Sunday, July 9, 2017

Roaming Catholics: Church Hopping with Purpose

John, Kevin, and I at St. Michael on May 28, 2017,
after John gave his first Sunday homily at his home parish.
Kevin and I have been what some might refer to as roaming Catholics.  In recent months, we’ve been to a number of churches in the area for Mass: the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, St. Bridget, St. Edward, St. Peter, St. Patrick, St. John in Highland Springs, (the Robins Center at the University of Richmond) as well as our home parish, St. Michael.  I’ve also been to St. Mary, the Pastoral Center chapel, and Little Sisters of the Poor for daily Mass. 

Why have we been hopping from one church to another?  

Sometimes, we’ve done so to participate in a special event, such as an ordination or St. Michael’s 25th Anniversary Mass.  On other Saturdays and Sundays, we’ve made our Mass plans around where and when our best friend/brother in Christ Deacon John Baab will be preaching. 

I’ve always enjoyed going to different churches to see how beautiful and unique they are, to hear a variety of preaching styles, and to see people I wouldn’t normally.  Kevin and I have been to all of the churches I mentioned above before now, typically for Cursillo Ultreyas.  Through our involvement with Cursillo, we have gotten to know people from many different parishes throughout our Diocese and visited a number of churches in Richmond and the surrounding areas. 
We go to Mass each week to receive the Word of God and a person, Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.  Regardless of where we go, the Scripture readings will likely be the same as they are everywhere else in the world that particular day, and we can count on taking part in the Communion celebration.  An added bonus is a thought-provoking homily.  

We’ve been popping up where John’s been preaching because we know he has a knack for teaching and sharing the faith.  We knew he would be good at giving homilies, but we didn’t know he’d be quite this good so soon. 

Last evening, we met our dear friends and spiritual directors Dick and Jeannine at St. John in Highland Springs for Mass.  They had to attend a funeral the morning of John’s ordination, so they hadn’t gotten a chance to see him since he’d been ordained, nor had they heard him preach.  All of us agreed his homily on God’s love, our neediness as humans, the psychology of addictions, and the ways we can be vulnerable with the Lord was quite powerful and very moving. 
Kevin and I were considering going back again this morning at 9am to hear the homily one more time.  I’m sure John would be happy to give me his notes, but that wouldn’t be the same as having a recording of his reflection on the Scripture and remedy for distance from God.

When I saw the notice that male candidates are needed for the upcoming Men’s Cursillo Weekend, I immediately thought about how wonderful it would be if some of the seminarians, recently ordained priests, and transitional deacons were to make their weekend this July.  Kevin and I got to know John and a number of our closest friends through Cursillo since 2006.  Many of the laypeople who are most involved at their parishes and in the Diocese have made a Cursillo.  It has been a great way for priests, deacons, and religious to connect on a deeper level with devout laypeople from around our Diocese.

Some of the biggest areas of spiritual growth in our lives have come about as a direct result of our involvement in Cursillo and Christ Renews His Parish retreats.  Those faith families are from whom I learned about Transformation Prayer Ministry, Spiritual Direction Institute, and the importance of working one-on-one with a spiritual director. 

So often we try to create something from scratch when we see a need.  Cursillo is already in place.  The methods, materials, and principles have been used for years throughout the world to provide adults with a short course in Christianity that helps them renew their devotion to Christ. 

Community and accountability are important if we want to learn, grow, and make progress in anything, including our spiritual lives.  We live in a world where moral relativism is more rampant than Biblical values.  If we are listening to the same music, watching the same TV shows, going to the same movies, then we will begin to think like everybody else.  If we take time for prayer, spiritual reading, Christian relationships, community worship, and holy friendships, then our thoughts and our lives will be more God-centered.

My Prayer: Lord, please help us be open to all of the ways in which You wish for us to draw closer to You.  Let us make an effort to choose our media, how we spend our time and money more wisely, so that our thoughts, words, and actions reflect Gospel values instead of so-called worldly wisdom.  Give us the courage to “be still and know you are God” (Psalm 46:10).  Amen.
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