Monday, December 15, 2014

Why We Don't Applaud at Mass

This weekend, our Pastor took a few moments to teach the confirmation candidates a few things about the Mass.

I enjoy these lectures, mainly because I can learn all the stuff I should already know under the guise of it being "for the children."

In any case, one of the kids asked him why we don't applaud at Mass.  Like after the choir sings, or a reader is finished.  (Or, as our Pastor added, "when the homily is over".)

His answer was quite simple.  Those "performances" are not for us.  We tend to forget that everything we do at Mass is to worship God.  He is the audience.  

And as our Pastor remarked ... "If God wants to applaud, He is more than welcome to!"

I'm really glad he reminds us the children of things like that because we they tend to forget.

God Bless you (and praying that God applauds our performances this week!).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Week of Mary

It's funny how God works.  

Mary was everywhere I turned this week leading up to the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.

Last week there was a 30 page booklet at our church about Fatima.  I picked it up, read it cover to cover, and was enlightened and inspired by the words of Our Lady of Fatima.  

I had one of those TV music channels on while I read the booklet - set to classic Christmas music - and Ave Maria came on.  Ave Maria is one of my favorite songs, and I have never heard it come on during that, or any other, Christmas playlist. 

Then, during the week, I was at a study group where we watched Fr. Robert Barron's video on ... who else?  Mary.  

During that video, he touched on many things related to our Blessed Mother.  One of the more difficult topics he covered was around the many apparitions associated with her.  He explained the reasons some are accepted by the Church, and others are not.  Our class spent a good deal of time focused on one of the criteria - whether people's lives were changed with increased devotion or spiritual benefit.  

During that discussion I developed a new appreciation for Our Lady of Guadalupe.  (For those that are not familiar with this event, you can read more here.)  I never realized the impact that she had on the world.  Millions of Aztecs converted to Catholicism in a very short period of time - so much so that Mexico very quickly became a Catholic nation.  Today, 82% of the country is still Catholic, and its 92+ million Catholics rank only behind Brazil.  

Finally, I watched a movie on EWTN called Mary of Nazareth.  While many scenes in the movie were not directly from the Gospels, they certainly made me think about all the interactions between Mary and Jesus that were never recorded - and the love and pain that went along with that.  

In any case, I hope you are as inspired on this Feast Day as I am.  And I pray that Our Mother continues to intercede for us.

God Bless you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What the Servant with Two Talents Shows Us

Jesus gives us many lessons through the Parable of Talents.

He teaches us about servitude, expectations, judgement and hard work.  

But it dawned on me this weekend that we normally spend most of our reflections thinking about the superstar servant that delivered 10 talents back to his master, and the poor sap that only returned the one he was given.  

We never talk about the middle servant.

But he teaches us an important lesson about God.  

The middle servant only delivers his master 2 talents, versus 5 for his counterpart.  On a value basis, that is much less. 

But on a percentage basis it is exactly the same 100% return!  And if you notice, the master gives the exact same praise to him as he does the servant that returns 5 talents.   

The master did not give them all the same amount of talents (money) just as God does not give us all the same amount of talent (ability, skills, strengths, etc).  

But just like the master in the parable, God does not expect us to return the same total value to Him.  He does, however, expect us to deliver the most that we can based on what we were given.  

As a society, however, we tend to gauge how we are doing by comparing ourselves to others.  Are we going to church more than others?  Do we do more volunteer work than others?  Have we given as much as others?

But the middle servant reminds us that we should instead be determining if we are giving God a 100% return on what He has given us.

God Bless you.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Indifference


I've mentioned on this blog before that I believe one of the greatest threats to our faith is not other religions.  It is not naysayers. 

It is indifference.

Indifference is one of the saddest things I see happening around us today.  There is no passion for our Lord.  No fervent belief and evangelization.  No prioritization of God's will over our own.

The world is simply going about on its own earthly way.

Take, for example, this very sad article I came across the other day.

It was entitled Atheist scientist claims religion will be gone in a generation.


The article quotes a scientist who said "Change is always a generation away.  So if we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion will go away in our generation... And that is what I think we have an obligation to do."

I must admit, I cringed when I read the word "obligation".  What a horrible thought.  But that was not the part that scared me, especially after the article mentions that countries have tried in the past to eradicate religion ... only to watch it come back stronger. 

The part that scared me most was the statistic that 25 years ago, only 5 percent of the U.S. population identified themselves as non-religious.  Today, that number is up to 20 percent.  However, if you isolate people between the ages of 18-25, that number jumps to 30 percent.

Thirty percent. 

That number isn't because someone mandated an end to religion. It is not because someone felt an obligation.

In my opinion, it is because society is becoming indifferent.

And not enough people are trying to change that.

God Bless you, and please pray for the conversion of many.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Instead of Reading A Post From Me...

... please consider taking the next 2 minutes and join me in saying a Decade of the Rosary for those souls who have no one to pray for them.

Thank you and God Bless.

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!