Friday, April 1, 2016

A Most Indefensible Position

Anyone who thinks the Notre Dame Folk Choir is out of the woods come Easter Monday doesn't know our schedule – because as of tomorrow, we will celebrate one of the longest and most demanding liturgies of the year.

But it is also the most inspiring: the Ordination Liturgy for the Priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Overwhelming moments abound at this liturgy: the long, plaintive measures of Ennio Morricone's Gabriel's Oboe and Jacques Berthier's Veni, Sancte Spiritus (sung in five languages) as the cohort of presbyters lay their hands upon the newly ordained; the spine-tingling sounds of hundreds of people and priests singing Easter hymns at the top of their lungs; the joyful (and often humorous) introductions of those to be ordained by those who have worked with these young men, side by side; the faces of the parents as they watch their sons answer "Present!" when their names are called.  This year, the Choir will enjoy a vantage point they've never had before, because with our being in "diaspora" down on the floor, we'll be closer to the sanctuary than ever before.

In the midst of all these moments, there is one action that stands out more than any other – and it has nothing to do with standing.  It has to do with the most indefensible position a human being can take: that of lying, face down, arms outstretched.

Tomorrow, two of my friends will adopt this position from the place where this picture was taken today.  While they are lying face down, they will hear an ancient roll call of men and women who have walked and labored and lived and died before them – people who have done exactly as they are doing, prostrate before those whom they will serve, having placed everything they hold sacred into the arms of the Source of Everything Sacred.

The most indefensible position a person can take.  Helpless before the Word and the People, and yet living in the Power of humility that only the Creator can bestow.  Leaving everything behind... and being given the opportunity to embrace Love in the most miraculous of ways.

I never cease looking at this scene with breathless wonder.  There are people in this world who still have the courage to walk this most compelling road not taken.  It is not for everyone.  But it serves all.  

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