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An insight that startled me:

from St. Benedict and St. Thérèse
Dwight Longenecker

Church-shopping is one of the spiritual diseases of our age. Constantly on the lookout for an excellent preacher, good music, fine liturgy, or pleasing architecture, we become liturgical tasters and our taste becomes so refined that, like the connoisseur who has spoiled his appreciation through snobbery, we can never find a church exquisite enough for us.

These lines were written right at me. One of the problems I have espoused with my present parish is the awful decoration and certain anomalies in practice. What I should have been doing is working quietly and relentlessly within the parish to bring it into line with Church teaching.

Apparently some good souls have been doing so. The expansion of Eucharistic adoration, the suggestion of building a special chapel for exactly this purpose, and the request to alter the configuration of the Church to result in a eucharistic centrality, is evidence of a core of faithfulness that has worked relentlessly to effect the changes necessary to bring the entire parish into line with the Church at large. I should be ashamed of myself for my laxity and my own appetite for comfort, by which I deprived the parish of one more supporter--a supporter who might have made shorter work of the long waiting the people have experienced. I pray that God forgive me my own self-indulgence.

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Seeing your growth is heart warming. Keep being open to God, Steven.

J. R. R. Tolkien said:
"I can recommend this as an exercise: make your Communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children -- from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn -- open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to Communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same as a Mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. (It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand -- after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.)"

Dear M. Pratt,

Thank you. I have read that before and skipped by it as "not pertinent." It most certainly is, and I am shown once again to have been mistaken.

You know, it comes rather as a relief that one can make mistakes. Perfection in knowledge and conduct is an intolerable burden. Now, I needn't pretend to it any more.

Thanks again.



I am encourged that "EPratt" said it first. Yes, I'll second that. Let us all pray that the Holy Spirit might allow you to trip over the very worst of the worst. You won't have to preach a word. Your prayers and humble helpfulness as the Spirit leads, will allow you to become the tools of a certain Carpenter. Francis of Assisi started with a fallen-in little country chapel. That wasn't too hard to find, was it? May God be with you......

Thank you for posting this, Steven. You have settled, in my mind the parish we shall call our own in after having moved back to Michigan. It's the parish closest to my home. The parish where I saw a girl in tight jeans chewing gum in the communion line, and after communion as well. I guess she tucked the gum in her cheek while receiving. I can only hope that at least this measure was taken. It's the parish where I have heard the Church's position cracked down upon as out of place once the un-married couple has decided to get married (while not yet being married). The parish where the family strolling in looks like they just got back from the beach or are heading that way right after communion. The parish where a regiment of people go up on the altar and behind the Priest before the Ecce Agnus Dei. The parish where EVERYONE goes to communion.

I could go on, but you get the picture. We have been doing exactly what your post talks about. "Which Church shall we go to?" "St. So and So's is pretty solid?" "St. This and That is a very beautiful church."

In the Rockford diocese, Bishop Doran requests that people go to the church nearest them. He frowns on going across town to a different parish.

Awesome post.

God bless you!!!

Your post and these excellent comments have helped me, too. It's another reminder that it's not "all about me," it's "all about Him."

My own practice has been to follow some wise advice I once received: "Forbear unless forbearance isn't working. Then try something else." If I were at a parish where, through my own flaws, I would find it impossible to abstain from criticalness or lack of charity, I might have to go elsewhere for a while. But this would not be a sign of superiority but of weakness -- sort of a spiritual 'medical leave'. The goal would be healing in my own soul rather than self-protection. I hope.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on December 7, 2004 8:12 AM.

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