I spent the past week as a Master of Ceremonies preparing for the Mass of the Dedication of an Altar. Whenever the bishop of any diocese is going to pray the Mass at a local parish, there is advance work that needs to be done. That only multiplies when the ceremony to be done is an Altar Dedication.
I spent three hours rehearsing with the altar servers team one evening, another three hours with the priest and the priest-MC a second evening, and then three hours the night before making sure all the furnishings were in place. I spent another hour afterwards returning items to their respective locations.
Through it all, I've been trying to keep up with my obligations to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
What was in the Office of Readings this past week? The story of Judas Maccabeus and the dedication of the altar of holocaust. Curious, curious...
Then, as if to put a too-fine point on it, the Lord sent into my inbox the following series of posts from my Divine Mercy Daily subscription:
February 7, . Today, the Lord said to me, I demand of you a perfect and whole-burnt offering; an offering of the will. No other sacrifice can compare with this one. I Myself am directing your life and arranging things in such a way that you will be for Me a continual sacrifice and will always do My will (Diary, 923).
And for the accomplishment of this offering, you will unite yourself with Me on the Cross. I know what you can do. I Myself will give you many orders directly, but I will delay the possibility of their being carried out and make it depend on others (Diary, 923)
But what the superiors will not manage to do, I Myself will accomplish directly in your soul. And in the most hidden depths of your soul, a perfect holocaust will be carried out, not just for a while, but know, My daughter, that this offering will last until your death (Diary, 923).
I am marveling at what the Lord has done for me spiritually this week. Preparing for this event with His Excellency was hard work, but it was gratifying on a level I can't find words to describe. The liturgy was ad orientem, because the new altar is a reconstruction of the one that was removed by liturgical deconstructionists in the post-Vatican II frenzy to deny that Council's continuity with the past. As if that weren't beautiful enough, the brazier was used, and an actual cloud of incense rose up to the heights of the reredos, the backing of the main altar wherein the saints each have an alcove.
So, there I am, adoring the Lord in the hands of my Bishop as he faced liturgically Eastward, and the choir began to chant the Magnificat.
It really doesn't get much better than that! I wish to make of myself a holocaust, dedicating my heart as an acceptable altarstone, that the Lord might place a clean heart within me. Those are the words I pray as I dress into my alb before these litrugies commence, "Wash me of my iniquities; cleanse me of all my sin. A clean heart create for me O Lord, and a steadfast spirit place within me."
May it be ever so.