Auto racing is very popular in the United States. NASCAR races, such as the Daytona 500, are the largest spectator sporting events in America. And, of course, there is the grand-daddy of them all, the Indianapolis 500. There is another auto sport that is very popular in our country. This competition is filled with screeching tires, burning rubber, and the high-speed daring that racing fans love. This particular event takes place in multiple locations across the nation every Sunday morning. It’s called the Catholic 500.
If you ever begin to doubt the existence of God, don’t despair. There is surefire proof that He is real. Just visit your church on Sunday morning. Right after Mass, carefully observe the parking lot (from a safe distance, of course). Considering how aggressive Catholic drivers are, and how impatient they are to get out of the church parking lot as soon as humanly possible, the fact that we don’t have multiple car crashes and dozens of fatalities each and every week demonstrates beyond a doubt that God is real and He is protecting us. Without His divine protection, our parish parking lots would look like a demolition derby event, strewn with battered Buicks, mangled Mazdas, and crumpled Chryslers.
Why is it we’re in such a hurry to get out of the church parking lot immediately after Mass is over? Well, actually, many folk don’t even wait until Mass is over. Somewhere along the line, they’ve convinced themselves that it’s perfectly acceptable to receive Communion and then instead of returning to the pew, they just continue walking right out the door and into the parking lot, where they can jump into the car, start the engine, and then … sit there and wait because other cars are blocking their exit path. They end up steaming with frustration, waiting for Mass to be over, and the bottom line is, they don’t get out any sooner than if they had returned to the pew after Communion and focused for a few moments on the awesome fact that the Lord has shared His own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, with them.
Why is it so many Catholics these days seem determined to lose whatever grace they may have received at Mass by acting like Dale Earnhardt once they get into the parking lot? If it takes an additional four minutes to get home from church, is that really such a big deal? What exactly are people so impatient to go and do on a Sunday morning? Sit on the couch and watch the pre-game show before kickoff? Race to the golf course only to find there are three other foursomes waiting to tee off before you? Get in line for the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet? (Which usually means more impatient waiting, as you worry that by the time you get up to the buffet table the tray of bacon will be empty.)
The Scriptures teach us that patience is a virtue, and we should pray for patience on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the average American Catholic prays for patience like this: “Lord, give me patience—and I want it NOW!”
Maybe we should try something different on Sunday mornings. First, let’s stay inside church until Mass is completely done. There’s a novel idea. Next, when Mass is over, let’s greet some of our fellow parishioners and engage in friendly conversation, rather than sprinting to the parking lot. Finally, let’s drive out of the parking lot slowly and carefully, and leave the demolition derby events to the professionals.
All American Catholics should do this—and they should do it NOW!