmind” (10 points for whoever names that movie reference first!) and making each reading an hour long. There has to be a balance between rushing through the consecration and making Mass ten hours long. So, hold your horses.
Perhaps if we took Mass as seriously as we are called to (it is the highest form of prayer that we have) then we would be able to slow down in the rest of our lives as well. It has to start somewhere, so let us slow our hearts down in Mass, in Scripture readings, in our prayers, in the hopes that we would slow down in our every day lives. (Even as I’m writing this blog I have four tabs open in the internet and I’m listening to a playlist that I’m working on…no one is perfect!)
Lord, help us to slow down. Teach us to hold our horses. Grant us the grace to truly savor Your words in Scripture, the words of the Mass and our time in prayer with You and with others. May we begin each day to see You more fully as we slow down to appreciate all that You give us. Open our eyes to see Your beauty in everything. May we stop to smell the roses even in the dead of winter, may You guide our hearts towards Yours, slow and eternally serene. AMEN.