Welcome back for Week 9 of CatholicMom.com’s Lawn Chair Catechism: “Threshold of Conversion: Seeking and Discipleship” As always, all of the discussion questions can be found here. No need to even read the book. If you haven’t, the study guide is descriptive enough that you can answer the questions thoughtfully. Feel free to post your comments on this blog and read other responses over at the main discussion here.
Some of you may know that I am participating in Jen Fulwiler’s 7 posts in 7 days epic blogging challenge. As such, I’ve planned what I will write for the full 7 days – without reading today’s questions. In my schedule for Wednesday, I just entered “Lawn Chair”, figuring that I had it done, just answer the questions. What do they say? You want to make God laugh? Make plans. My point, dear friends is that I had this subject planned for later in the week, but it just works here for today. I guess God would like me to share this with you, and seeing that He’s God, well, I’ll listen.
In your own faith:
Are you ready, spiritually, to acknowledge that certain leaders in your parish or diocese may not yet be disciples of Jesus? Are you prepared to treat those persons graciously? To let go of past hurts? To respect them as they make their journey to discipleship?
For me, personally, I don’t know if I need to be ready to acknowledge anything. For me, it’s more if He says I’m ready. On one of my first few trips to mass with my family, it came time to share in the Eucharist but both my children were not receiving at that time – they receive a blessing. Lexicon hadn’t made his First Holy Communion and Monk, is only 5. When we file out of the pew prayerfully (of course), we pass my husband and smile (he’s a very supportive atheist). My little boys cross their little arms over their chest to signal they cannot receive. I always stand behind them both, ushering them along the aisle showing them when to bow (before the person ahead of you receives). On this day, I was particularly thrilled. I mean, come on, two little boys receiving a sweet blessing? My husband there watching and smiling at us? That’s a blessed morning. Imagine then when I get there, my little Monk receives his blessing, then Lexicon, I hear their little “Amen”. I’m smiling ear to ear as I approach just behind Lexicon – and the priest sucks his teeth, rolls his eyes and gets irritated that he has to bestow another blessing on a child when he was ready with host in hand. I see that, and am completely shocked! Shocked! And then, angered that someone would react that way to a child looking to be closer to Our Lord! Let alone the priest!!! I walked back to the pew with my children and whispered what happened to my husband – bad move. Bad, bad move. Again, I am a practicing (always) Catholic, not a perfect Catholic. Mass ended and he was angry, I was angry. How dare that priest!?!
I never said anything. I never mentioned this hurt to that priest. I came to realize and see that the priest, like the parishioners are human. We have faults, we make mistakes, we don’t make the best choices, sometimes we’re in our own head and that means others pay the price of our selfishness by bearing the brunt of our haphazard, knee jerk (emphasis on the jerk) responses and they need our intercessory prayers. I know, because that’s me. I do that. I snap at people I love. I’m not always nice or welcoming.
Because God likes to give me reminders, flashbacks and TONS of context, I immediately remembered this same priest giving a talk at RCIA. I was asked by Deacon TC to come to that particular class because there would be a special message. Eh, sure. Fine. I’ll go. I usually went to a one-on-one meeting with him earlier in the day, but yeah, special message, I’ll be there. Got it. I couldn’t remember all of what the priest said, but I took away this little tidbit: before mass he likes to center himself. Pray. Enter wholly into what he is about to partake in and of. He loves to celebrate the mass and right before, likes to take this time to be ready to receive and to give. Think about all the people that fill the pews. That’s a lot of giving, no? Sometimes however, parishioners use these precious minutes to seek him out, complain that the church is too cold, too hot, or the choir sings too many verses for the recessional hymn and they want to get out of there – what can he do to fix that? In essence, they complain. Here is this priest, trying to pray for his parishioners and all they do is seek him out to complain. Well. There you have it. Immediately, I fell to my knees and prayed for this priest. I prayed hard and I prayed long that he would know just how grateful we were, as a family to have him. Can I just tell you, he is now my favorite, most beloved priest? This priest doesn’t even know this story. I never told him.
His name is Father Kevin. I usually don’t “drop” names here, but in this case, so you understand our love for him, my little Monk calls him Father Heaven. Other children try to correct my little Monk, but he’s adamant. He is Father Heaven. Father Kevin gave my husband a crucifix when he married us and said it was a loaner to be returned when he baptizes my husband. Father Kevin coordinated the Ecumenical Kitchen donation with my son, Lexicon. Father Kevin loves my husband, jokes with him about how he’s the most Catholic atheist he’s ever met. It’s because of Father Kevin that I started this blog. You see, he was just reassigned somewhere else and that broke my heart. I sent him an email saying that I was sad about it, but that I understand he has to share his gifts with others; they need him too. His response, “I am leaving the parish, but I’m not leaving you”.
The weekend prior to his announcement, I cantored at mass. The responsorial psalm was Psalm 110. “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchiz’edek;”. He will always be our priest. Our Father Heaven.
See you next week.