(picture of The Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hanging banners signify the tongues of fire that came at Pentecost–the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church) [picture by Gregg Felson found at http://www.mary.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=43]
“He [God] has a great fondness for us.” This was said during the homily (another word for sermon or message) at The Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis this morning. Charlie, our college bound son, had the privilege of playing his trumpet there this a.m. so Emily (our daughter) and I attended Mass…a “pull out the stops” Mass too, as just about everything you can imagine was present–lengthy procession and recession with things I knew not what they were, incense, bells, choral pieces that resonate yet within me (thanks Teri! [the choir director]), full organ, brass players (yeah, Charlie along with most of Ellan’s [his love interest] family–sounded amazing guys!), large church, BIG altar, high ceilings, stained glass, statues, ornate artwork (architecturally a basilica is like a smaller version of a cathedral), etc. etc. The worship was amazing and really helped me worship God in His transcendence and omnipotence (not a common worship stance for me, quite frankly) …today’s worship must have echoed, at least a little bit, the perpetual worship in Heaven.
So, when I heard “He has a great fondness for us” in the homily it felt incongruous. Here I was planted in worshiping a transcendent God in a setting that really fosters that awareness and bammo (yeah, ‘bammo’, not a typo) these words brought this God above all gods, who sits on His throne in Heaven down to a personal level, like He was sitting next to me in the pew with His arm around me….Yeah, we’ve all heard that God loves us…so much so that I don’t think we realize what is being said. The word “fondness” helped bring it home for me. I can relate to being fond of someone…I “love” lots of people in a variety of ways, but fondness, for me, entails a more focused feeling: an emotional place where the well-being of another is desired, a place where I bless them in my heart, a place where gratitude for their presence is ongoing, a place where I desire to be with them.
In my head I know the God of the universe is also a personal God but sometimes something needs to happen for that awareness to hit me lower, in my heart. For one long moment that happened today, a moment that helped rekindle a fondness for my friend, Jesus.
I think I can pray again…