Many Catholics experience their religion as dreary, boring and joyless.
One reason is the importance we give to fulfilling our Sunday obligation. It
is important. Obligations are necessary in life. They are a kind of safety
net. There are many times in life when we just don¡¦t feel like doing what
we should do. Obligations help us through such times. If we only went to
work and school when we felt like it, there would be a lot of no-shows in
At the same time, a religion that never gets beyond the fulfilment of a list
of obligations is bound to be joyless. Religious practice of that kind is like
the attitude of children who ask, whenever they are asked to do
something they don¡¦t like: ¡§Do I have to?¡¨ are people without joy. They
pester priests with questions like these:
¡§Is it a sin, Father?¡¨
¡§Father, so and so told me I should, but now things have changed.
Do I still have an obligation?¡¨
¡§The hotel I¡¦m staying in is five miles from the nearest Catholic Church,
do we have to go to Mass on Sunday?¡¨
People who pose questions like these are really asking how little they can
do and still keep on the right side of God. People who brush aside all
sense of religious obligation as of no consequence have even more serious
questions to answer. They reveal an attitude of mind that says, ¡§I know
what is best.¡¨ ¡§I am the last word.¡¨ ¡§I do what I like.¡¨ The problem about
doing what you like is that you don¡¦t always like what you do!
Jesus never asked: ¡§Do I have to?¡¨ He fulfilled his obligations because he
was constantly asking not how little he could do for God but how much.
The issue is never what we do for God but rather what God has done for
us. We keep God¡¦s laws not because we have to but because we want to
in order to show our gratitude for the love he lavishes on us even before
we have earned it. The Mass is the great act of Thanksgiving that we offer
to God because in, with and through Christ, we offer, all honour and glory
to God forever and ever.
I was vesting for Mass one morning in Mountjoy prison. The young man
who was serving the Mass noted the small attendance. He felt bad about
the turn out and wanted to console me. He told me a story about the
great Irish actor Aengus McMaster, who used to travel the country bringing
the great Shakespearean plays to the towns and villages. He was in a
small town in Cavan and told one of the local drama groups that he
needed twenty extras to do Hamlet. Off she went in search of local talent
but reported back, apologetically, that she could only get two extras. The
great McMaster said,
¡§With just two extras we will play Hamlet.¡¨ My prisoner friend
said: ¡§Father, even with just a few of us we will have the Mass.¡¨
Laws cannot make people love me but they can keep them from lynching
me - and that¡¦s pretty important.~ Martin Luther King Jn.
A devout religious man fell on hard times. So he prayed: ¡§Lord, remember
all the years I served you as best I could, asking for nothing in return.
Now that I am old and bankrupt I am going to ask you for a favour for the
first time in my life and I am sure you will not say NO. Allow me to win the
Lottery.¡¨ Days passed. Then weeks and months. But nothing happened.
Finally, almost driven to despair, he cried out one night, ¡§Why don¡¦t you
give me a break, God?¡¨ He suddenly heard the voice of God replying, ¡§Give
me a break yourself! Why don¡¦t you buy a lottery ticket?¡¨
Preacher: ¡§We have just had the greatest revival our Church has
experienced in many years.¡¨
Colleague: ¡§How many did you add to your Church attendance?¡¨
¡§None. We lost five hundred.¡¨
Jesus would have applauded.
We always want the biggest, the finest, the most. Jesus took the least for
God is always ready but we are unready. God is near us but we are far
from him. God is in, we are out. God is at home, we are abroad.~
8am: The 8am daily Mass resume on Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday 28th February 2001.
Blessed ashes will be distributed after all Masses.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence.
Stations of the Cross: Each Friday at 7.30pm.
Special for Lent: Fasting for the Hungry.
We are inviting everybody to set aside one day each week of Lent to
fast (according to each ones individual means) and channel the money
saved to help the victims of the horrific earthquake in India last month.
Fr. Maurice Fearon, O.P. , a scripture scholar has accepted an
invitation to give a three day workshop, March 5,6,& 7th on the Bible.
Please make a note of these dates. More information at a later date.
Full selection of Confirmation and Communion prayer books, beads,
rosettes and souvenirs now in stock.