Monday, March 9, 2009

The Top Five List of Things I Love About My Church

Good Morning, friends! Yesterday while at Church, I kept thinking how easy it is to complain about things and people at Church, yet there is so much I love about my Church. (I know! Distraction, or inspiration from the Holy Spirit? Not sure. I probably should have been concentrating harder on the Mass) It is easy to get stuck in the rutt of complaining about programs, gossip, preaching style, music, architecture, and the list goes on. Many of these things do need to be addressed. But, I had to ask myself, have I addressed these things so much that joy has stopped shining through? I reallly do love my Church. So, I decided to start a meme (is that allowed? To start a meme on one's own? It seems these things just get passed around without an orgin.): Five things I love about my Church. Some of what I will list is (or should be) true of any Catholic Church, some is unique to my parish, St. Monica in Chicago. (There, I've said it. Now they can find me.....)
1) Holy Communion. I love being united with Christ and His people in Holy Communion. I love the way that during those moments, I can sit silently with the Lord and easily be at peace in a way that is not so easy otherwise. I start lifting my prayers, and I feel HIm say "Shhhhh. I know. Just be. I know....". Then I just thank Him....and I don't need to make a list. I can just feel thankful, and know He knows....
2) The Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is also known as Confession. I love going to Confession. The cleansing experience is true for any Catholic Church, but St. Monica is unique because....
Fr. Andrew--Here is a priest who smiles during Confession (did I mention I like to go face to face?) and assures before during and afterward that Jesus is so happy to forgive me. He reminds me of the story about how the angels rejoice in Heaven when a sinner repents. He seems to be rejoicing through the whole Confession.
Fr. Ted--He has given me some great advice during Confession. He is a wise man.
Fr. William--He knows how to tell it like it is. He'll come right out and say (but gently), yeah, that was pretty bad, but God forgives you. He loves you. Don't do it again. Like Jesus had said "go forth and sin no more..."
Fr. Jim--He balances the four strengths of the others pretty well. One doesn't seem to pop out, but I can think of examples of all three with him.
Somehow, I have been blessed to have the right Confessor there at the right time.
3)This Sunday we filled out cards to our Senators and Representatives asking them to fight FOCA. It is a losing battle in IL, yet we are encouraged to fight the good fight. And the homily was about why abortion is wrong, with a reminder that Jesus forgives all sins, including abortion. Father also let us know what help was available in the Archdiocese for women who had already had abortions.
I was glad to hear a prolife homily preached, but even more glad that hurting women were invited to healing..
4) Our pastor preaches on the evil of gossip. Often. And boy, can my parish use it! There is this one woman named Helen, who thought she was above such things, but boy is she wrong! She gossipped about someone a couple of weeks ago, and.....hopefully you figured out that I am that Helen. I am so ashamed. I confessed my sin, and I know God forgives me. What I don't know is whether the person I talked about knows what I did. I suspect so, and I long to apologize. I long to ask this person for forgiveness. I think this person's behavior toward me changed, but what if it is just my guilty conscience? What if I am just hurting someone else in order to feel better? I can't make this right. Even Fr. Jim ( remember above? He incorporates many gifts during the Sacrament of Reconciliation) could only advise me to pray. There are many good stories to illustrate what makes gossip bad. The point of all of them is that it is humanly impossible to make it right again. I wish I paid attention to that before I partook in it.
5) Our pastor, Father Ted, became a priest later in life. I think he was in his fifties, which I don't mean to suggest is old, but he certainly experienced the outside world before becoming a priest. It is not that I don't respect priests who started young, because I do. But I appreciate the fact that when Fr. Ted speaks, there is no dismissing him by silently claiming he is sheltered. He worked in Hollywood...he has seen more of life than this 39 year old married woman. Whether I think his homily is the most brilliant one uttered by man since St. John Vianney, or .......not, dismissing him would not only be a sin on my part, it would be naive. (How is that for an oxymoron---sinful naivete?)

How about you? What do you love about your Church? I know we could probaby go up to 25, 50, even 100 things, but, in the interest of time and space, let's keep it to the top five things please.


katdish said...

1) The fellowship of believers. We're all wretched sinners saved by Grace. The fact that we can openly admit that and don't feel the need to appear uber holy is freeing.

2) Our point and our process: Love, Live, Serve. That is, Love God and each other, Live in community with one another, and Serve the World. We keep things very simple and uncomplicated. Which is a good thing for someone who is easily distracted.

3) The music. LOVE it. It doesn't hurt that many in our core group once played together in another praise band.

4) How we approach outreach: see a need, then do what we can to help. No in-depth studies and analysis. Just help.

5) The diversity of our members: engineers, musicians, teachers, artists, married couples, single moms, etc. with the commonality of desiring to grow into a deeper relationship with God and each other.

Gabrielle Eden said...

I just wrote out five things and then the wireless or blogger or whatever, spit out my comments! Ach!

1) I can wear jeans
2) The pastor is laid back, funny and not a heavy authority figure
3) The music is contemporary
4) The worship invites God's presence - number 1!
5) I see some of my favorite people there

Annie K said...

I can wear shorts. And thongs. (Ok, inside joke.)

The people are awesome and it's a mixed bag.

It's a huge church, but I feel like that is my family.

They serve the community. Anyway they can.

The pastor believes in supporting pastors from other churches.

They stress simplicity...loving God and loving people.

There isn't a bunch of rules...just live what God teaches in the Bible.

Awesome worship music - and yes, it's an important thing to me.

I've been going there since I was 16 and I have great mentors and friends.

Annie K said...

Uh, party foul I guess since I listed more than 5. ;)

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Great post, Helen. I'm sure your pastor would love to see your list!

Helen said...

Katdish , Gabrielle, and Annie, thank you for writing your lists. I feel encouraged again.

Matt, thanks. I will think about sending it to him. On the other hand, I am not sure he would appreciate my critique on confessional skills of various priests in my parish. But then, I could be wrong. Only one way to find out...