Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Growing up I was taught that “tradition” was a bad thing. In fact, one of the Churches I went too prided itself on the fact it never did the worship service in the same way. (click the link hear more)

June 21, 2017
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
Lectionary: 367
2 COR 9:6-11
PS 112:1BC-2, 3-4, 9
MT 6:1-6, 16-18

Growing up I was taught that “tradition” was a bad thing.   In fact, one of the Churches I went too prided itself on the fact it never did the worship service in the same way.   One day they’d preach first, sing some music, then have an altar call.   The next day they’d altar call first, sing some music, preach, and then maybe even sing again!  At the time I didn’t realize that in and of itself was a tradition.  Tradition can be beautiful!   We humans seem to thrive on structure even though we often don’t realize it.   Having habits can be both good and bad.   Good habits increase our lives, bad ones send us spiraling down.

In both the readings today we are reminded that what we do not only has an effect on what comes back to us in this life and the next, but it also affects those around us.   Jesus in His message today isn’t condemning public prayer or worship.   He isn’t telling us that there isn’t a proper place to have the tradition or that we should just get rid of ‘religion’ altogether.   In another place, He tells us “Those on the seat of Moses are hypocrites, but do what they teach you not following their example.”  Clearly, He didn’t mean for us to stop having a relationship with God that showed the world we were different, holy and set apart.   What He did mean is that hollow religion, actions done for the wrong reason, are worthless.

That’s why it is so important that we actually believe what the Church teaches and understand why.   So many homes are broken and divorce has become something of a standard practice these days.   Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it’s necessary for sanity and health.   I myself am a divorced man who received an annulment and am remarried in the Catholic church.  I don’t expect anyone to stay in an abusive relationship, neither physical, emotional or spiritual.   What I do realize, especially as a stepdad, is that those broken relationships don’t just hurt the couple who split up…  They harm society itself.   The children are in direct line of the shrapnel from the explosion, and all their friends are impacted as well.  Our faith shouldn’t be hidden for the sake of hiding it.   It should impact every part of our lives and show a lasting change.   It’s not enough to say I believe all of these things and then be an impatient curmudgeon when the world encounters me... And believe me, I can be just that.

That’s what we can learn from Saints like the one from today.   This man knew his faults and would continue to stand with his eyes on the ground anytime a woman would be around him.  Not because he was shy, but because he didn’t even want to take a chance at having a lustful or improper thought.   He went on to die in the service of others, contracting the plague in a hospital while trying to help the sick and infirm.  His actions were all the public prayer he needed.   When we pray the rosary or the divine office in public, we must make sure we are doing it for the right reasons… not to be noticed, but to show our love for God.   In all instances though, we are to be at service to those around us.   Some think they should build a prayer space or a hidden closet in their home, and that’s commendable.  I have a few spaces set up in my own home for that purpose.   That shouldn’t be our only prayer.   Rather we should have a space set up in our own hearts, building a hidden room where all of our actions are lifted up to God with contrition and love.   That way our life can become a pleasing sacrifice, united with the Work of Christ on the Cross, and Our Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14