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April 12, 1999

Alleluia

Today I have been thinking about a tape of Orthodox chant that I have, after all it is Orthodox Easter and there is an Orthodox Crucifix over my desk replete with the four elements. On this tape recorded in an Orthodox monastery somewhere in the northeastern United States there is one particular prayer that bothers me while at the same time filling me with peace.

It goes something like, (and here you have to imagine this being chanted in a very deep masculine voice) For Catholics and thier salvation, (and then the following being answered in an enthusiastic yet reserved chant of a very masculine choir) LORD HAVE MERCY, LORD HAVE MERCY!

I'm not sure what bothers me about being prayed for especially when its my salvation that is being implored, I guess it has something to do with the implication that because I am a Catholic my salvation is somehow in jeopardy. But all the same I think the Orthodox monks for being so kind as to pray for me and the other Catholics anyway.

Which leads me to reflect on Easter. The church I went to today was ugly. It has a marble backdrop that reaches to the ceiling. I stared at it throughout mass and found myself reflecting on what the architect who designed it had in mind.

At first I figured he probably had nothing in mind, but knew a place where he could get some pink marble real cheap and make a killing by using it to build this church. After allowing such uncharitable thoughts to pass, no doubt in answer to the Orthodox monk's prayer I tried hard to imagine what it was that it all symbolized. Then it struck me.

It was one large gravestone. It was unmistakeable, the shape, the placement of the crucifix. All of it was in the perfect shape and look of a very large gravestone.

At first I thought that to him this was some subconcious message that Christianity is dead but then thanks to the Orthodox monks again it struck me, no you idiot he or she had in mind that the basis of the Church is an empty tomb.

The early Christians celebrated mass on tombstones and this architect had wanted to duplicate this in his design. Hmmm I thought not to bad.

Meanwhile the priest was intoning, "The Mass is ended go in peace, Alleluia, Alleluia" having a lot of problem with hitting all the notes in the last part of the Alleluia.

Thanks be to God! Alleluia Alleluia (in equally off key)!

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