August 28, 2010 – There’s No Place Like Home

Well with all of the technology now at our fingertips you would think someone could figure out a way to bottle up our weather from the last couple of days, and save it for a 100 degree or a 10 degree day.  What a gorgeous last few days we have had.

For the last few weeks there has been a rabbit hanging around in my front yard.  Every evening without fail he has been there.  In fact one evening I didn’t realize that he was right at the front door and I nearly stepped on him.  Imagine trying to explain that one: “HEADLINE – Large, seemingly kind-hearted man squashes innocent rabbit.  Video too gruesome to air.”  Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out why this creature continues to hang around.  Perhaps he has picked up the habits of the occupant of the home and is simply too lazy to pick up and go elsewhere.  Perhaps he feels that sticking close to the buildings will protect him from the harm of coyotes, hunters, etc.  Or perhaps he has just found something comforting in the new surroundings he has discovered.

At this point you are probably thing to yourself “Um, Brian, did you happen to forget to take your medication this morning?  All you can think of to talk about is the weather and a rabbit?”  I promise this is leading somewhere.  For whatever reason the rabbit has found a place that is comforting and a place where he feels welcome – in other words he has found a home.

In a few weeks I will begin teaching PSR once again.  We are not celebrating Confirmation this year, so I always felt that part of my job with the 7th & 8th graders was to try to express to the kids that it is still important to learn as much about our faith as we can even though we are not preparing for a sacrament.  One section of our class is titled “Being Catholic”.  We know that we believe in the one true God, we know that we proclaim ourselves as Christians, but have we really thought about what it means to call ourselves “Catholic”?  Does it just mean that we go to the church on Swanwick St. instead of the one on State St.?  Does it mean that we do different things in church than other denominations?  Or does it mean something more?

The word “Catholic” actually means “universal.”  I have always thought that one of the really neat aspects of the Catholic church was that you can participate in a Mass anywhere in the country or even the world and you recognize what is going on.  You may not recognize the language but you recognize the rituals, the symbols, the Eucharist.  Part of the reason that the church is transitioning to a newly revised Roman Missal is to assure that the Order of the Mass will have the same wording in all parts of the world.  We can truly compare entering a church to entering a home – gathering as a community to worship together and to share a meal.  I know personally that when I enter our church I feel like I am entering a second home – it’s a place that’s comforting, a place that’s serene, a place to find nourishment.  And even though we are a universal church, it’s just not quite the same when you attend Mass at another church.

A couple weeks back I mentioned that the Diocese will be examining some of the smaller parishes to examine their viability and to see if it is still practical to keep some of the very small churches functioning.  What makes the decisions so difficult is that when you close a parish, you are not just putting a lock on the door – you are keeping people from entering their home.  At some point practicality has to reign, but there is of course always some type of loss with change.

It is easy to be critical of people who do not attend Mass regularly.  I have certainly done my share of it.  But there is a reason for everything, and for some reason the element of the church being a “home” is missing from these folks’ periphery.  Perhaps these people need to be invited by someone personally to come back “home”, to have the “welcome mat” put out for them to see.  Perhaps they need to be reminded that like my new rabbit friend, there is something safe and enticing to be found in our place of worship.  There is a reason, after all, that we call it “God’s house”, not just God’s building or God’s shelter.

A couple of other notes: As I noted on our Twitter and Facebook pages, our website has been getting a good amount of traffic recently.  Thanks so much for continuing to visit and also for spreading the word about our website.  Also, if you haven’t joined our Facebook group yet, consider doing so.  We are up to 40 members now.

We had our first meeting with our new parish council the other night, and all indications are that it is another great group.  We discussed a lot of issues and exchanged a lot of information.  It is a group that has a true interest in making our parish that welcoming place we all desire.  I’m looking forward to more gatherings with our group.

Next week I will be celebrating a milestone for the blog.  I will keep you in suspense until then (I have to draw you back somehow!).  Have a great week, and pray for inspiration for the Cardinals.  It was a painful week!  Peace.

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