Saturday, August 09, 2008

What does it mean to belong to the "People of God"

"The People of God"
Q. What does it mean to belong to this community of faith?

A. Long form first, then short form.

A1. To belong to the People of God can mean a great many things,
illustrated by the diverse meanings of "church" as many Christians follow the gospel.

Traditionally and most early, these were found in the beliefs in the Our Father prayer.
In the 4th century these beliefs became codified in the Nicene Creed.

The earliest form of the People of God took five guidelines:
Gather the People
Tell the Stories
Break the Bread
Celebrate the Vision
Welcome the Stranger.

My own best form of Celebrating the Vision is found in the words of Mary in response to the message of the angel that she was “full of grace,” and her womb blessed. In Catholic tradition, these 16 verses are called the Song of Mary, or the Magnificat. (Luke 1: vv 46 ff)

I truly love this song of Mary. Its verses have become my morning prayer, my midday prayer, my evening prayer, my mantra. I never seem to tire of it. It is, I believe the song of the Christian community, one that each of us is invited and intended to sing from our own hearts, because the “lord is with us.” It is, in fact, the prayer read, sung by every priest, monk, nun for at least the last one thousand years, and possibly 1500 years since the time of Benedict.

"My soul magnifies the Lord!" The response, the sone that each of us is invited to sing.
My Spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He who is mighty has done great things to me,
and holy is His Name....
Are not all of these verses meant to be celebrated and sung by all the faithful of the community of God?

As young priests just ordained, we were invited to give a brief homily to our community. In 1959, I* chose the Magnificat, and committed all the verses to memory for this occasion. Since then it has become my favorite prayer. I love every verse.

I am still selfish and still do not pray as I should, constantly. But increasingly, now working on my 80th birthday, my heart is increasingly full of humility and gratitude for so many undeserved blessings, that this prayer often comes to my mind, my heart and my lips.

My soul magnifiers the Lord.
I can never give back sufficient to this Divine Mystery
that long ago captured my heart.

I would love to be able to sing this song
with body, heart, mind , soul for 50 years,
God willing and the crick don't rise.

Paschal Baute, August 9.

Short form answer:
A2. Find and love Christ everywhere.

St. Benedict advise the Abbot to find Christ
not only in the stranger who comes to the gate
but also in the youngest in the community,
"because Christ may speak through him."
(Matthew 25: vv 31 ff)


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