Is It Worth It?
We humans are not great at delayed gratification—you know—having to put off some immediate reward for some later payoff. The diet industry, along with beauty and exercise products and plans, count on this aspect of our humanity—along with the whole buy-now-pay-later mentality.
I was reminded of that experiment where a child was left in a room with a marshmallow on the table in front of him/her. He/she is told that if they don’t eat the marshmallow while the proctor (the adult running the experiment) is out of the room, that the child will get two marshmallows to eat when the adult returns. Invariably, the child eats the marshmallow almost immediately after the adult leaves. Human nature. We can’t seem to believe it will be better and bigger reward if we put off the immediate gratification for a later and larger one. It is one of those few times in our nature when we humans actually live in the present (instead of regretting the past or worrying about the future). We decide for the present, the now, the immediate. Many consumer industries depend upon this quirk of our natures; it’s why being great and best at anything (like Olympians) is difficult: if it were easy everyone would do it. You know: instead of the long process of hard work and sacrifice and then the reward…
What has that to do with the readings for this Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time?
Jesus tells us today about the sacrifice it takes to follow Him: to be true to our core, Christian beliefs (modeled by Him). He speaks of Christ first in and before all other things: what you say you are, what you say—and especially in what you do. Christ first—in the face of opposition and social acceptance, in the face of fear, in the face of temptation and sin—and especially when tempted to the easy way. You know it: the cookie with your name on it; the couch and television instead of a walk; the drink or drug calling to you; turning away from a moment that may be teachable for persons near you or in your family that hold to positions that oppose Christian values—and taking the easy way out...
Do you ever ask yourself if you are truly committed to a life in Christ? And what does that mean—what does that look like?
The Gospel Acclamation verse today is: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” Your first reaction (mine was) is that of a special place of honor with all the perks implied by power. But the implication here is huge for us true believers—and it is not about the privileges of power—but about the responsibility, the mission, the inheritance and accountability we are called to as Catholic Christians. This “entitlement” as named Christians is one that demands deep commitment and fierce self-reflection. Our integrity as true believers must constantly be held to a Gospel standard and examined: are we taking the marshmallow immediately, or doing the right thing in the moment, the hard thing, and waiting for a later and better reward? That is what each and every one of us is called to do. And we also have a collective responsibility in that all of us are responsible to these core ideals—no “passing the buck”—except to help the poor and the marginalized.
St. Paul tells us that by our Baptism we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ: if we die with Christ, we shall live with Him in “newness of life.” We are called to live for God in Jesus, announcing His praises, called out of darkness into light—doing the hard work. A new life is what we will find: a thinner and energized best version we are called to be in order to work in this field of souls. That is the life we are chosen for and that we choose: acceptance that bestows responsibility for others, accountability for our actions, and the joy of the cross. Is it worth the sacrifice and hard work, eschewing the easy way out? Only you can say for you. Food for thought…
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Brother Louis Cantor lived in Detroit and was the Director of Music for our Archdiocese for many years. This link is for exactly what it is—Louis has been fighting cancer for years—as have many of you and your families and friends. On his fb page he offers many prayer opportunities; he is very prayerful and talented man. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work and make music with him. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0B7v4WIX9E
PS: Many of you emailed and spoke to me that you were moved by, and loved, this song by Craig Colson that I sang at mass a couple of weeks ago. Here it is, recorded by the composer: We Breathe in Love - YouTube
Continuing to Care
Since the pandemic we have reached out to check in on most of our senior parishioners. This week, we started assembling kits to be sent to our younger members. The kits will be mailed with a bit of fun, a bit of faith and a lot of love from our community. It will be a reminder to the youth and the family that St. Aidan is still on Mission in the pandemic.
We are hoping there are a few people out there willing to sponsor one of the children for $20. The donation can be made from the parish website or write "Care Package" on an envelope. We will share the images from the kids receiving their packages on social media.
Death Will Have His Day
Shakespeare was right...to a point.
This “now” feels like a very crazy time to be living, to be alive—there is so much information and misinformation right at our fingertips—and so the clear truth in any situation can be difficult to parse. The world seems to be caving in for all of us who are in distress for so many reasons: fear for our health; fear of racial injustice and prejudice; fear for our economic ability to sustain our families in all ways we can consider… We are confused and needing clarity, blinded by our circumstances and asking for vision, living a new reality while yearning for the old.
Today this Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary (counted) Time we hear that the Prophet Jeremiah is persued and persecuted by his people for speaking the truth—he is denounced on every side and waiting for the ax to fall—and he reminds us that God will “rescue the poor from the power of the wicked.” There is some comfort there—in knowing that God is in charge of the “just deserts” of those in power who choose for themselves—rather than for the people they serve.
St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans reminds us that God’s grace gave us the gift of Jesus—grace that overflows for all! (No exceptions!) In the Gospel today Jesus tells us to: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” He says it is better to be afraid of choosing sin rather than speaking the truth and standing up for what is right and good. He reminds us that everything that occurs happens with God’s knowledge—so “Be Not Afraid” of doing right and facing injustice—as His grace is sufficient to strengthen you and give you voice.
These are times that are trying, stressful and disturbing: there is sadness and pain for the deaths, anxieties and fear caused by Covid19; social unrest and injustice; economic stress. However, the terrible economic problems and social injustices that have been brought into the light, revealed by this pandemic—and may be seen as a grace from God really, a silver lining—in that we have the opportunity to do better to make a more just, merciful, compassionate and kind society. “The spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord; and you also will testify”—by your actions and by your power and by your words and by your privilege. What helps in any difficult situation is knowing that we need not be afraid to do right—that we are supported—because His grace is sufficient for us all.
Keep singing in your hearts and minds!
Just a note: A few weeks ago in explaining about the new rubrics (rules) for singing at mass I printed/posted a picture of all of our stored Journeysong Hymnals. I saw this small prayer service for the storing of hymnals from the Cathedral of the Angels from Los Angeles and wished that I had thought to do this. It is short and lovely—and expresses well our prayer for a return (sooner rather than later) to Assembly and shared singing.
Also included in today’s “Just a Note” is a litany/prayer for those who experience violence.
Litany for People Experiencing Violence
Response: Remember Us, O God
When injustice strikes down your children…
When hatred overwhelms conscience…
When violence tears apart human hearts…
When ignorance seems to win the day…
When turmoil is greater than our stamina…
When abusive power grows even stronger…
When the innocent grieve in oppressed silence…
When hopelessness makes a home in us…
When wars and violence rage in the daylight…
When bitterness has a seat at the table…
When blame pits us against one another…
When selfishness makes us cowardly…
When truth turns to destructive opinion…
When Your truth seems far away…
We will persevere in faith…
We will persevere in love…
We will persevere in wisdom…
We will persevere in your call to justice…
We will persevere in kindness…
The Solution to the Problem of Evil
By What Are You Fed?
Today we celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is the Monday right after Trinity Sunday—as we have an earlier deadline on the articles now because we actually print a Bulletin again, instead of only offering the on-line blog for our St. Aidan Parish. It is also the day after my birthday—so I am fresh from the well-wishes of friends, family and parishioners. As I am required to look toward the next weekend right after the last one, I am thinking about the Eucharist, and I found myself asking by what am I fed—what fills me and sates any needs?
Since March when parishes were closed, we have been receiving a Spiritual Communion—social distanced, stay-at-home-Communion—which many of you still receive. A few brave souls began returning to church when we were given the opening instructions by our Archbishop, but many people are/were not yet willing to take the risk of in-person Communion—and that is fine. Even though I missed Communion with people in church, spiritual Communion works! When just the staff was present for live streaming the mass, none of us partook (except for Fr. Kevin) as we were in Communion with you, missing also the “Real Presence” of Jesus. We grew to realize that we were still receiving Him anyway; and we felt satisfied to reach out from a distance to our parishioners/friends/family because we were all sharing these unusual circumstances. Spiritual Communion taught us how to be together when we were apart—and I know I was fed by that.
I have discovered that other (surprising) things feed me too on this pandemic journey—and I am filled by the love and care I see that the people in our Community have for each other—all the efforts that have been made to communicate and check on each other in just how we are doing in all this.
I find I have been filled with the satisfaction of small, quiet moments in our days—something I hope to keep for the future. There have been moments of grace and time to reflect on them. I am living in gratitude for many things I have taken for granted: gatherings of people for many purposes; music sung together in groups like choir and in church; technology that we have to connect over time and space; cooking for interest rather than just hunger; more time for longer conversations.
I am filled with the pride of a particular “patriotism” in that our own domestic struggles for justice have spread throughout the world to other brothers and sisters in need—launching, igniting a ‘global pandemic’ for fighting for equal rights for all persons of color; for speaking out and standing up to the sins of prejudice and privilege or economic injustice; for inclusion of any other diversities with which God has graced us. This fills me with hope for us all, in spite of what may seem chaotic.
The pain of something old falling apart feels like chaos, but we are invited in these situations to listen at a deeper level and to go to a ‘new place’ because the old place is—and must—fall apart. It does not feel good—but however uncomfortable you are with what is happening—imagine how uncomfortable it is to be a marginalized person in any society. Our ‘instinct’ is to do anything to keep the old thing we know from falling apart. This is when we need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go of old stuff instead of tightening our controls and certitudes. Not accidentally, Jesus mentions the narrow road right after teaching the Golden Rule as He knows how much letting go it takes to “treat others as you would like them to treat you.” Any transformation will always include growing pains, disconcerting reorientations, honest self-reflection and reconciliation. Any change is difficult.
What does this have to do with the Eucharist and todays’ Solemnity? The Eucharist is an invitation to a social experience in the shared presence of God, and to be present to all in a real way. Within our Trinitarian belief, (remember last weekend) everything comes down to relationship. In very physical language table bread is called “my body” and wine is called “my blood.” We are saying “yes” to both the physical universe itself with the bloody suffering of our own life and all of creation. In Communion we then thank God (eucharisteo in Greek), the Origin of all life, who allows and uses this death that life includes—the death of sin. We are making a choice for gratitude, abundance, and appreciation for all gifts and creation from God—and all must be re-gifted away in generosity, mercy, kindness and trust. That is the Eucharist we celebrate today! Lord, whether we receive You sacramentally or spiritually, help us to know that we are all joined together in your real presence through your Body and Word. No exceptions. Amen! By what are you fed? Food for thought…
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a note: I am filled with the joy of good people who gather—on zoom! Members of the St. Aidan Music Ministry called/zoomed me on Saturday to wish me a Happy Birthday. We shared stories, lamented the virus and no singing in groups directive, looked at haircuts and laughed and prayed together. This is what fills me: God’s strategy for a more loving, kind, merciful and generous way of living in His world.
Some pics of our Saturday Music Ministry zoom; and our choir dog, Gretel, modeling Christian caring for others by wearing a mask.
David J. Conrad, M.A. Theology. Our Director of Faith Formation.
St. Aidan Catholic Church
17500 Farmington Rd.
Livonia, MI 48152
Weekend Mass Schedule
Saturday Vigil: 5:00 PM
Sunday: 7:30, 9:30, 11:30 AM