Monday, February 20, 2017

Curveball Homilies

I noticed my attention shift as I sat in the pew. I took note of my surprise prompting me to listen more closely. It wasn't what I expected at all. Not by a long shot.

These days, my alarm goes off at 5 am. If my baby is still sleeping, I slip quietly into the living room to read the daily readings. I reflect on what stands out to me and consider implications for my daily life. 

I noticed a significant shift in my understanding of The Bible when I started to attend daily Mass and benefit from the homilies. I have gotten used to the rhythm and flow of the structure of my priest's homilies. They provide comfort at the start of my days.

As my familiarity with the readings have increased, I have noticed that when I reflect in the quiet of the morning, I often anticipate what I think my priest might say. At times I remember something he said about the same reading previously or I notice one of those common threads recently explored and expect to hear a similar message. 

At times my expectations align; however, lately I have been reflecting on the impact of what I refer to in my mind as curveball homilies, those homilies where I am peaceful and relaxed as the words start flowing from his mouth and then I am caught off guard. 

While perhaps not noticeable from the outside, on the inside I notice a sudden physical change. My heart beats faster. I am more alert. There's that sense of wanting to capture and retain every word in order to ponder it and turn it over in my mind, working to accommodate this new lens into my existing schema. The element of the unexpected can evoke a range of emotions, but there is a consistent sense of awe towards the gift of this new depth.  

I am still in a state of shock during the silence our priest provides following the homily, and as a result, it is harder to pull myself out of reflection and continue on with Prayers of the Faithful, shifting my focus. Throughout the day my thinking shifts back to the homily as I carry on with my tasks.

Not every homily will be a curveball of course, and I would not necessarily want that. Cognitively it would be harder to process and it would likely feel less special since I would be expecting the unexpected, removing that curveball effect. Instead, the Holy Spirit appears to work through priests to give comfort through familiarity at times, while shaking things up at others.

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