Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fifteen Percent

That is the percentage of Catholics - defined as all who were baptized - in our diocese that attend Mass weekly.

Fifteen percent.

Now I know that the Northeast tends to have the lowest attendance rate in the United States, but fifteen percent is still awfully depressing.   (I don't even want to think about what that number looks like if you take out those over 60 and under 18.) 

Interestingly enough, two weeks ago when we read the "Doubting Thomas" passage (Jn 20), I felt a strong parallel to those that were not at Mass.  Thomas had a hard time believing because he was not around the risen Jesus, or those that were celebrating Him.  He missed out on the joy and love they felt that day.

It's the same for the 85% of those that are not at Mass each week, hearing the Word and receiving the Eucharist.   

And so I continue to pray for them.  Not only because their eternal future depends on it, but because I want them to feel the overwhelming love and joy that Mass can bring. 

Sure, many of them think their lives are just fine without it.

But I doubt it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


St. Peter walks into a bar and overhears Michael talking to the bartender. 

Michael:  The world just doesn't seem fair anymore, does it?  I mean, lots of good people are unemployed or underemployed. People are watching helplessly as their homes lose value bit by bit.  It costs a fortune to fill a gas tank.  And all these natural disasters that are happening ....

Bartender:  Oh I know, it's terrible isn't it?  The future doesn't seem so fair either.  I mean, we're all going to get stuck paying for all these deficits.  I'm probably not going to get social security like my parents did.  And don't even get me started about the NFL ... we might have to go all winter without seeing a game!  How is that fair?

St. Peter:  I'm sorry to interrupt gents, but I overheard you talking about fairness, and I don't think you know what unfair is.  If I can paraphrase myself in the second reading today ... Jesus didn't do a single thing wrong.  NOT ONE SINGLE THING!  And He was beaten and killed. Brutally. For all the bad stuff you did.  And will do.  Does that seem fair to you?  DOES IT?  

Michael:  Well ... 

St Peter:  How bad do YOUR things sound now?

Michael: Well .... I guess I'm a bit embarrassed.

St. Peter:  Listen, it's ok.  You're human.  I just wanted to give you some perspective so you don't get so down.  Whether those things are (air quotes) fair or unfair (air quotes) is irrelevant.  The future is bright because Jesus accepted the most unfair sentence in the history of the world.  

Bartender:  (smiling)  You're right.  Thanks for that.  Drinks are on the house.  What can I get ya?

St. Peter:  Nothing for me, thanks.  I have to be going.  (looking around and patting pockets)  Anyone seen my keys?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Is God Your Best Friend?

I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Fr. James Martin a while ago.   Fr. Martin is the author of My Life With the Saints among other books, and a very insightful, very funny speaker.   

One of the questions he asked us was whether we considered God to be our best friend.

The question caught many of us off guard.  I mean, God is .... God!  He's in charge.  He's the rule-maker.  He's the Guy we are trying not to upset.   And yes, He loves us and we love Him.  But many of us had never thought about "lowering" Him to the seemingly-too-human "friend" status.  

But for those that answered "Yes, He is my best friend", Fr. Martin posed the following questions:

1)  Do you listen as much as you talk?  How many best friends do you know of where one person talks and talks and never listens?

2)  Do you give as much as you ask?  How many best friends do you know of where one person is constantly asking for things?

3)  Do you laugh together?  Have you ever heard anyone say "Yes, Bob is my best friend ... but we've never laughed together the whole time I've known him"

I thought those were some very insightful points.  

And they left me wondering what was worse ...  that I hadn't  thought about God as my best friend ... or that I would be the worst best friend ever!

God Bless.