Far from the Maddening Crowd

I am spending a week far from the maddening crowd. I find myself in a rural county with less than 15 COVID cases, visiting family.

This slowdown comes on the heels of losing my job due to downsizing by the company I worked for the previous three years. Taking that job in 2017 led me out of the nation’s most populous city to a small borough in a neighboring state.

This week of welcome exile brings me encounters with grandsons, chickens and rabbits, far from the maddening crowd.

Unfortunately, my penchant for staying connected and the responsibilities I have back home inform me of the increasing instability of our time. There will always be those who take full advantage of a crisis for their own aims and not necessarily what is best for the general welfare.

Statue of St. Junípero Serra pulled down in Los Angeles

This becomes especially worrisome when those entrusted with governance and spiritual guidance cower to the maddening crowd. We await our government leaders to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to protect and defend us, yet they seem more focused on safeguarding their political futures.

We look to spiritual leaders to lead us in truth with courage and they respond with sophistries and point out that their hands are tied—it’s up to the laity! That response is honestly worst than the former. That is not what they are called to.

So what do we do? For the first group we have the ballot box. We are no longer silent. We don’t wait around for the next French or Cultural Revolution. For the second group we turn to our Lord, we pray, we take up spiritual arms, and we stand in vigil before our churches and the glorious reminders of the symbols of our faith. We remember those before us who gave their utmost for the kingdom of God and the social kingship of Christ. I think of the Vendeans in France (1790s) and the Cristeros in Mexico (1920s).

As Christians face our own challenges in 2020, hopefully a remnant of our spiritual leaders will come out of hiding, honor Christ, embrace suffering and join us!

¡Viva Cristo Rey!

St. Junipero Serra, pray for us!

Saint Junipero Serra
Catholic Saint Junipero Serra, canonized by Pope Francis in 2015 during his papal visit to the United States

At the canonization of Fr. Junipero Serra, Pope Francis said, “Junipero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it.” Fr. Serra established nine missions from San Diego to San Francisco. He is know as the Apostle of California.

God most high, your servant Junipero Serra brought the gospel of Christ to the peoples of Mexico and California and firmly established the Church among them. By his intercession, and through the example of his apostolic zeal, inspire us to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I’m a doorkeeper

For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than live in the tents of wickedness
(Psalm 84:10 NRSVCE)

Last weekend our parish reinstated Masses after a three-month hiatus due to the pandemic. Right on the heels of the return of the weekend Mass was a return to daily Mass, something I treasured every day until March 18. The 6:45 a.m. Mass was my daily time to encounter our Lord–Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. That daily meeting with Jesus made the difference in my day. Suddenly that encounter was no longer possible! How my heart yearned for our Lord!

Returning to Mass was not a return to what we experienced pre-March 18. Social distancing must be practiced, masks are expected, and seniors and those who in poor health are discouraged from attending. In the midst of all this I have been heartened to see my brothers and sisters returning with hunger, courage and vigor.

I have a new role at daily Mass in this post-pandemic world. I am an usher, or as I prefer to think “a doorkeeper in the house of my God.” What a joy to greet folks as they walk through the open front door (to minimize touching surfaces) and give them a hidden smile (behind my mask) and open the door into the nave (again to minimize contact with surfaces).

My duties also include dismissing each pew to go forward to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. My heart sings for joy as I watch my fellow parishioners partake of the Bread of Life!

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness! I trust you have had a blessed Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus! And that you have been able to return to the house of our God.