Make no mistake… Deacon Tom does appreciate beauty! The beauty of the Mass and Eucharist… the beauty of God’s creation… and all too humanly I’ll add… the beauty of God’s creation of the opposite sex!
And so – a while back… on a nice summer day, I had a meeting at the parish office with a lady. I had only spoken to her on the phone. The subject of our meeting was that this lady wanted to secure a letter recommending her to another parish for this lady to be a baptismal sponsor.
When I came to the office – she was waiting. She was beautiful! Tall and slender and dressed in a diaphanous, filmy outer material which covered an attractive yellow print dress. She had long, very long, black hair and large dark eyes. She could have been a model – she certainly looked like one. (Almost as lovely as Allyson!)
Once into our meeting, she began to tell me how she was reared in the Catholic Faith and how it was important to her. She said she read the Bible just about every day… and she did pray every day. It sounded as if she would make a wonderful role model as a baptismal sponsor.
Now I happened to notice that she didn’t say anything about the Mass, so when I got the opportunity to ask about this, she became a wee bit emotional. Her eyes started to moisten as she admitted that her work (in a profession that does have off and on hours) kept her from getting to church as much as she should. But those other things… the Bible reading, the prayers… she even mentioned fasting. I certainly tried to be an understanding deacon as I looked at this diaphanously dressed Catholic lady.
Fade to black… and here comes a later, second session with this lady. It seems she and the other family members wanted to have the baptism at our parish rather than the previously discussed plan. It seems that the other parish wasn’t too welcoming because there is more to the story. The other (parent) family had some church-practice issues. And this proposed baptismal sponsor hadn’t told me everything. It came out that she had been going to another (non-Catholic) church pretty often. AND — she has been married twice, both times in civil marriages. She had never gotten an annulment of her first marriage.
I guess I was flabbergasted that I hadn’t found this out before. As gently as I could, I said it didn’t sound as if she was a practicing Catholic at all. Now I’ve done it. Now the diaphanous lady was really emotional and crying. Why was the church being so legalistic? What was she supposed to do? Stay in a first marriage where she was physically and emotionally abused? And no, she hadn’t been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And what did I mean she shouldn’t be receiving the Eucharist?
All of a sudden – this model – this beautiful lady was pretty upset with the Catholic Church. It wasn’t loving like some other churches she had been to. Hadn’t Jesus already forgiven our sins?
Dear Catholic Family podcast friends… do you understand what has happened with a sizeable segment of our brothers and sisters who have created a homemade faith tailored exactly to their wishes and circumstances? No rules? No laws. No worries… be happy. Until the Church tries to say, “I’m sorry – that’s not being Catholic.”
Catholics come together each week… it’s not a choice. And in our brokenness and sinfulness – we worship together as family. We do our best to practice what the Lord and the Church teaches. When we fail, we go to Confession. We can’t make up rules like three year old children playing the game Candyland.
You may not know that there are people who practice this sort of Christian faith. But in any way – are you like the lady in the diaphanous dress? Have you created a sort of deodorized Christianity?
We need to pray. We need to evangelize. We need to give example and be willing to state with firmness what we believe… who we are. I’d like to hear from you. I really would.
Blessings. Deacon Tom