Sunday, May 21, 2017
"IF" you love Me, you will keep my Commandments and THEN My Father will love him and we'll make our home with him.
And don't let anyone tell you anything different. Not even if a Pope, God help him, tries to caricature the tools of salvation as ideological fanaticism. Just a reminder from today's Gospel.
In a little bit of personal news, I recently sold my home and moved to a place that's about 60 miles from my beloved city of Boston. For the first time in my life, I don't live in the Archdiocese of Boston. (Though I will still be reporting on the shenanigans!)
It's a little unsettling to make a move from your spiritual home. There's a lot of work and high blood pressure involved in finding a parish where the priests keep all the Mz. Wearthepants and the poor uncatechized under their tutelege in check, celebrate a reverent Holy Sacrifice and keep the Protestant converts from turning the mission into the town's welcome wagon.
In this period of our history, I find all the work only leads to a temporary reprieve. The place goes up for grabs when a good shepherd moves on. Even most of the good shepherds are building consensus with ambiguity, cult of personality and religious entertainment. When he goes, whatever shtick the next leader has gets instantaneous traction. But at least when you have familiarity with your diocese, you know where all the landmines are and avoid them.
I really lucked out. I'm in one of the best parishes for practicing Catholics in the Commonwealth. You don't realize how the number of small things we let go of make such a huge impact.
In most parishes, there are a couple of handfuls of Catholics who are practicing living every day in a state of Sanctifying Grace and trying to teach their family and loved ones to do the same. We sit in the pews struggling for oxygen. We break our necks to juggle our chores and commitments to make to the hour a week the priest dedicates to the Sacrament to Reconciliation. More often than not, the priest isn't even sitting in the Confessional during the hour a week set aside for the Sacrament that absolves his people's sins. He's in the Sacristy or office counting the money or candles. When you finally find him and ask him to go back into the Confessional, he looks like he's just encountered the town's Tyrannosaurus Rex. He acts flustered an annoyed that time is being taken from what he's doing. And this happens with our orthodox priests!
This is the world most of us live in. We settle for validity of Sacraments in a place we at least won't hear heresy and we call it good. The people who attend Mass act like the walking dead. They're looking for a 30 minute Mass where they can stumble in and vocalize their disinterest and boredom with their prayers and the Sacred Liturgy and put the pedal to the metal heading to the greasy spoon for Sunday morning bacon and eggs and back home to mow their lawn.
The Catholicity of my new parish blew me away. The dynamic of people saying prayers like they are communicating in their loving relationship with Christ, there were about 40 women wearing mantillas at the Novus Ordo, everyone was well-dressed for the banquet, excellent catechesis in the homilies, vespers on Sunday night, 24 hour adoration, priest-led consecration to Christ through Mary, etc.
The place is rocking. Every Mass is filled to the rafters.
The difference between this and orthodox priests building consensus with cult of personality is - wait for it...Confessions before EVERY MASS! A half hour of confessions, sitting in the chair, before every Mass so that every person who needs confession has it available to them at a time they can make it work on a consistent basis. Every person knows the priest puts the absolution of sin as his number one priority. There is no chasing him around the sanctuary and giving you the stinkeye when you catch up to him. It is a steady flow of Sanctifying Grace that survives the tenure of the priest.
When I've mentioned this to priests, they immediately fly into a sob story about time management does not allow dedicated time for the absolution of sins when people can actually come.
We've got to work harder to get traction on this. It's worth making our number one priority.