The Table

When the priest said his homily was about tradition, I took that as my cue to check my cuticles and clear my throat. My mom might take this as an opportunity to balance her checkbook.

Of course, these silent protests become more difficult with small faith community and online banking.

"Mary Daly" by Angela Yarber

“Mary Daly” by Angela Yarber

The priest continued by telling us that his views on this subject had changed just earlier today.  After creating an elaborate powerpoint presentation for his students, compiling dozens of responses on how they experience the sacraments, he loaded the presentation onto the internet only to discover that the file was only accessible to him, as the teacher.

“I realized that I access and experience the internet in one way, and my students access and experience the internet in totally different ways.”

In reading Mark 9:38-41 our priest explained that tradition is a gift, the love of God, given by Jesus to us, to experience.

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.

These defensive divisions are the result of holding tradition too tightly, of privileging a knowledge that cannot be known.  The priest explained, the tradition of God must be lived and muddled with our own however misbegotten plans.  Ultimately, it is God’s will that we pray for, and trust is far greater than any powerpoint.

This was a big message for such a small space, with room for ambiguity and a lot of questions. If we access the internet differently, surely we access the sacraments differently  — is this God’s will, or are these barriers made by the hands of men? Father, did your thinking on that change today too? “Do not stop him?” — what about her, who called by God, follows her priestly vocation — why do you stop her?

Unfortunately, the space got suddenly smaller as paternalistic language and patriarchal images washed over the ceremony and the Eucharist. It had been a long time since I have attended such a small Mass with such strong power dynamics (there even managed to be tiny pews in this small space!), and so little participation from the community during the celebration.  So much watching one man perform on our behalf. I cleared my throat, we prayed to be held in His Fatherly Hands, and I returned to my cuticles.

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