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All the way to Mass is Mass

  • 24 November 2016


Twice a week my lovely bride ariseth early, long before I do, and she and the house wolf walk down the hill to Mass.

All the way to Mass is Mass, says my wife mysteriously, but I know what she means — walking along the wooded shore of the lake, through the halls of ash and maple trees, past the yearning sentinels of the cedars and firs; under the osprey nest on the third-base line of the baseball field; past the blackberry bushes and the burbling kindergarten and the redolent bakery and the cheerful bank tellers who wave, and past the police station where sometimes one of the officers kneels down to scratch the wolf's ears, and finally to the church named for a mysterious gracious Jewish woman — is such a walk not a celebration of miracle, a witnessing of grace, a reminder that the quotidian is deeply holy in every detail did we only attend closely enough to see His mark?

And when they arrive at the church on the hill, the church where my wife and I were married many years ago, she and the house wolf slip up the back stairs, and she affixes him to the railing at the top of the stairs, next to the door now propped open with a brick because he ate the rubber doorstop last year, and from this position he can hear the Mass but not be seen, because in my wife's experience the house wolf is a magnet for kids and dog people who admire his wolfish carriage and deer-ears, and she does not want anything to distract from the Massness of the Mass, because the Mass is a quiet miracle available all day every day everywhere in the world, except for some places where it is forbidden by law, and people who gather for Mass can be tortured and imprisoned for believing that the Mass and the faith behind it are bigger and truer and wilder than any state or nation or dictator for life could ever be.

Tortured and imprisoned and murdered. We forget that people are tortured and imprisoned and murdered for going to Mass, that priests are tortured and imprisoned and murdered for celebrating Mass, that priests have been shot dead during Mass for saying Mass. There was only one Oscar Romero but there are many Oscar Romeros. Oscar Romero is dead but he is alive in