In Florence, Italy, the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Fields, with its multi-colored exterior brick, stands out as an architectural gem in that center of art and culture. One warm, fall afternoon, I stepped into its cool interior to view its beauty and enjoy its silence.
A giant sized painting of the Last Supper covered the back wall of the Sanctuary. Suddenly, to my joy, the Cathedral organist, evidently a world class musician began playing an original piece of music. To my surprise, the virtuoso moved up and down the scale in different keys on only four notes – filling the great Cathedral with soul stirring chords of music, now faint, now thunderous.
“How can all this glorious music dome from only four notes”, I asked myself. As never before, my spirit sang out in joy at this unexpected musical treat which went on for an hour.
As I sat looking, in the semi-darkness, at the painting of the Last Supper, I kept thinking of the Words that Jesus spoke that night before He died. On that evening, on two occasions, He spoke four Words . . . “This is My Body” . . . and . . . “This is My Blood.”
Were any more inspiring Words ever spoken on this earth? I connected those four Words with the powerful music being played on just four notes in the Cathedral that afternoon.
I pictured in my mind’s eye all the priests down through the centuries as they offered Mass and said these Sacred Words . . . sometimes in small chapels, great basilicas, on fenders of Jeeps in wartime, in horrid conditions of concentration camps. What a holy concert of music these Words of Christ have added to the world!
Often, since that time, I have traveled back in spirit to this splendid place of worship in Florence. In doing so, I renewed in myself the power, the glory and the majesty of those Holy Words spoken by the Lord on the night before He died.
As we attend Mass, listen carefully for those inspiring Words of Consecration, which bring the Lord down on our altars. Treasure them!
Fr. George Mc Kenna
We are all familiar with the famous theatrical play, “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. The action takes place in a small town, Grover’s Corner, and concerns a young girl Emily, a lifelong resident of the community. Emily dies in giving birth to her child and is buried in the local cemetery. The Third Act shows Emily sitting on a tomb stone, conversing with her mother-in-law, Mother Gibbs.
Emily muses, “I would like to go back to town and live again!” She talks to the stage manager who permits her to go. Mother Gibbs had tried to dissuade her from going back. “You’ll be hurt.” So, Emily returns to Grover’s Corners to the day of her 12th birthday. All things are as they were then.
The table holds many presents for her, but now she is not interested in them. She tries to slow her mother down so that they can share each other for a time, have a chance to communicate. Sadly, mother is busy with many things that occupy her. Emily wants to share the smell of the coffee and the bacon coming from the kitchen, the tick tock of the clock, the moments of falling off to sleep and the fragrance and the beauty of a sunflower.
However, these people are so busy living that they don’t have time for any of these things. In dismay, Emily asks the stage manager to take her back up the hill to the cemetery. “O’ Earth, how wonderful you are! Is there anyone who really lives each minute of the day?” The stage manager answers, “No! Saints and poets perhaps yes, to some extent.”
This would be the same story of people who come back and take up their place with us again. They would try to stop us from these hurried frenzied lives we lead. “Stop”, they would say. “You are missing the real joys of living with that kind of life style you have.”
At the beginning of the day, the week or the month – really anytime, is a good opportunity to take time out to reassess our lives and the direction we are going in. Is it necessary to lead a life of quiet desperation? We only have this one life. No more will come our way. Am I really enjoying the style of life I am leading or not? Take some time to reflect, to pray, to listen, and then to act!
Fr. George Mc Kenna