Sunday, May 20, 2012

Keeping "the comfortable" comfortable

Early today, I saw a post from a friend.  All the posted was "Psalm 100 :)"  I had to look it up--I don't know most of the Psalms off the top of my head.  I want to blog about that.  But when I went to 5:30 mass to play today it was uncomfortably hot in the church (despite the fact that the church has air conditioning that we paid a lot to have updated or maintained in capital renovations in the past five years) and the priest said the quickest mass he has ever said.  However, his short (and for him, I'd say VERY short) homily was right on point.  He commented that the Catholic church seemed to have become focused on keeping the comfortable [being] comfortable.  In other words--make sure the congregation keeps coming in.  Don't challenge them too much.  Don't ask too much of them.  And don't focus so much on the needs of the poor.

In fact, he referred us to today's Baltimore Sun main editorial.  It does not seem to be online yet or I'd post a link.  In short, it focuses on the installation of the new Baltimore Archbishop that just occurred.  It points out how integral he has been to efforts to "keep the faith from going too secular".  Nothing wrong with that.  However, it also pointed out the importance of the Catholic church (and by extension Christianity in general) as a religion that has focused on social justice issues and helping the poor.  We can debate how they should be helped and how to encourage self-sufficiency, but charity is a common feature.  The Sun is concerned about whether and how the church will respond to those needs or whether it will focus on other issues that may be important but that do nothing to relieve the "cry of the poor".  Fr. Sam reflected on that in his homily--but rather than lecturing the congregation just left it at that for us to ponder.

Well, I can say that I see at least some Catholic Charity money in action every day I run with Christopher's Place. It is a Catholic Charity facility.  And it, along with Back on My Feet, encourages self-sufficiency among the men there once they get their lives in order.  Of course, that is just a small part of the need and a small part of what Catholic Charities is doing locally.  Key is--the Catholic church is certainly doing something.

However, I can see (to a degree) where the Sun and Fr. Sam are coming from.  The Sun mentions issues like cutting programs that would help the poor to achieve self-sufficiency, capital punishment, and others that might catch the attention of a church interested in social justice.  What I see even in St. Pius is something I raised years ago at a little discussion group with Fr. Sam but I didn't use the same words he did.  While I much prefer the music 40 More Days (the worship band) plays in terms of style when comparing it with  the other "contemporary" choir, the one thing we seemed to get more of with the older choir was songs that challenged us--"The Lord hears the cry of the poor/Blessed by the poor". Or other songs that focus on the Beatitudes.  Many more examples of songs of struggle rather than songs of praise. Many more songs that challenge us that I feel in the more upbeat music that is played at 5:30 mass where I play.  It bugs me because it seems to miss the point.

And yet, since I have few other musical outlets, I am happy to be along for the ride on the music and I don't challenge.  Instead, I try to hear and respond to the cry of the poort, but don't focus so much on pulling others along through the church.  Is that right?  Probably not.  Is it all I have time for?  Unfortunately,  yes.  What will I do about if in the future?  I'm really not sure.

But it makes me think.  As it should.  And the spiritual challenges on following my faith are things that I'll continue to ponder and blog about moving ahead.  As I try, in my own mind, to bring together social justice issues with all the other things that I do in the name of Jesus Christ.  Being thankful for God's grace is one thing.  Living it to the limit is QUITE another. 

No comments:

Post a Comment