Real men kneel on stone

Real men kneel on stone

A Catholic chaplain serving with US Marines in Fallujah in Iraq, Fr. Michael R. Duesterhaus, has his own blog, and it provides both a clear illustration of the quality of men and women who serve our country and a clear-eyed understanding of what’s really important in liturgy. It’s one thing to ooh and aah over felt banners and readings from Pablo Casals in the “daring” environment of your liturgy committee meeting. It’s quite another to encounter the Lord in the Eucharistic sacrifice as death claws at the door whispering “Mortal!” in your ear while you contemplate the death of comrades, separation from family, and the nature of self-sacrifice.

In Duesterhaus’s May 8 entry he describes his small chapel at his base of operations in Fallujah and its sparseness.

It has benches along three sides, a field altar in the center, and a tabernacle on the fourth wall, mounted on a wooden platform.  Nothing fancy, but it is more than most places have, so I am more than satisfied.

The floor is stone tile. One day I commented during my homily that maybe we should get foam rolls from Supply to kneel on.

After Mass my collection of one enlisted sailor, two Navy officers (doctors both), one enlisted Marine, and four Marine officers had a quick huddle. As one of the officers was bringing in some of the gear from the Mass back to the sacristry/confessional/storage area (we make the best use of our spaces over here), he remarked that the group had decided that the pads were not needed.

When I asked why not, he replied: “Real men kneel on stone.”

This is my parish.

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  • At the village church I attended during my 3 months in India, there were only 3 pews in the back of the chapel where the elders would sit.  Everyone else kneeled on the concrete floor.  As difficult as it was to do, it gave me strength when I’d see old and young alike kneeling in prayer for as long as they wanted.  You eventually get used to it, but it’s not easy.

  • I bet when those every one of those Marines genuflect, their knee touches the floor!

  • I did a search on Fr. Michael R. Duesterhaus and was very pleased to find that he is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus and Faithful Friar of his Assembly.

    Dom… now that you have children… isn’t it time to make your 1st Degree?