Jottings from Fr. J.J.

A TIME OF JOY

My journey since Ash Wednesday has been different this year. There is still the same drama that surrounds me and all of our lives, but I have had a great deal of peace. Lent is a time of sacrifice and discipline, but I want to remind you that it should not be a time of sadness. Instead it should be a season of great joy. One of the Lenten Prefaces for the Mass clearly states: “For by your gracious gift each year your faithful await the sacred paschal feasts with the joy of minds made pure.” How are we to reach this purity?

So let’s look at fasting. It is not just a physical diet. By denying our bodies, our physical hunger reminds us of the hunger of our souls for God, our longing for a deeper spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. When we achieve that: JOY! Almsgiving teaches us to separate ourselves from material possessions that can “own” us. By freely giving away our money and stuff, we learn to trust Christ (the giver of every gift) more deeply for our own daily needs. When we achieve that: JOY! Finally, prayer during Lent is a way to stir up our love by having a deepening conversation with God. This for sure leads to JOY!

 

SEEMS LIKE “BALANCE IS NEEDED!”

“Always Loved, Always Welcome, and Welcome Home” are the words printed on our transoms as you enter into our gathering space. These are simple words, but ones that are packed with meaning. Hopefully they are not just words, but something we all live by.

I have discovered in my brief (?) years on this earth that issues in the Church often come and go in waves. One issue that seems to be the buzz as of late in our parish is about children at Mass. It has been discussed several times at our parish council meetings. It has even been suggested that as the presider, I should stop Mass and tell the parents of an unruly child to leave (FYI this is not in my DNA and I could never nor would ever do this). One person even followed a parent into the restroom to remind them that we have a cry room.

Our Lord said in St. Mark’s Gospel, “People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples scolded them for this. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to just such as these.’”  I personally welcome kids at Mass. As an uncle of 20 nieces and nephews, I realize that it is not always easy being a parent. As someone who was a kid once, I realize that after a day of getting to run and jump (the Mech Family always went to Saturday night Mass) it was not always easy to turn down my energy level for a whole hour. My Dad would often give me his keys to play with. I also realize that when kids are getting so fidgety or are crying that they become distracting, the parent should take them out and calm them down.

My faith and my vocation positively benefited from my experience of going to Mass as a little guy. So I would like to share something I saw from a parish in another state:

To the Parents of our young children, may we suggest:  Relax! God put the wiggle in children; don’t feel you have to suppress it in God’s House. Sit toward the front where it’s easier to see and hear. Quietly explain the parts of the Mass. Sing the songs, pray and say the responses. Children learn liturgical behavior by copying you. Feel free to leave Mass with your child if you need to, but please come back! The way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, and to Jesus. Let them know that they are at home in this liturgical gathering.

To the members of the parish: A smile of encouragement and a kind word are always welcomed by parents with small, active children.

God bless,
Fr. J.J.

P.S. Congrats to Scott Kolasa, one of our parishioners who did his project here at St. Anastasia, for receiving his Eagle Scout Award this weekend!