Tuesday, December 28, 2010

St. Andrew the Apostle Parish

It seems my family and I only like going to mass in the evening---we normally only go Saturday or Sunday evening.  Since, our own parish doesn't have a Sunday evening mass it gives us an opportunity to try out different parishes that do have an evening mass.  This last Sunday we had the opportunity to try out St. Andrew the Apostle in Gladstone.  Now this post isn't meant to serve as a parish review or critique.   I just wanted to comment on my experience and that I found it very interesting, especially in regard to a blog I read last week.

The first thing I noticed, as you'd notice walking into any church, is the church's appearance.  My first impression is that it reeked of a post-Vatican II church.  It seemed very . . . sanitary??.  It has an arch ceiling but with those square ceiling tiles on it.  But then I noticed it wasn't as it first seemed.  The area around the altar was beautiful and very reverent.   The golden tabernacle was right in the middle (as it should be) surrounded by two statues of angels bowing down in adoration.  To the left and right of the altar were statues of Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.

I'd go into more detail about things but the most exciting thing was the reverence shown to the Blessed Sacrament.  This isn't to chastise other parishes or say they do things wrong. I'm just interested about what I saw different at St. Andrews.  Like I said above, the tabernacle is gold and right in the middle, where you cannot miss it.  Even more interesting was what was in front of the altar---kneelers.  Yes, right where you come up to receive communion are two kneelers so that you can kneel to receive the Eucharist.  I couldn't help but think of Danielle Beans article earlier in the week, "Why I'm Giving Up Communion on the Tongue."  Danielle said she is giving up receiving communion on the tongue because it is too difficult.  Well, here is a parish--that's not doing the Triditine Mass--but is, by offering kneelers, encouraging taking communion on the tongue.  After all, it almost seems natural to take it on the tongue when you are kneeling.  You don't have to kneel though---or take communion on the tongue.  You can still stand or you can kneel and still take it in the hand.

Another thing, I noticed were the altar servers helped with communion by holding pattens to catch any pieces of the Blessed Sacrament that fell.  Then, when the Extraordinary Minister who was next to the priest ran out of hosts, the priest took over both lines (even though they were both still long) instead of giving him more.  Finally, after communion, the priest took a couple of minutes and cleaned the vessels before sitting down.   Nothing seemed rushed.  I felt very much like they were truly making the Eucharist the source and summit of the mass

Another thing, I noticed about St Andrews is it's confession schedule.  They have confession on Mondays at noon, Wednesday's at 5:30, and Saturdays at 3:15.   As a fan of confession, I found this great.  I think I'll still keep going to Msgr. Blacet but it's always nice to know of a parish that has confession throughout the week for when I'm in a pinch.

I was turned onto St. Andrew's Sunday evening mass because a month earlier their youth program was highlighted at the Kansas City Catholic Youth Conference.  I had been discussing it with a friend and we wondered why they were doing so good.  Was it their use of Life Teen? Was it their Sunday evening mass before youth group?  I'm not positive--but I wonder if having a parish that welcomes it's youth as well as putting emphasis on the sacraments may have something to do with it.

Those were just some thoughts and observations.  Again, I'm not criticizing any other parish (And I've been to  nearly all of them in the northland of Kansas City now)  I was just pointing out some interesting things and things I think this parish is getting right.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Fires of Hell

I have a little confession to make.  It's okay---I already took it to the confessional.  I missed mass for a few weeks--and including the Holy Day of Obligation on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  I know, I know, I know--I'm a horrible Catholic, a horrible husband and a horrible father.  What was really bad?? I didn't miss mass.  I was nice to sit at home and relax.  It was nice, at least, until the next time I went to mass.  You see, I hadn't gone to reconciliation before going to mass.  Since I had missed mass, I was in a state of mortal sin and not able to receive communion.   All I could think about during mass was, "If the Eucharist is a taste of Heaven then not being able to receive the Eucharist must be a taste of Hell."

Now, I'm not going to sit her and say that sitting through mass and not taking communion is Hell.  I'm saying it's a small taste of Hell.  No way it compares to the loneliness, sadness and despair of what Hell must be like just like I'm not sure the Eucharist can come close to the happiness, completeness and joy that it's like to be in Heaven.   There are similarities though.  Those in Hell, are cut off--by their own choices--from the love of God.  I was at mass and cut off--because of my own choices--from receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.   Obviously, there were some differences.  I was with family, so I was able to feel love.  I knew that all I had to do to be forgiven was to go to confession, so I was able to have hope.

I'm not sure people are afraid of Hell like they should. Obviously, I'm not or else I wouldn't have missed mass knowing full well that spiritual state it would put me in.  But I hear people joke saying, "I'll see you in hell" or one local radio DJ who said, "If you are going to go to Hell, don't go small and just barely get in--go big so there is no doubt!"  Okay, I'm not going to play the prude--I'm sitting here telling you that up until last Thursday, I was in a state of mortal sin.   I know he was saying it tongue in cheek and for a laugh but considering his whole show revolves around "sex, drugs and rock and roll" I'm pretty sure I can say that there was some seriousness behind it too.   In essence, he was saying, "party now and worry about the consequences later."  

This type of thinking seems crazy doesn't it? That we can think, "I'd rather do A, B and C now, for a short period, and spend eternity without love, without happiness, without hope."   I see people who don't feel like they have love, happiness or hope and I certainly don't want to live eternally like that.  But that's the choice we make when we sin.  

Fortunately, all God wants is our salvation and for us to be reconciled with Him so He makes it very easy for us to reconcile with Him.  It's just up to us to choose Him over ourselves.