Thursday, February 16, 2012

in the attic

It is chilly here today; the sky's an ominous sheet of gray.  It strikes me as just the sort of afternoon for a climb up creaky stairs to rummage around in the monastery attic.

A friend compares the Church's storehouse of spiritual treasures to an attic filled with family heirlooms, ones discovered anew as each generation comes and goes.  Our Church is blessed with devotions, traditions, revelations, stories, truths, and precious gems of faith.  Some of these are emphasized at particular times, while others slide into the background only to resurface a few decades later.  Thus we may find it helpful to “climb up into the attic” from time to time to see if perhaps there might be some treasures we're overlooking.

There are a few people who try to caution us about the attic.  There's nothing but old stuff up there, we're sometimes warned.  Just bundles of old junk not relevant to the world today.  "We don't really have books about saints," I was once told by someone running a Church library.  "Mostly we have modern self-help books and some fiction." I came away feeling like someone whose spiritual ancestors had been forgotten; maybe even erased from the family tree. 

One of my favorite books was sent to me by a friend in another country.  She'd rescued it when people running a retreat were throwing it into the trash.  It's just an old volume, very "out of date," she was told.  Funny.  I quote this (out of print) book here from time to time, and am often told how much help it has been.

What do we find when we look around in the attic?  Anything we might have forgotten about, but that could really help us in our lives of prayer today?  Letters from ancestors in the Faith?  Devotions carefully folded away for us to discover?  Eucharistic adoration.... ancient prayers... teachings of the fathers... diaries... approved apparitions and revelations... rosaries.... inspired artwork... pearls of great price? 

“The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly...” (Documents of Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).

“Ordinaries must be very careful to see that sacred furnishings and works of value are not disposed of or dispersed; for they are the ornaments of the house of God.” (Documents of Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #126).

“Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2502) 

(painting on this post is in United States public domain)   

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