Sunday, May 12

I will not complain about liturgy. I will not complain about liturgy. I will simply remember my own sinfulness, mind my own business, and pray.

And thank God I wasn't in this parish yesterday...

Read your comments about the raucous Mother's Day liturgy. Same here in the western suburbs of Chicago, but in addition to the action figure and finger food hoopla, on Mother's Day we are also treated to a mom from the parish delivering the homily. Our pastor has taken to proudly announcing that this has become a tradition in our church (ironic, of course, since Father characterizes most other traditions as the residue of meaningless rules imposed by Rome). So today, in lieu of a sermon on the Ascension (which we were too lazy to celebrate on Thursday), we listened to what has become the annual emotional recounting of some sort of personal crisis - usually a sick child - offered up by a well-meaning woman as an example of what it means to be a mother - results being not a dry eye in the house. Today, instead of a sick child though, we were told, with just a tad too much detail, about this woman's recent hysterectomy and the subsequent discovery of a "disgusting, slime-filled tumor," and about all the nice people who helped her and her family during these difficult times including the friend who came by every day to help change the dressing on the "12" long incision which couldn't be sewn up because . . ." Well, anyway, she summed up this experience by saying how glad she was to be a "member" of this "organization." By which we assumed she meant the Holy Catholic Church, but I suppose it might just as well have been a reference to the local Chamber of Commerce.

At the end of Mass our pastor thanked her again for the wonderful job she had done and told us that the next time "someone in the CHURCH HIERARCHY (the lights are lowered at this point and the Darth Vader Theme is played by our organist) says that the laity, and particularly a woman, does not belong at the pulpit, we should remember what happened here today." An excellent piece of advice that I hope all of my fellow parishioners will keep in mind next month when Father's Day comes around and the calls are made from the rectory for a few dads to do the homily that Sunday.

We now bring you a moment of pastoral sensitivity, institutional repentance and humble responsibility.

Whoops. Scratch that. We now bring you the legal tactics of diocesan lawyers as documented in an article in the Washington Post.

Radio Reminder:

I'll be a guest on Greg Popcak's Heart, Mind and Soul radio program Monday morning at 9:40 Eastern. I think we'll be talking about kids in church...since it's on my heart, mind and soul.

A reader asks why I'm negative about cry rooms.

The answer? Because they provide an space for children to misbehave at Mass with no consequences, and they give parents little incentive to teach children to behave.

And what's the Big Answer to the "problem" of children's behavior at Mass? First, I've been in churches full of little children who were amazingly quiet. Most recently, we attended a small parish a few miles out of town (in a place called Yoder) that was filled to the brim with families. Young families with little children. Probably mostly farm families. Quiet and well-behaved as anything. So why was it? They'd probably been taught to behave, first of all. Secondly, it was a small church, so everyone could see what was going on. But mostly, I'd imagine, they'd been taught.

Mother's Day so far:

One of the most raucous liturgies I've attended in recent years. The usual number of babies and toddlers quadrupled for some reason. Which is fine, except for a) parents who look blankly at a child who's just started to screech, rather than getting the kid out as soon as possible and b) the parents who...

Well, let me just say this. We sat behind two families with a total, I think of seven children. First, there was so much food being passed, munched and slurped in that pew, it was like the buffet at the Golden Corral. Secondly, the toys these people brought - between the Barbies, the crayons, the little cars and the pads of paper, I wondered if anything was left at home.

I've been there. I'm there. I know how difficult it is to go to Mass with young children. Need you be reminded that I have a thirteen-month old? I myself wasn't taken to Mass until I was five years old (Dad wasn't Catholic, mom just left me at home with him. Seems reasonable, if you ask me.) I'm firmly against cry rooms, too. But I think there's got to be a way of dealing with kids (and these kids weren't tiny - they seemed to range in ages from 6 to 3 or so, besides the two babies) in Mass that keeps them interested (which sitting in the back doesn't do - we'll switch to the front once we're past the nursing and sudden screeching stage) yet a) enables them to participate in Mass to the extent that they're able and b) prepares them for fuller participation as time goes on. These parents made no move to have the kids do the sign of the cross, sing anything, listen, even sit still. It was just a constantly moving, eating and squabbling mass.

I was exhausted by the time it was over.

And then my very sweet husband Michael went out and got me Chinese food, which I love, but since I'm the only person in the family who loves, much less likes it, I hardly ever get to eat. He and I shared it at a nicely set table with Joseph rubbing rice in his hair, Katie reading next to me, and David stomping around, doing laundry and generally putting off writing his two papers and studying for his IB history test tomorrow. (Say a prayer for the kid, please!)

And I forgot to mention - my Katie set out a nice breakfast for me this morning, with a gift and a card she'd made alongside: sliced strawberries and bananas, yogurt and a Diet Coke. What more could a Mom ask for?

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there.

Today's a good day to remember a few of the many saints who were mothers:

St. Anne
Mary (of course!)
St. Elizabeth

St. Macrina the Elder
St. Macrina the Younger
St. Monica

St. Helena
Elizabeth of Hungary
Elizabeth of Portugal
Brigid of Sweden

Margaret Clitherow
Margaret of Scotland
Elizabeth Ann Seton
Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla

Poster children for cheap grace? is the way a reader described the kids in this NY Times story about a Boston church youth group:

It was wrong of Cardinal Law to place priests in parishes who were known to have histories of abuse, Will said. But he added: "He needs to be forgiven for what he did. Everyone makes mistakes. If no one ever made mistakes, we wouldn't need Jesus."

A married priest and his defiant flock.
Moving on down the East Coast from Boston....

We find Cardinal Egan, according to the Washington Post, encouraging admitted child molestors to stay in ministry! Yay! No priest shortage here!

Cardinal Edward Egan of New York testified five years ago that he encouraged a priest to continue working and offered to write him a letter of recommendation even though he knew the priest was an admitted sexual abuser.

We can only hope that the Post just might have more enlightening information to share soon....


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