Shortcuts

At church on Sundays, I tend to forget
the right sequence of words in the Nicene
Creed. My ten year old squeezes my elbow

—she thinks I’m skipping words, going too
fast (just like the way I drive), merely
impatient to be done with it and get to

our destination. I’ve tried to explain
that my ability to remember the standard
version was ruined, ever since Father Jean-

Marie Chang of Lourdes Church on Kisad
Road in Baguio had an epiphany many years ago,
and created a thirty-minute “fast-track” mass.

It started at noon and ended in enough time
so folks could make it to the all-you-can-eat
buffet at the Country Club, or back home

a few streets away before the chicken stew
even had a chance to cool. Tucking, trimming,
and compressing, he also delivered homilies no more

than five minutes long. I’m sure the bishops fumed,
but no one could deny his flock soon outnumbered
those at other churches. His busy, practical

parishioners soon learned to cut through
repetitious language, the God from Gods
and Light from Lights, the true God from

true Gods. He’d even thought to streamline
salvation for us (no longer for us men— all this
predating gender-speak). There are times though,

when I make a more conscious effort to slow down,
to remember those parts of the sonorous old language
that make me think of cool vaults and flying

buttresses; and beneath them the molten yellow
of candle flame. And at the altar, sacristans
swinging censers filled with burning incense,

tendrils of smoke stalled somewhere between
fluttering and soaring, just like the hundred
and more petitions of the faithful on their knees.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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