Saturday, April 30, 2011

After the noon mass on Friday, out of town, I stayed a bit to pray for some intentions. A lady touched me on the shoulder and said that she'd walked by me on her way out but that God had told her to turn around and talk to me. I had not noticed her pass as I was deeply involved in prayer unknotting my rosary. But with that sort of conversation starter, I'm rather obliged to hear her out.

She invited me to their upcoming "Life in the Spirit" seminar, weekly on Tuesdays until Pentecost. I didn't think that parishes were still running that ancient program but I listened politely to her pitch. I told her that I'd check with my husband, etc., etc. She retrieved a couple of flyers with information from a back table for me.

She left me and I said my prayers, all the while trying to figure how to fit this into my schedule. I couldn't fit it and apologized to God before walking out.

Leaving the parking lot, I thought about asking my pastor whether he'd run the seminar at our parish.

Saturday evening's service was lightly attended because the weather was so dang nice. Surprisingly - it surprises me every year - hospitality was moved up so as not to conflict with Mother's Day next Sunday. And it was offered on Saturday evening as well, to honor St. Joseph the Worker, our parish patron. Now the choir loft where we sit was a disaster: missals and hymnals stuffed together, remnants of palms from two weeks ago. I sent the boys downstairs to hospitality while I tidied up.

There were even fewer people who stayed for hospitality! The church hall was mostly empty. And I just knew by the look on his face that the deacon was going to sit with us. He did, but he kindly asked permission first. I asked after his wife because I didn't see her and he said she's fine. He remarked that my missal looked old or well-used, and I said it's becoming obsolete but I bought it in '991 so it isn't so old. I said something about wondering how many missals I'll go through in my lifetime.

Then I related the invitation from the previous day to attend "Life in the Spirit" at a Catholic parish some distance from my own. I said that I thought the amount of traveling made the invitation impractical2 and maybe our parish could hold one. The deacon asked whether it wasn't a charismatic program and I said that it could be run that way but probably didn't have to be. Then he told me about a mass that was held in honor of a returning vet who happened to have enough of a relationship to our deacon that the deacon was invited to the mass. It was a charismatic mass and he described the hands waving, etc. So I guess I've received my answer: they won't touch it with a ten foot pole.

I sent a two-line email to my pastor and his associate anyway about "Life in the Spirit," just to make sure.

1 It's copyrighted 2001, so I don't think I was accurate. I just knew that the revised lectionary for Sunday was published in '98 and that it took some time before I could find an updated missal. I think I even used my old one for a little bit because it wasn't that far off and it was better than nothing.
2 yes, daily mass there is a bit out of the way too but not as much because my daily routine has me near there.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sunday Snippets - a Catholic carnival hosted by Rann at "This That and the Other Thing."

My post this week:

Click to join sunday_snippets
I attended this concert last night:

The church is only twenty minutes from my house. I arrived by 7 and checked in immediately. There were a few CDs on sale in the vestibule. David was at the grand piano in the sanctuary preparing. We weren't allowed inside until he finished.

This was only my second time inside this church. I had visited about a year ago to pray but found the sanctuary undergoing such a major renovation that it wasn't quiet enough. When I heard that the concert was to be held here, I was surprised that the renovation was completed. It had seemed so involved.

I took a good seat expecting to be in his line of sight. A lady sat down next to me and I started the conversation with the typical, "So is this your parish?" She went into an explanation on how it now is and contrasted it with her former parish at which she didn't feel welcome. On top of the fact that her previous pastor wouldn't marry her daughter in the time frame needed, this parish hands out things on special occasions:
Flowers on Mother's Day, York Peppermint Patties on St. Patrick's Day, Hershey's Kisses on Valentines Day!
Really, that's a reason she switched. "Tomorrow you'll get palms!" I wanted to point out to her the socio-economic differences between her previous parish, comprised mostly of immigrants, and this one but she would not hear.

David came out and played the first song. Many began to sing along. The lyrics were printed in the program but I wanted to hear him sing and play. I didn't know the songs as well as everyone else. And I don't sing well. But the intimate setting put pressure on me to participate so I reluctantly joined in.

Halfway through, he encouraged us to rise, stretch and give the person to our right a brief back rub. I did my best with my neighbor but she was still wearing her overcoat ... because ... she's a Catholic ... so I don't know how effective I was. Hers wasn't very great towards me, either.

David took up a collection for his summer music camp after explaining the work. Then he did a few more numbers and quietly walked out during a singalong of "Steal Away to Jesus", a cappella so we wouldn't notice the piano cease. He greeted us in the vestibule. I dug a pen out of my pocketbook and asked him to sign my program for my son, Christopher, who's learning the piano. He was happy to.

At the opening of the show, he said it was his fourth time to NJ. I'd overheard Sr. Trudy of the Upper Room say that last year's concert had been at St. Anselm's in Wayside and 400 people turned out. How they squeezed 400 people into St. Anselm's I'll never know. But the change of venue only turned out about 100 people. I have the feeling that people may be unfamiliar with his name even if they know his music.

I heard him perform one other time, in Washington, D.C., about fifteen years ago at a religious educators conference. We happened to ride up the elevator together. I remember him being very humble and nice. Last night he smiled the entire time. Just a happy guy.

Friday, April 08, 2011

"If you're going to say the Jesus Prayer, at least say it to Jesus, and not to St. Francis and Seymour and Heidi's grandfather all wrapped up in one. Keep him in mind if you say it, and him only, and him as he was and not as you'd like him to have been. You don't face any facts. This same damned attitude of not facing facts is what got you into this messy state of mind in the first place, and it can't possibly get you out of it."

"The part that stumps me, really stumps me, is that I can't see why anybody- unless he was a child, or an angel, or a lucky simpleton like the pilgrim- would even want to say the prayer to a Jesus who was the least bit different from the way he looks and sounds in the New Testament. My God! He's only the most intelligent man in the Bible, that's all! Who isn't he head and shoulders over? Who? Both Testaments are full of pundits, prophets, disciples, favorite sons, Solomons, Isaiahs, Davids, Pauls- but, my God, who beside Jesus really knew which end was up? Nobody. Not Moses. Don't tell me Moses. He was a nice man, and he kept in beautiful touch with his God, and all that- but that's exactly the point. He had to keep in touch. Jesus realized there is no separation from God... Oh, my God, what a mind!" he said. "Who else, for example, would have kept his mouth shut when Pilate asked for an explanation? Not Solomon. Don't say Solomon. Solomon would have had a few pithy words for the occasion. I'm not sure Socrates wouldn't have, for that matter. Crito, or somebody, would have managed to pull him aside just long enough to get a couple of well-chosen words for the record. But most of all, above everything, who in the Bible besides Jesus knew- knew- that we're carrying the Kingdom of Heaven around with us, inside, where we're all too goddam stupid and sentimental and unimaginative to look? You have to be a son of God to know that kind of stuff. Why don't you think of these things? I mean it, Franny, I'm being serious." - Salinger, Zooey