Summer is a wonderful season. Every season has its hopeful signs. Spring is uplifting with the lift in temperatures and the greening of the landscape, fall has the beauty of leaves turning color and a haunting aroma, and winter has its crisp air and freshly fallen snow. Summer is unique because it is a time of being outdoors in ways that the other seasons do not encourage.
There was a song from my ancient past which praised the “ lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” Recently I went for a walk on a Sunday afternoon. Usually I walk in the early morning with few stirring about. So it was with great delight to see family and friends and especially youth outdoors and together playing sports, fishing, chatting and picnicking. Happy folks enjoying themselves in simple summer ways prompted me to recall the summers of my youth.
For many years we picked raspberries on a farm operated by a wonderful Catholic family of immigrants from Italy. When our pay increased from six cents a quart to seven cents we felt rich. At the end of the fruit bearing season we were served a hearty home-made Italian meal. When the matriarch passed away and her son took over it became less an occasion of joy and more of a business. The business soon closed but the happy memories remain.
My siblings and I were raised by our grandparents. My grandfather worked in greenhouses and helped develop new varieties of roses. Our house was full of roses as they were tested for beauty and longevity.
The company my grandfather worked for maintained a public rose garden. Each year there was a rose festival for which my grandmother would take the roses my grandfather grew and create beautiful bouquets and crowns for the little girls who competed for rose princess. I helped out in various ways, though not always willingly. Though the garden has become an apartment complex, whenever I see a rose, which is a sign of life, happy memories of those family summer moments return.
The village I grew up in and surrounding towns housed canning factories. As a result vegetable and fruit would be trucked on our streets. How devilishly fun (but unsafe) it was to run out and grab a few low hanging vines laden with pea pods as the trucks drove through. To this day peas in a pod are among of my favorite snacks, though none have the splendid taste as they did when I was nine.
These memories seem about such simple and little things, and they are. It is often the little things that impact and form us and reform us after we fall.
To read the full story click HERE.
If you wish to do what Jesus did…do not expect to get in with the “in” crowd. Chances are you will find yourself left out in the cold. Get ready to be given less than cute nicknames and to be ridiculed (just as we see in this week’s Gospel from Mark).
The “in” crowd, you see, only plays by its rules. Their people are into what looks nice, what feels good, what seems (to themselves) true. But, as a Christian, you play by God’s rules, by His 10 Commandments. You are into what is beautiful, what is good, and what is true…and none of it is found in the fleeting and artificial world of the “in” crowd.
If you wish to do what Jesus did, you will have to start noticing those whom the “in” crowd ignores. They are the ones who have been told that they are an outsider, that they don’t matter, that they don’t belong. They are the ones who don’t meet the “in” crowd’s standard of worth and weight, color and creed, health and honor. They are today’s lepers, the ones who are deemed unclean, unfit, and unacceptable. But, these “outsiders” are the very ones whom Jesus willed to touch and to heal (cf. Mk. 1:41), those whom He took out of the cold and brought back into the safety of God’s house.
Because Jesus did this, it became “impossible for [Him] to enter a town openly”. Because He reached out to outsiders, He Himself became an outsider (cf. Mk. 1:45).
If you wish to do what Jesus did, you too will find yourself being an outsider like Him. You will be put down for standing up for what you believe. You will be discouraged by those who have too much for wasting what little you have to those who have less. You will get pushed out for taking in those whom the “in” crowd rejects.
But, if you wish to do what Jesus did, you can no longer operate according to the dictates of that “in” crowd. You will have to conduct yourself according to the demands of the Gospel. As he once told the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:31), so St. Paul reminds you today: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” What you do for yourself and what you do for others should reflect the glory of God. How you spend your money and how you vote should reflect the glory of God. How you live and how you die should reflect the glory of God. What you do out in the open and even what you do in the privacy of your bedroom should reflect the glory of God. You see, for a Christian Catholic, there is no such thing as a vacation from God (there is no day off from doing His will). The light of Christ that you have received is not something that you are supposed to turn off like a switch. So, when Paul says to “do everything for the glory of God,” he meant everything and not just some things. He meant that in everything you say, in everything you think, and in everything you do…you better put God first.
This is what makes you an outsider in the eyes of the “in” crowd. It is what sets you apart from the ‘children of this age’. It is what makes you a stranger to what is popular, what keeps you estranged from the rest of the populace. You are part of the Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27) and those who belong to His family prefer neither politics nor profit, neither a bailout nor a sellout, nothing else over His love (cf. Rule of St. Benedict).
Did you know…in the teaching of the Catholic Church…all baptized persons are called to evangelize? It’s true! This is a teaching that came out of the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago that highlights the understanding: in the Church there is diversity of ministry, but unity of mission (best known today as “the Universal Call (vocation) to Holiness”).
We, the baptized, make up the Church, which is also known as the Mystical Body of Christ. And while we live out our lives in one of three different vocations (married, single or ordained/religious)…and in a wide variety of professions…each one of us is called to bring the Gospel message of Jesus to the world!
We refer to the four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as Evangelists because they shared the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ through their written word. By the Sacrament of Baptism, we have all been given that same mission, which is to inform others about God and bring them to Him. This can be done through writing, but it’s more likely to be done through speaking to others, and simply by living a good, holy life and letting your actions and choices declare to all those around you of your love for the Lord and the Church.
This is a great time of year to reflect on your mission and consider who in your circle of family, friends and coworkers you could: share your faith with…telling them how important it is to have a living and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. (Some of you have already done this by standing up for a child as a godparent or sponsor.)
Few of you have the honor of being a sponsor of someone who came into the Church through the RCIA process. (And, it is a process of inquiry and discovery. It is not of process of uncertainty and conformity as some think.) There are many other people who’ve yet to experience, or have fallen away from, the grace and mercy of God as we know it in the Catholic Church. Please begin (or continue) the very important work of evangelizing those around you.
Invite them to attend at the 7:00-8:30 PM get-together (day of the week to be determined) in the church basement for the RCIA classes that will be starting in October (or to attend Mass).
Just think how amazing it would be if at Easter…someone you invited…decided to join our Catholic celebrations and faith! It’s very possible, you know. God wants everyone to be together in the Church established by His Son.
Since you will be seeing friends and family during holiday (and vacation) time…think about bringing those who are away from the Church back home. And be like Jesus who is ridiculed when He brings death to life. Close out those who are preventing you to evangelize (like Jesus did in today’s gospel). Invitation Cards are available in the vestibule. Let’s use the special graces available in this coming Year of Mercy to carry out our mission of evangelizing others so they come to know and love and serve Almighty God.
In his book Render Unto Caesar, Archbishop Charles Chaput (now in Philadelphia) points out that too few Catholics living in Germany in the 1930’s listened to the warning of the then Pope Pius XI, who told them, “What is morally indefensible can never contribute to the good of the people.”
He was referring to the way Adolph Hitler, as the political leader of Germany, was gathering up all the Jews and many Catholics: practicing unethical human experimentation, enslaving them in concentration camps, murdering them in gas chambers and then burning their bodies in huge furnaces.
Did Hitler have a bright vision for the German people, that they would one day be world leaders? Yes.
Did Hitler’s plan give jobs to most of the German people so they could make a living for their families by making war supplies? Yes.
The only problem was that Hitler’s plan included the grave moral evil of genocide…the mass extermination of the Jewish people and any others deemed “inhuman”. Nevertheless, because of fear, ignorance and selfishness, many Germans looked the other way when it came to the evils that Hitler was advocating. Not only were innocent, defenseless people being tortured and murdered; but, also, he was having his doctors perform all kinds of experimentation on the Jewish captives.
Pope Pius XI scolded the people who allowed this, saying: “Thousands of voices ring in your ears a false gospel which has not been revealed by the Father in Heaven.” (Mit Brennender Sorge, 1937) Here we are…70 years later…and we as a people still struggle in having solidarity when it comes to life and liberty. As we approach our 239th year of celebrating our freedom as a nation (…given to us “by a group of old white men”…as the nescient proclaim), it would be a good time to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson (who helped draft our Country’s Declaration of Independence and who served as the Third President of America), when he said: “The God who gave us Life, gave us Liberty!”
How wonderful that the Founding Fathers of our country recognized God as the Giver of these great gifts, which we have enjoyed, and which we hope to preserve for the future. Sadly, there are Americans running at every level of public office with plans which oppose God and life and liberty!
As Catholics of the 21st century, we must close our ears to the false gospel of the world and follow the Gospel of the Father in Heaven. He said, “You shall not kill.” And Jesus, “You must protect the widow and the orphan.” We simply cannot celebrate a government which endorses abortion (the murder of babies in the womb), euthanasia (the murder of seniors and the sick), or experimentation on human embryos. Starting this Father’s Day, let us pray for the vision of those old white men who saw the greatness of man in the sanctity and wholeness of the human person. For the sacrifices of all those who gave us our comforts and leisure (in comparison to theirs)…take time…for each of the next 14 days (a fortnight)…to visit the church and Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and pray for our confused country listening to yet another false gospel.
Schedule of Events
11:00-12:15 p.m. Mass with Bishop Swain
12:15-1:00 p.m. Guest Speaker – Deacon Steve McLaughlin & Fr. Wayne Carroll Paysse
1:00-2:30 p.m. Picnic Luncheon
1:00-3:15 p.m. Tours of Campus and Monument, Processional to the Cemetery,
Presentation by Sister Pat, Special Music by Broken Walls
Our Easter celebrations are complete. The celebrations are over and we put the party favors away for another year. The Sunday Mass (the little Easters) is our remembrance of the party which (hopefully) is seen as our spiritual center. We can catch our breath and reflect where we were…and where we are now…on the spiritual journey (and grow further up and further in).
We typically spend about an hour together listening to God and beseeching God as a community of Catholic believers. Is that too long? I remember reading a newspaper article sometime back that noted:
“Some churches struggling with shrinking attendance are shortening their traditional Sunday services, promising to get a generation with limited attention spans out the door in less than 30 minutes.”
You know, when millions of people can stay in their stadium seat or sit glued to a TV at home to watch a 3-hour football game, I fail to agree with the assertion that this generation is suffering from a limited attention span.
What this generation is suffering from is a limited faith. Yes, thanks to many factors such as: broken homes, Godless colleges/schools and a general abandonment of good moral behavior in society, no seed of faith in an unseen God is being planted and nurtured in the hearts of our generation. And, as a result, some have no interest and no desire for a gathering with God. Shortening a Sunday service will have no effect on getting the young back into Church. They’re not staying away because they have limited attention…they’re staying away because they haven’t yet felt the love and the mercy of God!
Once people experience God, they want more…not less time to be with Him in the Sacred Liturgy. The article I refer to mentioned that the Catholic Church:
“has long accommodated hurried worshippers at daily Mass.”
What the Catholic Church has done for centuries on weekdays has nothing to do with catering to peoples limited attention spans…it has to do with their limited time!
Many people who seek a daily union with God in the Mass are bound by their start time at work or school. A shorter Mass enables them to attend and still get to their next stop on time. Sunday, if taken as a day of rest, has no such obstacles. Each Daily Mass still has a Liturgy of the Word and a Liturgy of the Eucharist…they’re just shorter. The homily is still present in weekday Mass…it’s 2 – 3 minutes as compared to 12 – 15 minutes on Sundays.
In a recent poll of practicing Catholic women, 75% of them stated that they get all of their moral direction for their lives from…the Homily at Mass! If that’s true, then the homily should be longer, not shorter! I promise that you will not see our weekend Masses shortened at our Parish! And my prayer will be, if I doing my job right, that you’ll soon be asking for the Mass to be longer…not shorter!