Saturday, November 18, 2006

Putting things into Perspective

Fr. Jim has a very good post up. Essentially, a lady was talking to him about her husband who was publicly humiliated for some minor point of grievance. The lady's husband, apparently quite a devout man, has quit going to Church. Fr. Jim hit the nail on the head right here:

"Why do we worship God? Why do we hear Mass? Why do we continue as Catholics, rather than become Jews, or Baptists, or Muslims, or whatever? In Whom do we put our faith? I think those are questions that all of us should seriously ask ourselves periodically. There are probably a number of ways that we could phrase our response, but one answer that is certainly 100% wrong is that we have faith in Father So-and-so, and that we believe in God because Father says so, and that we are in the Church because Father is so wonderful. Or Sister, or the bishop, or His Holiness, or our dear sainted German grandmother. God alone is perfect: everyone else is bound to fall short. And when the one we've placed on the pedestal falls, our faith (if it depends on another human person) is likely to fall, too. God knows, if I gave up my religion every time some stupid priest offended me, I'd have become a pagan a long time ago."

I'm no fan of public humiliation, but even the most embarrassing incident has to be put into perspective. God wants and deserves your presence at Mass. Ideally, you're surrounded by friends and family who are all come to do the same thing: worship God. Quite a few people can share stories of little churches out in the country where every one knows everyone else; where you're practically disallowed from not being knit into the proverbial fabric of the parish's life.

However, often times it's not that way and you're surrounded by people who are just other people to you, and quite often there are people there who you wish weren't. In this gentleman's case, it's the danged priest celebrating the Mass up on the altar and a few dozen folks nervously looking over at you for a variety of reasons.

It sucks, but so does life. Look beyond the very real but oh so temporary discomforts of embarrassment and forward to the love of and for the glory of God. "Blessed are you when people hate you, and revile you, and utter every kind of evil against you for my name's sake. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven." (Lk 6:22-23)

With all possible compassion towards this man, but is quitting going to Mass putting you (and I use the term collectively) and the wound you are nursing before God or after him. Aren't you deciding that your own embarrassment is more important than worshipping God and renewing the covenant of Christ's blood through the sacrament of the Eucharist?

I'm not an eighty year old man who is very wise and who can lend an entirely new meaning to someone's struggles with a one-liner, but God knows that this is a hard thing to do. But so long as you believe in the mediation of Christ and His Body of believers who establish their own mediatorship in Christ, you are never alone. There isn't a saint, I believe, who can't relate to what this gentlemen must feel. I also believe, however, that there isn't a saint who can't help. It's all in the prayer. Prayer will never solve all your problems, but it will help you to accept and to deal with them. In a world like this, we can use all the help there is, can't we?

Fr. Jim also noted somethin which I, having lived there, can certainly vouch for, and this is that there are about a bazillion other parishes within throwing distance in the Arlington Diocese. It only makes skipping out on Mass more illogical. But I'm going to pose another question, and this is one that I find myself trying to deal with so much that I'm sick of thnking about it. This is, what if you're pushed up against the wall with no other choice really. Translating this hypothesis to this situation, what if there weren't so many other parishes to go to? Would you (again, collectively speaking) be able to suck it up and go despite everything? In parts of the world, and this has been the case for two-thousand years, you're simply not afforded that comfort. So what would you do? That's a question I think everyone should ask themselves.

If you're like me, the honest result is probably not what it should be. Again, prayer prayer prayer. The Mother of God followed along and stood there while her Son died in a manner that was not only reserved for the lowest sort of criminals, but which was also publicly humiliating. I think she would understand our plight if we went to her asking for greater will and resolution and integrity. Go to Mary, I say, like the servants at the wedding feast did when they ran into trouble with a lack of wine. She will never fail to lead us to her divine Son, in Whom is found the source of all consolation.