Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Sense of the Sacred

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!” (Mark 9:5)

I like to repeat Peter's profession of faith whenever I am in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, whether it before Masss or in Adoration. Peter was right; why would we want to be anywhere else? Unfortunately for Peter, his heavenly vision and moment of pure bliss also abruptly ended. While I don't claim to experience ecstasy as some saints have, I do feel that I am on Holy ground when in His presence. Usually, I only get a few precious moments of prayer before I have to prepare my music or tend to a child so I try to make the most of my time.

Attending a different Mass this weekend, filling in as cantor, I made it a point to go early so to take advantage of the sacrament of confession being offered. There were only about a dozen or so people in the church, mainly of an older generation, so one would think it would be a great time for prayer. One would think...

Ecstasy? Not even close. I spent my time praying for my own patience from the loud conversations, the man chastising the young mother and her son for sitting in "his pew," and a woman yelling across the aisle at another man for allegedly cutting her off at the confessional when she was nowhere near it.

 Why do people think that the church is a social club? His pew??? Cut me off? Are you kidding me???

 I was at first hoping for a cleansing of the temple moment but instead tried to focus on my prayer: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Jesus' words from the cross also seemed appropriate asking forgiveness for they "know not what they do."  (Luke 23:34)

Shouldn't they, though?

I am no better a sinner, I admit, but sometimes it seems as if no one knows why they are there. The youth get blamed a lot for this but they are not always the culprits. Many have also grown up without being taught (which is a topic for another day). But these were adults, old enough to know better, and from a generation who came of age in a sort of golden age of American Catholicism. This was a time when churches were full, vocations were plentiful, and you dare not make a sound in church of there would consequences when you got home (so my my parents told me).

I'm not trying to single out a particular age group but my recent experience was jut an eye opener to a larger problem in our parishes. We forget who is present in the tabernacle, the awesome miracle of the consecration, and the amazing gift of the Eucharist. The next time we visit a church or attend Mass, let's try to remember that we are guests in God's house and focus on Him, rather than ourselves. Let's get back that sense of the sacred and like St. Peter, truly know how good it is that we are there.

Be blessed!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fruits of Their Labor

The LORD said to Abram: Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.  (Genesis 12:1)

I came across this retro-tourism video today on Facebook. It chronicles the growth of my home city of Fall River from a small agrarian town to one of the largest producers of cotton textiles in the world in the 19th century. (Thank you to the Fall River History Club.
The Fabric of Fall River

It portrays the arrival of many immigrant communities with the promise of prosperity working in the mills.  My family is French-Canadian and thats exactly why many of them came here. Like Abraham, they left everything they knew to travel to what they perceived as the Promised Land. Over time they built the communities we have today from houses to shops, and espicially magnificent churches, Being Labor Day today, let's reflect one the struggles and sacrifice our grandparents and great-grandparents made. They had faith in God's Providence (Mt. 6:25-34) so that they and their progeny could have a better life. I know I'm thankful.

Be blessed. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Doers and Not Just Hearers

I can't believe today is already September 1st. What happened to June, July, and August? Living in New England all my life, I've always noticed a distinct change in the air once Labor Day passes. I think it's God's way of turning our attention from the lazy days of summer and getting back into the more on-task routines of autumn. 

The Church gives us a great reminder this weekend to get more on-task with how we live our faith as well. In the Second Reading, St. James reminds us that as the "firstfruits" of God's creation, we've been given a divine gift and have an obligation to care for the temporal and spiritual needs of others. 

Dearest brothers and sisters: All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.
Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:to care for orphans and widows in their affliction 
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.   James 1: 17-18, 21b-22, 27

As St. James tells us later on: Faith of itself, without works is dead (2:17) we must do more than hear God's word, we have to put it into action as well. Many church ministries are starting back up this time of year so you might consider getting involved in one of them (I suggest choir) or go back to volunteering in a youth program or soup kitchen. How we choose to glorify God is up to us. The key thing is that we do something and become doers, not just hearers. 

Many of us will take a break from our work tomorrow to celebrate Labor Day. Let's not forget to give thanks to God for our livelihoods and remember our brothers and sisters who are desperately looking for work in these difficult economic times. Maybe that will help us think twice about cursing at the alarm clock when Tuesday morning rolls around. Let us give thanks to the Lord of our work and continue to do the Work of the Lord.

Have a blessed Labor Day Weekend.