May 13, 2011 – Breaking Tradition

This has been one of those weeks when nothing obvious came to my attention to talk about, so I guess we’ll just wing it and see what happens (caution – this could get ugly).

Our prayers need to go out to those who continue to be adversely affected by the weather.  In particular right now, we remember those folks to our south who are dealing with the record flooding.  St. Rose of Lima Parish in Metropolis, which is in our diocese, found themselves working to protect some of the parish property from the Ohio River.  The church was unaffected, but the rectory and the parish center were not as fortunate.  Some of the parishioners have posted pictures online from around the parish and town of the flood-fighting efforts.  Here is the link to view them:

http://2011ohioriverfloodpictures.shutterfly.com

I enjoyed a very nice evening this past Monday as I attended the Clergy Appreciation Night held at the KC Hall.  Nine of our priests and deacons were able to attend.  I have put up photos from the evening which you can view by going to this link:

www.maryhoc.org/ClergyNight

It was definitely a “feel good” evening – laughs were shared and some good memories were brought back.  It was great to see Fr. Kribs whom I hadn’t seen for a long time.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as he is 85 years old now and has had some health issues, but he was in very good spirits and I think he truly enjoyed being back at St. Mary’s.  He gave a heartfelt talk about how he enjoyed his time at St. Mary’s and shared some of his memories.  I knew that he still had a sharp mind when I greeted him.  When he was pastor here, for some reason he could not keep my name straight – he would almost always call me Brad.  When I saw him the other night the first thing he said to me was “I want to call you Brad but I know that isn’t right.”  Yep, same old Fr. Kribs.  We appreciate him and all of our dedicated clergy who continue to go above and beyond the call of duty in their ministries.  God Bless them all!

I truly enjoy events such as this not just because I enjoy the good company and all of the memories that come back to my mind, but because I am reminded why I have been and continue to be a devout Catholic – it is largely because of the teaching I received when I was young and the appreciation I gained for the traditions of the church.  I have mentioned this before, and I believe Fr. Gene has too, but in our country the largest religious group is still Roman Catholics, but the next largest is those who consider themselves ex-Catholics – people who once considered themselves Catholics but have now ceased participating in church activities or have converted to another religion.  I can go on and on about some of the reasons why this is occurring.  Obviously the church has faced many challenges recently and some of these folks have become frustrated with how the church has handled these situations.  I also have questioned some of the church’s actions, but that has not caused me to think about abandoning the faith that is so embedded in my heart and soul.

I credit many people with my devotion to my faith.  Certainly Fr. Kribs and the other priests who have been a part of my life have played a huge role through their teaching and example.  Those others that taught me religion in school definitely gave me the background that helped me appreciate my faith so much.  I continue to be influenced by my fellow church goers when I see all of the wonderful things they do – taking care of our buildings and grounds, raising funds for our church and school, visiting shut-ins and nursing home residents and those in hospitals, keeping the prayer chain going, and I can go on and on.  But I think what has meant the most to me was the influence I received at home.  One of my very first memories was watching my Dad kneel by his bedside in the evening to pray.  We prayed before meals.  There was never a question about whether we were going to weekend Mass, it was which Mass we were going to and what time we should be in the car.  I’ve watched my Mom live with the challenge of being legally blind, yet not losing her faith or putting the blame on God.  I couldn’t help but realize how important faith was to my family.

So when I look at the question as to why so many people have and continue to abandon their Catholic faith, again I think there are multiple reasons.  But one of them has to be that the traditions of the Catholic faith are not being as deeply grounded into our kids as it once was.  This is not true for everyone, but I see some people just going through the motions without really making the effort to understand the traditions and symbols of our faith.  I would think it would be much easier for these people to “pack up and leave” for another religion.  They don’t have the emotional and spiritual investment in their faith that others have.  This is why catechesis for Catholics of ALL ages is so important.  There is power in understanding and knowledge.  With the changes coming later this year in the Order of the Mass with the release of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal, an opportunity is presented for us to gain a deeper understanding of the Mass and a chance to ask questions about why we do the things we do at Mass and to have those questions answered.

Well there were a few days this past week that gave us a preview of our typical hot and humid summer.  With summer right around the corner, it means an opportunity to catch some baseball (Go Cardinals!) and to do a little touch-up work to the website.  If you have an idea for something to include on the website, please let me know.  Our website continues to see a good number of hits, which I always appreciate.

Have a great week.  Pray for dry weather.  Peace.

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