Today’s find: Empty and beautiful, empty and inviting

I love the way the church building at my parish looks on Holy Saturday morning.

It’s the same – but different – as any other day of the year. Pews and hymnals. Altar and ambo. Look off just to the right in the sanctuary, though, and you notice the tabernacle, bereft of its precious contents. Its doors are flung open…its interior, usually hidden, now plain for all to see.

The emptiness is beautiful, inviting. It looks a bit like a tomb, one whose doors could not contain the Mystery within.

Get there early enough, and the church is quiet, too. It’s a great chance to share a moment with the Lord, in joyful hope and thanksgiving.

Morning prayer begins at 8:30 – another shift from the usual routine: Antiphonal prayer, rather than Mass. And it feeds our spirits…both the ‘regulars’ who are realizing how much they miss their daily connection with the Eucharist, and the catechumens, candidates and sponsors all gathered in anticipation of their entry into the Mystery at the Vigil.

I welcome the peacefulness…the break from the routine. I am grateful for the solitude, as long as it lasts. I am touched by the energy, too: the Word, stirring into life in the hearts of the ‘newbies’ – a miracle of conversion taking place right before my very eyes.

The church building, on Holy Saturday morning, is definitely a place where ‘less’ is ‘more.’ Liturgical trappings have been stripped away. And yet, Jesus is there, beckoning all the same.

Come, sit with me, he says. Recline at my side. Enjoy my presence. Notice what is missing from this scene. And notice, too, how I am still very much here with you, in this place…at this moment.

A few years back, I remember reading about what the cosmologists call Dark Matter – the unseen ‘stuff’ that comprises more than 90% of the material in the universe. ‘We know it exists,’ the astrophysicists will tell you. ‘But the only way we can identify it is by its effects on known objects.’

‘Dark Matter’?  Frankly, I think they’ve got the name all wrong. Whether we are peering into space through a radiotelescope…or peering into an empty tabernacle on Holy Saturday morning…we are being invited to catch a glimpse of what, otherwise, we are too blind to see.

We wait there, holding the Mystery in our hearts…anticipating the Joy that is to come.




2 comments on “Today’s find: Empty and beautiful, empty and inviting

  1. Jeff Schulenberg says:

    Beautiful reflection, John. This morning was very sacred, and very much needed. And Jesus also found His way over to Valley Park! (we started at 8:00, so I guess He went there first and then high-tailed it over to Manchester). Thanks for the moving commentary! God bless. Jeff

  2. Jeanette Miller says:

    John…..wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your blogs. Next time I see you, I want to talk about the Menard Prison. Somehow after a wife and three offspring, you kind of…sort of sound like a man of the cloth. Keep up the good work. You may just save some of our souls. We truly need all the help we can get. Please, all of you have a Happy Easter. Aunt Jeanette

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