Entrance Antiphon

“The biggest  closet is the church “the old woman told the child. “But we cant go there  Grammy ,the doors are locked” the child told the old woman. “I will take you to a secret one “the old woman whispered as they walked down the sidewalk.

Today side by side they walk towards a chapel. It is a very strange day in history when all the churches are  closed like vaults because of a virus. Still, the old woman took the child in hope ..in Hope the child might know God. 

Fifty years earlier, I was child. I rode my bike many places. It was long before it became common for men and women to abduct and abuse, before it became dangerous to ride without helmets and phones, before bikes had many styles and gears. It was in the days when a red Schwinn bike could take you to the biggest prayer closet in town. And so it took me one day, my first day of worship in a church. 

I was very thirsty on my ride and found the park waterfountain out of water . So I thought if the church was open they may have water. I pulled the door open. It was like Alice opening into a wonderland. Suddenly I realized  I  also might find out about a question I asked my mother the night before. “Who is God?”

A friend , Susan McGahee , talked  every day about “God”  as if  he was someone in her family . She would often introduce me to “God” by referring to him often and saying I needed to meet Him.  But  everytime I  would say ” God” , it  felt awkward. I was certain it sounded to her I might not like him. I was somewhat suspicious since my father had told me to not trust people that talked about “God”. And I just wanted to know it wasnt someone she made up in her imagination. Fifty years ago every child had a great imagination. There was no doubt that she or anyone else could have made up a character called “God”. 

When I entered that first church, I didnt plan to ask bout “God” but, something about this big closet demanded a either a request or a greeting. For those who knew “God” they might greet him. But I did not know Him so when I saw a box with a labeled “prayer requests” I wrote my request. I had just had the word request in my vocabulary list and knew its definition.

Though I was 10 years old , I felt as big and bold as an adult in a prayer closet . I wrote”Hi Mr. God who are you? Let me know you like my friend Susan” I folded it tightly in a square , slurped from the fountain beside the wooden box , left singing the chorus of a song my mother played “I really wanna know you” from “my sweet lord” by Beatles member George Harrison. This was my first encounter with church and this was my first entrance antiphon. 

Entrance antiphons start the mass with an expectancy. An expectancy that we will meet  God and he will meet us in  our minds and hearts.  As the leader anounces “the enterance antiphon”, folks rise, even since the beginning of Christianity, to say a text or verse of the psalm . It’s friends, brothers and sisters , in unison, greeting and asking of God. 

Even folks that are not catholic enter their prayer closets with such intention. They want to meet with God. It is the knock on the door of heaven when we say from our hearts “show me your ways oh God” . The enterance antiphon  has been the created way of the church since its inception. Not because of mans intent, does the antiphon enter our worship,  but because of  God’s intent in us. God creates us requesting of Him to show Himself  and Him desiring to fulfill our requests by showing Himself to us. 

It was for 48 more years that I entered the empty open churches with my own enterance antiphon. Most all my requests were desperate pleas and most all were childlike . And everyone of them , every enterance antiphon ,placed as a prayer request , was answered by the one I first called “Mr God.”

I write this now outside such a church . I write this outside the biggest prayer closet of all… the Catholic Church. I write this now as I watch the old woman and little girl sanitize their hands before going into a chapel, a closet that is always open.A closet that is always open when everywhere is closed.  I write this now knowing that forever little girls can ask “Mr God who are you?” and get an answer. 

Notes:

  1. Entrance antiphons were first solidified as part of the mass by Pope Celestine 1 432 . In early time,  lines from  the psalms of David were to be sung. Presently , mostly psalms are used but, other scriptures from the old testament and sometimes new, are used. It is usually a short sentence that reflects the core  message of the mass for the day. For me it sounds as if it is a souls summary of the Lords intentions for the day… but that is only my interpretation. I am after all a closet catholic. 
  2. https://youtu.be/8qJTJNfzvr8My Sweet Lord was a song by George Harrison that tried to incorporate Christianity into all religions. A postmodern song with the intent to bring peace among all religions with a sweet chorus ” I really want to know you” that God did indeed use for me. But Jesus would return with His antiphon… no , “I did not come to bring peace but a sword ” “I am the way the truth and the life, no man can come to the father but through me” Matthew 10:34,John 14:6

 

 

 

closets

“Come out of that closet child? lets go somewhere” I would coaxed my daughter many afternoons. Forever I will remember the face of her  reluctant obedience as she would leave behind her beautiful world to go walk with me to a park. As we walked she would awaken out of her imaginary world . Slowly she would tell me of what she saw and did  in the closet. Every conflict was resolved in her closet. And everything good was preserved.

I had  other children. I would say to them , “its time to come out of the closet!” Their  faces ,I remember ,were filled with reluctant shame as they were leaving behind an addictive world. A world where conflict is resolved with the  pained senses being anestisized by image or substance.  Since creation , Everyday , children all over the world ,are coming in and out of  these closets.

But as much as there are imaginative kids and addicted kidsa ,there are also big children in another closet. The biggest and bravest kids I know still talk abut going to this beautiful place called their “prayer closet. ” these closets may be as big as a bedroom or as small as a backpack or even the hem of Suzanne Wesley’s apron. It is a hiding place for a child of God to enter the beautiful world. Even Jesus came from a closet out into calvary. Jesus went to a beautiful secluded place before He brought His beauty to us.

I suppose it was not so different than the duplicitous closets the first children. Adam and Eve lived in. in their innocent prayer closet, the garden, they divided. at one point were with the beautiful and holy. Here all was more than they could ask or imagine And then , in their shame were hiding in the same closet with their imagination pained and paranoid imprisoned in darkness. At another moment they were reaching for the forbidden.

Still the whole of mankind groans in closets.While some are in prayer closets, others are in addictive closets trying to kill the shame. Instead of hiding in garmets of beauty and truth they are hiding in drink or food or images.

Both in the closet are drinking from a cup . One from the cup of shame and wrath, the other from the cup of acceptance and grace. From the cup of grace , the child’s eyes are opened to a world that is infused with Jesus. From the cup of wrath the child is intoxicated into a blindness where all is dark. The light is off.

But from the cup of grace, the child’s eyes are opened to a world that is illuminated with Jesus . Many children of God have, at times, been in both these closets . Some by trickery and pain have been hiding in the closet that is a prison But  a few small ones, by childlike faith, have been hidden in a closet as a refuge where every intention of their Father is illuminated.

I come out of such a closet . And The Father has spoken  “Child when are you going to come out and lets go somewhere”

The following blogs, in the category of “Church Doors” will journal my hiding in the Catholic closet. I may lose friends, increase enemies . But, I will be able to walk again with my Father and tell the stories of all the adventures in Jesus he has shown me in this secluded closet.

I thank my husband George Unglaub, Good Shepherd Church and Blessed Sacrament chapel for every day I have been In Our Father’s Closet.