Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Church Pet Peeves and What God Would Say

This weekend we had Baptismal Masses at our Church.

Masses like these, where we have many visitors, often challenge the patience God wills me to have.  Especially when I saw my "church pet peeves" all around me.

For example ... there were many people present who did not respect the Mass.  They talked during it, looked at their phones, and seemed to have no idea what was going on. 

What I said to myself:  It bothers me to no end that these people do not appreciate that they are in God's house and the miracle that takes place here.
What God would probably say to me:  At least they came to Mass, which is the first step.  Maybe they will be inspired by what they see ... perhaps your patience or helpfulness ... and come back.  What are you doing to make sure that happens?  Anything?

Then there was the gentleman that arrived during the Liturgy of the Eucharist (!) and wanted all of us to slide over so he could have a seat.

What I said to myself:  Sir, it might help to invest in a watch.
What God would probably say to me:  He would most likely remind me that there was a time when I would show up for Mass whenever I felt like it (although never that late).  Perhaps he would open one of the Missals to Matthew 20 and remind me of the Parable of the Workers.  

At this particular Mass, there were two adorable babies being Baptized.  As the two sets of parents and Godparents stood on the Altar, only one of them was smiling.  The other seven looked like they were thinking about a million other things.

What I said to myself:  What a beautiful occasion this is and look at these folks!  They look miserable.  Did they not read my last blog post?
What God would probably say to me:  Here is a mirror.  Try using it.  And while you're at it read John 8:7.

And of course, what pet peeve list would be complete without the crying baby.  We had one at this Mass, and she was crying so loud I could barely hear the Homily.

What I said to myself:  How hard is it to go to the crying room?  It is the one with the big glass window and all the babies in it. 
What God would probably say to me:  Open your Bible to Matthew 19:14.  My Son did not mind when children interrupted Him ... neither should you.  And besides ... that baby crying is the one you are supposedly welcoming into the Church today!

(I pray our forgiving Lord has more patience with me than I do with others!)

God Bless you.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Overheard at Mass

We had a visiting priest this weekend and to kick off his homily he threw this one at us:

"Here is my question for all of you here today.  If we are celebrating the Mass  ... and what Jesus did for us ... and are supposed to light up the world as his disciples ... then why does everyone look so miserable right now?"

(A quick glance around the Church was all I needed to realize the accuracy of what he had just said.)  

God Bless you - and may you light up the world better than we did on Sunday!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

3 Things About The Parable of The Two Sons

This weekend's Gospel includes the Parable of the Two Sons. 

Three things hit me as I reflected on it:

1)  One downside to hearing the Gospels in pieces like we do week to week (versus reading them straight through), is that I often lose sight of context.  It didn't dawn on me until later that, if you read Matthew's Gospel as chronological, Jesus is probably days away from His death when He tells this parable.  

2)  Similarly, it is easy to miss the connection between this passage, and one earlier in Matthew's Gospel where Jesus tells us "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one that does the will of my Father who is in Heaven."

3)  Every time I hear this reading my first reaction is to assume I am the son that does the right thing, even if he initially says the wrong thing.  In reality, I am probably more often like the son that says he will do the right thing, but then does not.  How many promises do I make to God that I don't follow up on? 

God Bless you.

P.S.  For those of you that missed it, our fellow blogger friend Victor has published a new book called The Priest and the Prostitute.  You can see the trailer (yes, there's a trailer!) for it here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

First, Last, and the iPhone 6

"Thus the last will be first, and the first will be last."
                         - Today's Gospel Mt 20:16

Unless you have been on media lockdown the past few days, you probably know that the iPhone 6 debuted, with long lines of people clamoring to be one of the first to get their hands on one.  This has been a normal occurrence when the latest i-gadget comes out.

I caught a soundbite from one of the late night talk show hosts, and while I cannot remember which one it was, the message certainly stuck with me.  

The host basically commented on what it must be like for a homeless person to see the lines of people sleeping outside for these gadgets.  The homeless people long to get off the streets, for a roof over their heads. The i-folks voluntarily leave their comfortable homes to sleep on the street to be one of the first ... and then fork over enough money for their gadget to pay for a months worth of food for the homeless person.

I am not one of those people that got an iPhone 6, but surely am guilty of similar decisions.  

God Bless you.

P.S.  For a more positive spin, check out how a charity in the UK used the iPhone 6 lines to raise money for the homeless.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let The Bells Ring

Last Sunday I was in Switzerland, and was having breakfast at a streetside cafe.  

At about 10 minutes before 9, I heard one of my favorite sounds ... church bells.  In my opinion, this sound is one of the best things about Europe.  Since many towns there were built around churches, you hear them almost everywhere you go - many times not only at the hour but half hour as well.  

But these bells were different.  They rang, and rang, and rang.  (Or is it tolled and tolled and tolled?)   About five minutes into the ringing, I looked at my watch and realized it was not the top of the hour, but merely five minutes of.  I was confused.  

As the bells continued their melodious song, I overheard a fellow tourist ask the waitress what the bells were for.  She replied "They let everyone know that Mass is going to start soon.  This way residents know they need to get going, and visitors know where to find the Church. They just need to follow the bells!"  

What a beautiful thought!  Imagine if all our Churches adopted this policy.  Rather than the 30 seconds of bells that signify Mass is starting in most of the U.S., what if they rang for a full 10 minutes, summoning everyone within earshot?  

Maybe more people would be on time for mass.  Or maybe, just maybe, a lost soul will find there way there for the first time ...

God Bless you.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Highs and Lows for Simon Peter

I'm going to keep to my Simon Peter theme for another week. 

Just last week, Matthew told us that Jesus glorified Peter as His Rock - the foundation He would build his Church on.  

As far as praise goes, that is about as good as it gets!  Peter must have been on top of the world hearing those words from our Savior.

But we know it was not all rainbows and sunny skies for Peter.  In this week's Gospel we hear the exact opposite.  

Our Lord lays one of the harshest insults possible on His Rock.  

He calls Him Satan. 

I'm sure once Peter figured out why he was getting yelled at, he felt the sting of that one. And such was life for Simon Peter.  A few steps forward, and then a few steps back.

Kind of reminds me of someone I know.  


As Shirley commented on my post last week, God did not choose a perfect man to lead His church.  He chose one with human weakness that was frequently on display.  One who stumbles often, but is given the strength to do better next time.  

It sure is inspirational, isn't it?  

I pray that our Lord blesses us with even half the strength that He gave Peter!

God Bless you.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Few Random Things about Simon Peter

In today's Gospel, Jesus refers to Peter as son of Jonah.  

Which got me thinking ... I know nothing about Jonah.  Well, I know about the Jonah of whale fame, but nothing about Jonah, (known as Jonas or John) the man that was the father of Simon Peter.  

I looked all over the internet for some information about this man, and the best I could find was that he was basically not the other Jonah.  

But I did come across some interesting information about St. Peter I thought I would share with you.  

  • For example, the house that he lived in is believed to still be standing today!  It is covered by a church but you can still see parts of it.
  • We know that Peter was from Bethsaida, of course, but I didn't realize how much Greek influence there probably was in that area at that time.  
  • Peter was, of course, a fisherman.  Fisherman back in Jesus' time often fished at night with torches.  They sometimes used dragnets - nets that were as long as 300 feet.  Two boats would go out to sea, each with an end of the dragnet, and then paddle in opposite directions to circle the fish and close up the net.  Alternatively they used cast nets - nets that had to be skillfully thrown so they landed open on the water.  This way, when they sunk down, they captured as many fish as possible.  (It is this method that Peter and the apostles were using on a few occasions in the Gospels)
  • It is possible that Peter, like his bother Andrew, was a disciple of John the Baptist.
  • Peter's name is mentioned in the new testament more than any other apostle - over 190 times.  That didn't surprise me, but the fact that that number is almost 4 times more than the next closest apostle (John) did.
  • Finally, Peter's name is almost always listed first when he is mentioned with anyone other than Jesus.  In fact, there is only one time it is not.  Galatians 2:9.

God bless.