We are a family of new Catholics, but we are beginning to learn the language and speak it more fluently.
Language, you may ask? What do I mean by the Catholic language?
I’m talking about strange words and phrases that Catholics understand but things which mean something different – or nothing at all – to non-Catholics and converts. For example, Grace means so much more than how we defined it as Protestants. Back then, it was almost the same thing as mercy.
Grace and mercy.
I wasn’t really sure how they were different from one another. And we used acrostics to help us understand Amazing Grace a little better.
God's Riches At Christ’s Expenses. (GRACE)
But grace is everywhere. It is in all things and all moments that lead us to Christ, keep us in Christ, and help us to grow in Christ.
But I think the Catholic phrase that has been uttered most in our house lately is “offer it up.” Now that is a uniquely Catholic phrase.
The other day, my husband asked me what it means. I tried to explain it. I sort of floundered for awhile. But I tried really hard. "It means that everything I do and everything I experience is offered back to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice. We are sent into the world at the end of the Mass to become little priests (prophets and kings). The priest stands in the place of Jesus Christ (sacramentally) and offers up the sacrifice of the Mass. We go into the world and take the place of Our Lords’ hands and feet, offering all that we are and all that we do for the salvation of the world and the good of the Church."
It goes deeper. . . I offer up my disappointments and my hopes. My work. My moments in the garden and my moments in the shower. Those times I need a pain reliever for minor aches and those times I cry out in excruciating pain because I broke a bone or tore a ligament.
I offer it all.
Mopping the floor. Cleaning the carpet when the dog throws up. The agony of waiting for the phone to ring, when the one you need to hear from most of all just isn’t calling.
The disappointment when medical treatments fail.
I offer it all.
My husband says he still doesn’t understand it – but he likes the idea of it. And he’s trying to practice this new thing.
It’s like learning a foreign language for the two of us, but our daughter gets it in a way that we don’t. She is like the child who grows up speaking the language of the new world - fluently. For the transplants, it’s harder. In time, though, they get pretty good at it.
So, I’m offering it up.
At least, I’m trying.