I am in a new work setting this Lent and I am finding the behaviors of my co-workers very interesting. There are two ladies in my office that seem to be very concerned about the Fridays of Lent and their abstinence from meat on these days. While I think the sentiment is wonderful; I am curious as to the motivation behind it, and as I am thinking about this, it really hits home that they have no clue as to why they might want to abstain from meat. They are both “Catholic”, I guess if you want to call them that. They don’t go to Mass on Sunday, although I know that one of them might attend on Easter, you see the holiday is a big one for family celebration. They both acknowledge no need for Confession, and they participate in no activity that would help them to embrace and live their faith, as a matter of fact, they both use our dear Lord’s name as an expletive quite frequently. I find this very interesting indeed.
I also have quite a few “Catholic” Facebook friends who post pictures and comments about how they are working and attending the various fish fry events held throughout the area. Interestingly, many of these people send their kids to Catholic Schools, yet I never seem to see them at Mass, and I have even seen them posting comments in favor of and supporting issues such as same sex marriage, even partaking in these ceremonies and celebrations.
Our parish is celebrating the Stations of the Cross every Friday this season, I never seem to see any social media posts about that. We also have had a wonderful Mission put on by the Fathers of Mercy the past few years, not many pictures and posts on that either, or participation from the “Fish Fry Crowd”. Yet, you should see the pictures from the yearly Parish picnic at the local amusement park. I look at these pictures and can barely recognize anyone. We get maybe a dozen people at our book discussion clubs, and catechism classes, and there was maybe a half dozen people at Adoration this last week, but we have approximately 100 plus ladies scheduled to attend our Bunco fundraiser.
We truly are a people lost and with totally screwed up priorities, aren’t we? I am trying not to be judgmental, although I am finding that really difficult. It must make God so sad, that people don’t find joy in the sacraments, or don’t have a need to learn and grow spiritually so that they can know him better as a friend, a confidant, and a brother in Christ and a Father in Heaven. What is even more distressing, is I see these lost individuals questioning who they can turn to in times of trouble.
Yet, the answers are right there in front of them. These are not people unaware of the expectations of our Faith, they are just the ones that will pick and choose the aspects of our Faith they like and agree with, and they disregard the rest, just throw it away, in the trash; and they go about their lives as they see fit, not how God sees fit. They don’t like the conditions this answer will expect of them. They don’t like being held accountable. They assume they know best. They are after all spending tens of thousands of dollars on Catholic education for their kids. They will prioritize this; yet Sunday Mass and the Eucharist, which are free, get ignored. I don’t understand how they can’t get it. How can they not know, what true gifts they are declining. They are pillaging and usurping the superficial aspects of the Faith, and dismissing the truly miraculous. This seems a bit hypocritical to me, and may be even bordering on blasphemous.
Matthew 23:17 "You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?”
How do we get through to them?
There seems to be many people that don’t understand that giving themselves up to God, in a selfless, total, and humble way will lead to such great joy. It is a greater joy than the pleasure ever to be found in a fish fry or Bunco event. I know first hand, I spent the first 45 years of my life subscribing to the same philosophy. Five years ago, before my re-conversion I was a mess. I may have had a one up on many of the people I am referring to, I was still practicing the Faith every week, just in a superficial and not devot way, and I too subscribed to Cafeteria Catholicism. I am not insulting the importance of Parish social events, just that they should not be what we center everything on. The privilege that most people forsake on Sunday, or even daily, is a gift of such magnitude that a mere human brain cannot even fathom or wrap a head around it. Maybe that is the problem. It takes a humble heart to absorb the spirit of God fully, some are just unwilling to yield, preferring the pleasures and desires of this world instead. Enjoying the trendiness or novelty of fish on Fridays, and the fun and festiveness of a Friday Lenten fish fry, instead of the humility and thoughtfulness given to the Stations of the Cross Service held a few blocks away.
I will be working that Bunco event tonight at my parish, but right before I walk over to serve up coffee to women who seem to place their most important priority on a Saturday night party, I will be singing my heart out to the Lord as a cantor at our Saturday evening vigil Mass. Maybe some of them will hear the praise and glory transpiring in the church and worship space of the building as they arrive. Then maybe a smile, or a small symbolic crucifix around the neck, will spark a desire to seek the Truth, dive al inl, and find what truly bestows joy and fellowship. I hope so, that will be and is my mission.