March 13, 2011

Luke 5: 31-32

Some times I don't know what I'm thinking. Clearly, only saints go to Mass. Time and time again everyone and all are worthy to present themselves for Communion. Yet, Father sits alone in the Confessional Saturday after Saturday.

A relative whined to me the other day that she doesn't like to go to church because the sermon is not relevent. For the record, this relative was born and raised in the Catholic Church but converted to Lutheranism when she married because her husband was an "anything but the Catholic Church" kind of guy. I jokingly used the opportunity to heckle her by saying that Lutherans can't preach anyway so what does she expect? Probably not the best response but the best response would be "Come back to the Real Love" and I knew she was not quite ready to hear that.

In the Catholic Mass the Homily (sermon or testimony to some of our other denominational brothers and sisters) is supposed to be a development of or talk on the Gospel and Scripture readings for the day. I'll grant you that some priests are better at homilies than others.

But, in my humble opinion, even the most public speaking challenged guy with a speach impediment to ever graduate from the Seminary can't go totally wrong by STICKING TO THE MATERIAL. What makes me really cranky is the hep cat hipster "homily" that is all about world events and politics and short on anything to do with the Gospel or Catholicism. Sometimes after a 25 minute harangue about the party that is clearly supposed to be the Republican party they will throw in a "What Would Jesus do" (if you are really in liberal Minnesota it will be a "What Would Wellstone Do" and some Gospel reference about Jesus and the Adulterous Woman or how God fed the people in the Desert (which may or may not be a reading for the day, month or liturgical season) and the ever popular "Catholic Social Justice" reference to, uh,sorry, I'll get back to you...can't find the reference....

Is it really so difficult to relate to the day's Gospel, Epistle and Psalm? Really? Wow, you ARE a Saint. I'm sitting at Mass (Novus Ordo) today pondering how, yep, I probably would've totally defied God's instructions in the Garden because don't I pretty much do that all the time? Furthermore, if even Jesus, the Son of God Himself, can be tempted by Satan who am I to complain when Satan is all over me?

The Bible,with some exceptions, is a compendium of screw-ups like you and me. It's chock-full of stories of people who had it all: favor of God, food, shelter, family and manage to ruin it all by hubris and sin. Many times the Bible shows us people who acknowledge their sin and turn back to God in full repentence and win back His favor. Is there a greater example of this than David? King David-who gave us some of the most beautiful poetry in the universe. How many times do you just want to yell at the screen, like a horror film where they are heading into the woods and you hear the chainsaw, NO! Don't go there! But, like us, they go anyway.

I think people who want to hear so-called "relevent" homilies and sermons are really only wanting to hear their version of the "good news" They want to hear something that is "not them". Tell me something that I can feel good about myself so I don't walk out of Mass feeling like I need to go to Confesssion or pray more or change my life.

I don't think pastors rejoice when people feel bad but I can't think of a solid priest who isn't happy when they hear someone decided to repent, change their life, and live in Christ because that's why they became a priest. Better a message that encourages self-examination, than one that encourages the same old, same old. It doesn't get much older than the massive screw-up in the Garden. Have we evolved at all since then? Have you?


Blogger belinda said...

Sincerely Cathy, I think your a wonderful person.

March 13, 2011 3:08 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

I'd agree that the things that makes the Old and New Testaments most believable are all those characters who rise to the top and then screw up. And while they might get punished for a time, if they repent, God forgives them.

I'm hoping that those same rules still apply today because in my 3 score plus years, I've made way more than my share of screw-ups. Hopefully now I'm on the way to forgiveness (I went to Confession yesterday but it had been two months. If the Pope goes once a week, daily might be a good idea for me).

I'd like to argue with you a bit, Cath on the sermons. Requiring that the sermon relate to the Mass readings for the day gives the priest/deacon an easy out. They can choose a canned bit off the internet or one of their college essays on "The Fall of Man."

But what the congregation needs, at least once a month, is hell-fire and brimstone preached to them in the manner of Fr. Corapi.

And maybe another time a month it might be good to hear some detail on contributions to the Church. When I was a lad, the parish distributed annually a list of all parishioners, by name, of their contributions for the year.

If they won't do that, they might calculate average contributions. I see an awful lot of dollar bills in those collection baskets.

That's what my Dad, with five kids, gave weekly in the the pre-V2 era. I suspect he made only about two dollars an hour as a mailman and my Mom stayed at home until my youngest sister started school.

Many Catholics are cheap. And they whine about what they do give.
It is a sin not to contribute to the support of the Church.

March 13, 2011 3:22 PM  
Blogger Angela Messenger said...

Abp. Chaput just wrote a great piece about "vanilla Christianity."
Here is the link:

March 13, 2011 3:26 PM  
Blogger belinda said...

Ray, How much is one score? I've heard this twice today and it has piqued my interest.

-I wanna see Chaput in charge of the entire world.

March 13, 2011 4:06 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

My father ranted when I was young and Vatican 2 just unleashed it's horrors to his generation. Every Sunday on the way home I'd sit in the back seat and hear passionate complaints.

Then, many years later I married someone who turned into my dad (in spirit) and started going to the bathroom during the homily. Add to this criticisms and predictions of what our pastor's homily will be (and how crappy it is/was) jokes during the homily, and more on the way home.
Do I attract this stuff!?!?!!

I've learned to shake it off and stay focused on a deep spiritual conversation I have been working on for years. It does not matter (anymore) so much what the priest says, as long as I am speaking with HIM before and after Sunday mass. Sometimes, if I'm not properly prepared, I get drawn into the griping, usually with a comment to move the complaints to a different topic. Sometimes, I get into trouble and confront the complaints - bad choice.

Deep spiritual awareness and dialogue with the Lord during the mass makes any homily wonderful!

March 13, 2011 4:21 PM  
Blogger Nan said...

Father totally rocked this morning at the earlybird Mass. He talked about temptation and the problem being original sin and how temptation is always about something that will purportedly make us feel good but in the end, doesn't.

His example between temptation and sin is that if you're driving past a burger joint on Friday during Lent and think how wonderful a burger would taste, no sin. If, however, you decide later to go back and but for the fact that the place is already closed, would've had a burger, sin.

March 13, 2011 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Thanks for the rant on homilies, Cathy. You have a great recipe when you let fly! I detected equal parts of truth, righteous anger and humor, with just a touch of humility.

I have observed that you have had more time lately to work on your blog, and make your readers think about important issues. Gratefully, with Lent upon us, we will all benefit.

March 14, 2011 3:33 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

belinda - a score, in terms of years, is 20 years.

Cathy - nice post. And I agree - relevance to what's going in the world is okay to a point, but what's really needed is the Truth that without God's grace from the sacraments and without DAILY conversion, we all risk going to Hell.

March 15, 2011 8:07 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I like homilies on fashion - you never really get those much any more. Which may explain why the blogosphere is so popular.

"Don't wear jeans to Mass. Do wear dresses. Don't wear scanty tops. Do wear a veil."

March 15, 2011 10:22 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I forgot to add my "What?". ;)

March 15, 2011 10:25 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Ter: Does cleavage count as fashion? I went to an organizational meeting for a parish festival last Summer, and wouldn't you know that a young woman displaying bountiful amounts of it sat right between me and the speakers podium.

Keeping "custody of my eyes" was quite difficult that evening.

March 15, 2011 11:13 AM  
Blogger belinda said...

Mr.Ray,- Cleavage as a fashion accessory, it's always in style. hahaha

March 15, 2011 1:46 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...


3 LJ's

Ask Cath what that means!

March 15, 2011 8:33 PM  
Blogger belinda said...

Cathy !?!?

March 15, 2011 8:39 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Belinda: Laughing Jerry! It's a long standing inside joke between me and Ray-not it's not a drink! lol

Ter: That's my blog perfectly!

Hi everyone! Thanks for comments.

March 15, 2011 8:55 PM  

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