I recently had the wonderful opportunity to spend two summers in Austria with the American Institute of Musical Studies. I was in Graz, Austria’s second-largest city in the country’s southeast corner. What a glorious experience, except for that one day. A friend and I were riding across town to a laundromat. When we got off the bus, I noticed that something was missing—my purse! Panic doesn’t come close to what I felt. My purse had everything in it, including my passport. I left my laundry with my friend and hopped on the next bus, trying to explain my crisis with my limited German. A kind man who understood more English than I understood German took me to the city’s center for transportation. There they looked at me with sympathetic eyes, explaining that there was little to no chance I would get my purse back. But, they encouraged me to check again later. After a couple hours (and a hundred prayers to St. Anthony), I went back. This time, their eyes were brighter. They reached into a lost and found cabinet and out came my purse. I looked inside and everything—EVERYTHING was just as I had it. No words can capture the humble gratitude I felt.
Humility and gratitude are the fundamental elements of our liturgical prayer. This is why we begin our liturgy with the Penitential Act. We humbly acknowledge that we often lose our way, and recognize that God is always there, waiting to ‘find’ us. Our only response is sheer gratitude. Some of the prayers we pray during our Penitential Act will be changing in the New Roman Missal. The Confiteor, for example, the prayer that begins “I confess to almighty God” has been changed to reflect a more accurate translation of the original Latin. Let us pray that these new words lead to a deeper awareness of God’s mercy, on whom our every breath depends. AMEN.