But he still persisted:
"Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.
What if there are at least ten there?"
He replied, "For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it."
Surely the "sins" of the people in this parish can't compare to those of Sodom and Gomorrah? As I watched the 70- and 80-year-old people serving at the altar and worshiping at the pews, the worst mistake I could see was their refusing to flee to suburbia with the rest of the Catholics who once worshiped beside them (if not fleeing the Church completely). Is it because they failed to instill the faith in their children? Perhaps. Being a parent has created great empathy in me, though...I see that you can try mightily to instill the faith in your children but if there is little leadership to educate and society pressing in on all sides, it becomes a very difficult task.
The church was not air-conditioned (remember when none of them were?) and our little ones were less than happy to sit and swelter. How kind of God to send a Missionary priest to talk about his life on the Amazon, preaching to people who see a priest perhaps a few times each year. "Because they see us so rarely," Father said, "I spend as much time as possible with them...administering Sacraments and just talking to and being with them." It did provide a wealth of discussion for the ride home but it also stirred up some anger in me.
When did we become such a self-centered, spoiled, arrogant people? Why are the churches in the "poor" neighborhoods closing while the "not-poor" neighborhoods are building mega-churches or pouring millions of dollars into their showplaces? Church hopping is all the rage, have you noticed? "To which parish do you belong?" is often met with "Well, we're registered at St. X but we go to different parishes depending on the priest and the Mass times" or, and I was told this directly, "My envelopes go to your parish but I go somewhere else." Now it is especially poignant to shop for the places with air-conditioning or padded seats. Of course, Mass has to fit a time that is convenient with our other Sunday activities.
Before you think it's a preachy thing, we attend our home parish about 65% of the time for Sunday Mass. Holy days, Holy hours, weekday Masses are almost exclusively there. So, we do it too. Clearly not for padded seats or ac though. Why then? I suppose because "everyone else does it" and I'm unclear that "sticking it out with your home church" is beneficial in the long run to my children's spiritual well-being. There are the faith-filled people (who attend weekday Mass and holy hours) and staff that keep us from leaving completely but there is also a sense of and focus on worldly things that should be tempered by sitting in a hot church listening to a Missionary priest with an elderly population that comes because they want to, not because they are required. Redemptive suffering doesn't seem to be talked about much these days so we are making sure it is brought into conversation whenever possible. Christ didn't have a padded, air-conditioned cross...no one let him ride a donkey to Calvary and get a parking space up front before He was crucified. Heaven help us when the persecution begins in earnest. How many of us will run away to a more comfortable, convenient situation?
God is good in all things. I took this picture before we went in for Mass
|An excellent father-son afternoon|
|and swag too ;0)|
We are blessed.