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Gloria

Source: John 5:44


Here.
Here: take my contribution to building this cathedral: my offering of praise. It's not a cornerstone; it's not a keystone. It's no more than a flash of light, a brightness. And I hope it's in keeping with the whole of this glorious edifice, begun more than two thousand years ago, because I polished it with patience and love, reworking it again and again to make sure it was worthy, was the best of myself, even as it outshines me.
So even though my praise recounts your goodness and mercy toward others, Lord, it's for you and you alone, to you and you alone.

When I had fallen asleep in the shadows, you lit a torch and led me, exposing hidden, dreaded dark sides to my understanding, making them show themselves for what they are. You showed me, lurking in my inmost being, the original sin of consenting, of allowing evil to gain a foothold in my soul. It's a sin we all commit, in every generation, out of self-interest, out of negligence, out of carelessness. Freely consenting to wrong, first in thought, little by little, next out of habit, then more confidently but only as an exception, and finally, one day, when the spirits of evil have devoured all else, falling fully and unreservedly into the abyss. Now, by your grace, I can smell the abyss. It has my own scent.

You showed me how my praying hands were killing hands. Because people who fail to love their neighbour, who are not prepared to save their executioner, are killers themselves. If I don't love my neighbour, I'm a killer.
I feel your gaze search my heart and mind, and I am overcome with shame. Not even a saint could stand tall on the pinnacle of repentance.
You showed me how my hands were covered in blood: mine, yours, the blood of my human neighbours. You showed me how my thoughts added to the misery of the world. You showed me my naked soul, and I saw that it was coming to belong to the spirits of evil. They had crossed my threshold and taken up residence in me long ago. They are hungry for my soul, and my anger feeds their greed. Like death, they're never satisfied.
Wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I was too far gone to prevail against them, and so I prayed to you to counter them for me. Who but you alone can really enter the lists in the human heart? Only you can still enter that wasted garden of Eden.
You showed me that the path up Mount Horeb is straight. There are no curves to make the way easier: no, it leads straight up, from the base to the peak. It's direct. People can't mistake it. And what's more important: if people trip and fall while climbing the mountain, they fall straight down into an abyss, a reflection of the goal at the summit, but a negative image that refracts and only dimly represents the height, devaluing it like a thief. There's a direct connection between the kind of wrongdoing that comes to inhabit individuals and the kind of saintliness that calls them, between their desire and their destruction. But when they fall, they find that a promise has been made to them, and they find that the one who has made that promise is you.

Lying at the bottom of the abyss are two prayers. Both appear lifeless.
One is the prayer for Abel's offering, the other the prayer for Cain's. Both offerings are drowned, in one brother's blood and the other brother's anger. And so, kneeling in spirit on your mountaintop, I offer you my prayer for my own people, those on Mount Garizim and those on Mount Ebal, those in light and those in darkness. I offer you the times when you inhabit my breath, when you burn in my hope, when your love enfolds us in my heart. These cherished ones, all of them, belong to you. I listen to the ones who do not speak to you, I hear them beating within me, so that you can hear them in my soul. I offer you the prayers of the ones who are have nothing, who suffer alone without knowing you, who would rather not know you, who are uninspired, uninspiring or burdened by shame, who are forgotten victims of injustice that darkens their existence and distances them from you, who have died, whose names are no more, but whom I remember.
For all these my people, I pray to find water, the water of the Spirit that I draw from you so that you pour it out for them. The more I pray for them, the more my thirstiness is satisfied in you. With joy, I draw water from springs of salvation.
Praise you for your goodness. It is to you that every spirit gives assent, says Amen.
Praise you for your mercy, in spirit and in truth.

You showed me how your presence is the source and the expression of beauty in all its forms, how your glory is what shines in the beauty in the world. And you showed me what the greatness of a human soul looks like and why, for that alone, you cherish us above all else.
Sunshine in the soul, dense beauty that warms and nourishes.
In the image of the Father, in the image of the Son, in the image of the Holy Spirit.
You are the immensity of the heavens; you are fullness, the polar opposite of infinity. To pray in your presence is to be exhilarated beyond words.
Here, souls are springs of water: as they bubble up, the water is drawn up to your heaven and rains down on your earth. You are the origin of the tides of human souls; their prayers leave traces of foam on your shores. And you are the one whose infinite power melts at the tears of the righteous: they are in you, and you in them; their tears run down your face.

And so, once again, I climbed out of the abyss, leaving the evil spirits drowsing there beyond the silence. I was at peace, and at last I was my true self, the person I was when I was born, with your will to shape my name. Your serenity surrounded me; your power gave me strength.
At the top I paused, to be still; I held out my soul, to wait for you. I was gently filled with awe, and I knew you were there. I knew, because fear runs away from a threat, but awe kneels down before majesty.

I learned that, to pray to you, I needed to be silent, not to say anything. I learned in my heart to set words aside, to keep in my soul only this silent hunger that cries out to you. I looked at those for whom I came to you. I looked at them one by one. Powerless, I witnessed their suffering, their pain and their need, and my soul wept for each of them.
The water of my tears was drawn up to your heaven. On days of wisdom, my tears will run down your face.

Dear Lord, I pray, before my soul dries up, draw up my sorrowing prayers with grace, and pour out that grace on those for whom I have prayed so long in spirit; may those you deliver shine with the glory of your name.
Because happiness, righteousness and goodness dwell in your house.
And Jerusalem dwells in my soul.