Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I've begun to attend Mass at seven in the morning recently. The chapel is made up mostly of transients-- white collar types and retirees and the occasional expatriates. Earlier this morning I noticed a lady dressed in a white blouse, a long black skirt, and who clasped a glittering rosary in stunning black. This lady was obviously rapt in prayer; she remained kneeling for what seemed like a good forty five minutes, spending the sorrowful mysteries and the novena to St. Anthony of Padua intently. Near her, an expatriate-- an elderly Englishman-- sat with his head bowed perpetually towards the altar. He didn't finish the rosary and left three mysteries in.

I always enjoy seeing people in prayer. For me, it has, and is, always where they are most naked, perhaps even more naked than nakedness itself. A man's prayer is the innermost recesses of his soul made bare and splayed before the throne of God. But unlike Adam and Eve's nakedness, prayer 'reveals', exposes a glimpse of our true selves: free from the binding of any mask of false propriety or unmitigated pride before God. Nothing stands in between God and creature; even shame is wiped away by humility. To pray, fundamentally, is to acknowledge that one is not alone: that one is subject to the gaze of an Other, and in a very religious sense, its beneficence.

I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard a gentleman's voice ask me, "Anong mystery na ba tayo?" Which mystery are we on already? I shrugged, a bit embarrassed. I obviously wasn't paying enough attention to my prayers. It was the third sorrowful mystery-- the crowning of Our Lord with thorns.

Perhaps it was God's way of telling me that I need to bare myself a little more. Nothing is ever quite annoying, really, as false modesty.