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Essentials remain


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Some things have more staying power than one would expect. Consider, for example, how very strange it is to "cc" an email to someone. That's right, "cc," carbon copy. I asked a twenty-something friend about the term, and while she knew that's what "cc" stood for, she wasn't completely clear about how carbon copies worked. Remember how hard it was to line up the carbon between two sheets of typing paper and successfully roll them into the carriage of your typewriter without smudging the carbon all over the paper?

Our world has been way past carbon copies and typewriters for quite some time. Funny, though, the term lives on despite the fact that fewer and fewer people actually know what it means. It's almost as if nothing at all had changed, when just about everything has.

Some things, however, simply do not change. That will be an important thing to remember as the familiar language we've used at Mass for the past forty years disappears next week. The core of what we do, why -- and for whom -- we do it, will not change. The essentials of worship will remain the same.

There is no better Solemnity than Christ the King on which to recall that God, sovereign and almighty, is on the throne, and that he will never abdicate. At Mass, we join the angels and saints as they surround that throne with praise. We offer God not just our bread and wine, but our hearts and lives. He offers us Holy Communion as a foretaste of eternal life. It is the most gracious and advantageous exchange in the history of human experience.

Yes, the words we pray at Mass will change, but their effect will not. God will speak through his word, and act through his Sacrament. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the priesthood of Jesus Christ himself, we will receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ -- his presence, real and true, in the Eucharist. Through the liturgy, the sacrifice of Calvary will reach into our time and space; we will stand at the foot of the cross and behold the Lamb of God.

Will we stumble over what is new and unfamiliar? Probably some. But we will also be shaken out of lifeless repetition. We will have the chance to learn once again how to pray, perhaps even what it means to pray.

Discipleship is often messy. In the next several weeks, most of us will experience that messiness at the parish level. Things may not run as smoothly as usual. The verbal cues we are used to won't be there, and chances are the responses we've been told to expect won't come off our tongues as readily or as clearly as they do now. When those things tempt us to throw up our hands, or stamp our feet: patience! Patience is animated by trust in the things that do not change. Ultimately, that amounts to trusting in the God who does not change. Remember: at the end of time even heaven and earth will be new.

At the end of time, however, God will remain as he has always been. The liturgy we lisp through here on earth will be perfected, just as our bodies and souls will be brought to the fullness of resurrection. The prayers we pray in uncertainty now will give way to the praise that rises naturally from those who see the face of God. Maybe then we will still call worship Mass, and chuckle at the quaint and obsolete notion of translating prayer at all.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.

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