Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Blessing of Humble Work

The designs Our Blessed Mother have for us, are far better than the dreams we have for ourselves.

This past September, I got a strong prompting from the Holy Spirit to decline to sing in our church choir. It took a few weeks before I could call my choir director to send my regrets. I'm such a glory-hound and Miss Popularity seeker, I didn't make a clean break or even a truthful one. I made all sorts of rash promises that "once I got the home-school thing solved" I'd be back to sing in choir for Advent. I forgot that since it wasn't my plan to "stop" going to choir, it wasn't really up to me to "start" up again.

So this Advents been an odd one, because I haven't been singing. I don't have long music rehearsals on Wednesday nights. The Sunday hymns arrive as a surprise during each Advent Mass.


In this empty space of non-choir, other things have started to happen. The notices in the church bulletin start to tug at my soul more. I no longer have choir as "this is how I serve the church, what-else do you want from me I'm the mother of young children" in my mind. Without that automatic "excuse" I now notice the pleas for volunteers.

For three weeks, I've read an "urgent" call for volunteers to wash the Alter Linens called Purificators. "Thats your job" a voice kept saying in my heart. "That can't be my job," I answered.

Yesterday, I finally made the call to the Purificator coordinator.

"The job is very simple," she said. "You can do it either at your home or at the church. We only have a rule that linen which has touched the chalice be rinsed first in a special bowl set aside for that purpose because we believe that this is the blood of Christ."

There was an awkward pause where the lady tried to regain her footing.

My whole soul responded. "Yes! Its the Blood of Christ. I believe that!"

The lady gave a little happy breath. "Yes! Well, we don't want the Blood to mix into the sewer. That's why we can't just run the cloth through the washing machine. We must first rinse it out and pour the water onto the yard or the garden. Then we can wash the cloth as we normally do."

"It's okay pour the blood onto the ground?" I asked. "I live in an apartment, I just have a little piece of grass outside my patio."

"Yes outside is fine." The lady went on to give me my instructions on when to pick up the cloth and warned me that I'd need special instructions on the ironing part.(I don't even know the name of this "special napkin thing". Does anyone else know?)

The coordinator was so happy. "I've got some ladies who are in their 70s who are just burned out. They keep saying, 'where are all the young women?"

That made me laugh. Two weeks shy of my 34th birthday, as I struggle with infertility and multiple gray hairs, the term "young" felt good to hear. Secondly, my husband and I started going to Daily Mass this year, something we never imagined we could do until we were both elderly. Now we were in a race to see how many of the "spiritual things we'll do we are older" we could instead fit in our mid 30s. If this church job was only done by mostly 70 year olds, then that was the job for me.

Here I am a tiny Protestant convert. A girl for for 28 years denied the Real Presence of Christ. A Daily Mass goer who still struggles with belief & concentration as a 4 year old tugs at hands every time the Priest says "This is the Body of Christ."

Now I get this sweet, humble, hidden task of doing the laundry for Christ. Every two weeks I get to show by my actions the reality of my heart.

I love that it's humble. I love that it's hidden. I love that it's LAUNDRY, that task in my domestic church which so threatens to overwhelm me. Here I'm doing laundry for Christ, just as certainly as if I was St. Martha's helper washing Christ's linens in the 33 AD.

It's not a showy as serving as cantor at Christmas Eve Vigil, yet washing the "chalice napkin thing" is a much more suited task for my roles as a building block in Christ's kingdom.

3 comments:

Maria said...

Doing laundry for Christ! That's awesome!

Greg Finnegan said...

Good for you! No, GREAT for you!

I know that all prayers are answered. As you did, we just have to be quiet enough to listen. SO glad that you did!

Of course, you probably have a great future someday in the choir! That's the way it works!

Marie said...

What a lovely story to share this Advent! Thank you, thank you. It's awesome!

BTW that sacred "napkin" is called the "purificator." Years ago, a priest's thumbs and index fingers were bound by a purificator at his Ordination ceremony.

The sacred "placemat" is what we call the "corporal," because years ago, it was where the Body of the Lord was placed after the consecration.

Your work is your prayer. God bless you.