By Msgr Michael de Verteuil
I walk in procession up the aisle with the people who have come to serve and through the people we have come to serve. I get to the altar table; I kiss it as a sign of reverence and love for it is as a symbol of Christ in our midst and because from this table will come the food and drink of eternal life. And at this altar I will offer to God the sacrifice, the gift of my life, together with my sisters and brothers through, with and in Jesus Christ.
I look at the people gathered before me, each one so loved by God, and each one, as Pope Francis has reminded us, infinitely holy. These are the people of God and I am one of them. I see my brothers and sisters before me, different ages, different races and faces, different genders, different economic situations, and each one holy and beautiful. We are the Body of Christ. We are one.
“The Lord be with you.” “And with your spirit.” We announce the presence of the Lord in our midst. But who can enter his tent? Who can climb his holy mountain? Who is worthy to be in his presence? Who can give God praise? Only the one with pure heart and hands (Ps 24), as Goffredo Boselli has reminded me.
So before we can go any further we have to ask God for forgiveness, for mercy, like Moses who could not continue to the presence of God in the burning bush and like Isaiah who could not enter into praise until cleansed; Moses by leaving behind the dirt of his shoes, and Isaiah by being touched by the burning coal. I stand in need of the cleansing love of God.
Aware of my sinfulness I ask God’s mercy and the prayers of my brothers and sisters. “I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters ….I ask you, my brothers and sisters to pray for me ……” We are one. Through God’s mercy and compassion, we are purified. I am ready now with my brothers and sisters to continue the ascent up God’s holy mountain to divine encounter.
We, God’s people, are now ready to give God praise. “Glory to God in the highest …. we praise you, we bless you, we adore you …. For you alone are the holy one……”
“Let us pray.”
Msgr Michael de Verteuil is the chairman of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, and moderator of the Sangre Grande/Coryal/Toco/Matelot cluster.