Thursday, November 29, 2012

In the News (November Good Steward)

The tiny little news piece is probably a summary of events that are taking place many miles away. It is easy to speculate about why this might be happening, but it is hard to imagine. I have visited many parishes in many countries and it is hard to imagine that Catholics might be thought of as someone’s enemy. I grew up in the Bible Belt where there were tensions from time to time, but they were more the subject of sermons thought to give testimony that one group was better than another. We did foolish things growing up around here but we were mixed in with every kind of religion.

We feel a certain amount of frustration when we hear that some of our brother and sister Catholics have lost their lives because they are a different religion. I can imagine the scene of a few people at a time, slipping into a side door to come to Mass. To not call attention would certainly be better. Just like in our parish there would be hugs to greet one another. Having made it through the door would make everyone feel safe. There were little conversations in every part of the Church, discussing the well-being of some in the little congregation that were not present. But everyone was accounted for and they nervously started the Mass.

We can hardly dismiss the thoughts that this is the way it was for the first Christians. One of the criticisms of the ancient Church was that it was a secret society, with a closed membership. If it were too open it would quickly call attention. There is a little archeological evidence to help form this image. There have been found some larger buildings that would hold a hundred to two hundred souls. Interestingly, since there have been lots of Sunday school lessons that told about the Jews persecuting the Christians, some of these were similarly configured. They are like Jewish Synagogues and Christian Churches right next to each other. They are built on quiet streets and no one asked what went on there. Whispers guided those who might be interested in learning more about this unique religious movement.

There are always sacrifices, especially in an organization such as the Church. Sacrifice is a way of life. Sometimes it may not seem so, because the sacrifices seem small or unnoticed. We might hear about them or read about them but if we are not careful we might miss them entirely. I have to imagine that Jesus and the Saints, especially the martyrs take great notice. But this is not merely the stuff of excited children dressed up like Saints. That is all very well and good, especially if someday they realize that the costume they are wearing is more real than they might think. We could certainly say a lot about Columbine and other such horrific and violent events. And for those in Nigeria, may they be remembered with the glory of the martyrs. May the blood that was shed by those gathering for Mass be remembered as an efficacious sign of the Passion and Death of Jesus. May His Passion heal our world.

We would ask ourselves if this could help us all to be more enthusiastic about our attendance at Mass. Simply ask the question, “Am I going to be in Mass this Sunday?”

We are taking a collection during Cardinal Tumi’s visit. It will be sent to the Church in Nigeria in memory of those who have lost their lives in the civil strife there.

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