Goldfish. How and why would I think of goldfish?
At a recent communion service, I was mindlessly thinking of everything BUT such things as “unity, constancy and peace.” Contemplation of God’s unfathomable Love was, well, unfathomable.
Then, suddenly my mind actually heard the words the Celebrant was saying, and I focused on the ending phrase of one particular sentence (from Eucharistic Prayer A): “…Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace.”
And I thought how those would be great names for goldfish…or maybe names of children at some tree-hugger commune. I smiled quietly but after that, didn’t give the phrase much thought.
Then, just a day or two later, I “just happened” to read a commentary to a morning devotional online, and was struck particularly by the writer’s lament. She worried about dwelling in her house of “resentment, anger and fear” and I instantly thought about those three words from the Eucharistic prayer that had made me grin just a few days earlier. While I can never say for sure, I’d like to think that just maybe I was taken back to that funny little moment about fishy names by some Holy Guidance. Maybe what was “given” to me, when thinking of “unity, constancy and peace” was a counter to that unholy trinity of “resentment, anger and fear.”
The holy triune of “unity, constancy and peace” has been on my mind even more in these last weeks.
It has been almost a month now since the horrific event that occurred in a city that I dearly love. On June 17, 2015, nine parishioners extended faithful hospitality to a very sick young man in Charleston, South Carolina, and paid for it with their lives. In the days since, gallons of ink and gigabytes of data have been used by all manner of writers trying to make sense of something that can never make any sense.
The only small thing I can add is to note how the surviving members of the mass shootings at “Mother Emanuel” AME Church are exhibiting EXACTLY those God-favored qualities of “unity, constancy and peace.’ And it strikes me that seeing those three qualities in action can truly lead us all to a stronger faith.
The events in Charleston, and more particularly its blessed aftermath of forgiveness,mercy and grace, are tangible examples and evidence to this jaded trial lawyer of a Divine Good in this Universe. Beyond all reason or logic or science, this Loving Life Force has the capacity to somehow transform horror into hope, tragedy into triumph, and victims into victors.
And once again, the gift of Liturgy can serve as an expression of such mysterious Grace. One other thing struck me in freshly considering this well-worn and too-familiar phrase.
The order in which these words appear — “unity” first, then “constancy” and finally “peace” — seems by itself to be a divine design. That is, the first when combined with the second are precursors and prerequisites which can lead to the third.
- Beginning with Unity, and the realization that those things that divide communities and souls are so much smaller than those things that unite.
- And that sense of oneness, when applied and nurtured with Constancy…
- Can, at long last, lead us (and me) to Peace.
Thanks be to God.