This morning, I went to Mass as I usually do. I don’t remember exactly what the readings were, or what the homily was about so much. I remember it’s Saint Monica’s day, and she is a mother who prayed for her heathen son, [Saint] Augustine. She was also an alcoholic. I also remember reading the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer:
Psalm 24: The Lord comes to his temple.
The response, “The man with clean hands and pure heart will climb the mountain of the Lord.”
The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and all who live in it. He himself founded it upon the seas and set it firm over the waters.
Who will climb the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in his holy place?
The one who is innocent of wrongdoing and pure of heart, who has not given himself to vanities or sworn falsely. He will receive the blessings of the Lord and be justified by God his savior. This way those who seek him, seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors, and let the king of glory enter. Who is the king of glory? The Lord of hosts – he is the king of glory.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
“Who will climb the mountain of the Lord?” This is what stood out to me. It’s a really strange Psalm. I just couldn’t get past this “mountain of the Lord.” Part of me imagines a mountain dedicated to or owned by God, and then there is also an image of a mountain that is God. How does that even work, and am I that person—called to climb the mountain. Are we all that person?
None of us really meet the requirements laid out in the Psalm—innocent, pure hearted, not given over to vanities… Me just turning on my computer could become me being “given over to vanities.” So what’s the deal? I don’t know. Maybe this catholic/protestant thing is my climbing the mountain of the Lord.
But during Mass this morning, I thought about becoming Catholic and preaching in the church of Christ, and I didn’t feel weird about either. I felt good. I felt fine. About both.
When I was at Pepperdine University, all the student leaders took this test called “StrengthsQuest,” and one of my strengths is “Includer.” Of all the different strengths, I found this one the most like me. I want everyone to get along. I want everyone to feel like they belong. I want to get along with as many groups as possible, and I want those groups to get along with one another. I am definitely an includer.
I think that’s why I feel so much draw and annoyance with the Catholic church. I want to be included, but I don’t want to simultaneously be excluding myself or anyone else.
My CoC mother was confirmed Catholic this past Easter, and I thought it was cool. It’s basically standard that no one really understands the full brunt of “converting” to Catholicism, and, hey, Mom did it. She’s not excluding herself in any way. She is simply being who she is, going to Mass and going to CoC. Being with my dad in Mass and being with my little brother at CoC. Being a family.
I don’t know why I think Catholics are more explicitly exclusive as opposed to any other type of Christianity. Perhaps because it appears more overt, written in stone, in the tradition. Instead of a covert, unspoken rule of un-creed-like evangelicals.
Another Catholic/Protestant parallel discovered: Christianity, all Christianity, has a tendency to be exclusive. Not just Catholics, Paige. Stop fooling yourself into thinking you’re a genuine includer at the same time being a Christian—stereotypically cliquish.
Genuine Christianity, I believe, is inclusive.
I think that this is a mountain we all need to climb, and we climb it over and over. It’s a hard climb, it requires that we push through, keep learning, keep trying, keep praying, pure or not. The mountain of the Lord takes us all to the summit. Saint Monica had, as many saints do, a rough life full of disappointment, but she persevered. And I think it no coincidence that her feast day falls on a day where this Psalm is read. She climbed the mountain of the Lord and made a path for her descendants.
We can’t be the same people at the bottom as we are at the top, and there will be another, are we brave enough to do another. The mountain stays the same while we are transformed, healed, purified, and converted on the hike up.