I need to share an observation and give an explanation in advance of this evening's post. First the observation: I find it very important to be as positive as possible in a world and at a time that is filled with negativity. I try to look at the best in a situation and not get caught up in complaining. Tonight may be an exception. An explanation as to why this may be so on this day is that it has been a long day of minor frustrations and now we have a leaden sky that looks like it is about to rain on us, heightening the gloom. Bear with me.
I find the lack of commitment and involvement of people in matters of importance in varying aspects of daily life to be disheartening. Let me give a few examples. Today is Primary Election Day in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I went to my polling place around ten o'clock this morning. There are just over five hundred registered voters listed at that polling place (I asked the crew). At 10:00 am I was number twenty-one to vote. The final results are still an hour away. The people working the elections were bored and we spoke of the staggeringly small turnout to that point in time. Maybe there was an influx later (I doubt it). Granted, it is a primary election. Granted, politics is filled with partisanship and negativity. But this is the most sacred duty and wonderful right of a citizen in this great Republic. Today is simply an echo of most elections turnouts. Sad.
As I mentioned in a previous post, last Thursday Bishop Lawrence Brandt celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation in the neighboring parish with our youngsters and those of Saint Regis. The Bishop gave a lengthy homily that touched on many points, with a strong emphasis on encouraging the candidates to take seriously their Faith and reminding them that the best and most important way of doing this was to worship the Lord within the community of believers at Sunday Eucharist. He reminded the parents of their responsibility to bring their families to the Table of the Lord. He told the Sponsors that they need to be a catalyst and a good example and assure that their charges attend Mass. That was on Thursday. On the weekend I asked at each Mass that those who had been Confirmed stand so that we could recognize them. Between all three Masses we had less than ten kids stand. There were twenty-seven of our youngsters Confirmed.
The previous Sunday, following two great celebrations of First Holy Communion, I did the same thing - ask those who had received to stand and be recognized. During the three Masses there were maybe ten who stood, again out of twenty-seven.
Then there are the empty seats at Mass. With the number of registered parishioners (who specifically want to belong) we average 800/900 for the three Masses out of the 3,300 on the books. And unfortunately, we are not that exceptional. Then count those who arrive late and/or leave early and you need to ask the question - Why?
There are a thousand and one reasons, excuses, causes for such actions. Some may even have some validity. But the basic question, which as a pastor I struggle with, is the neglect shown to the absolute necessity of this core experience of the encounter with God, the centrality of the Sunday Eucharist, the commitment to the mission of being a disciple and the negating of what is essential. Pope Francis on Monday tweeted: "The one who listens attentively to the Word of God and truly prays, always asks the Lord - What is your will for me?" It would seem that by our actions we are asking "What is my will for you, Lord?" I think we have things twisted, and I am afraid.