— 1 —
In light of the events this week in which we entered a new age of social media in which it’s no longer ISIS that uses the medium to publish its snuff films, this article written last week by Monsignor Charles Pope holds some truths about how we’ve become more together alone.
The more materially affluent we get, the more spiritually poor we seem to become. The higher our standard of living, the lower our overall morals. The more filled our coffers, the emptier our churches. This is the evil of our times; and it is no theory. The data from the past 60 years demonstrate that as our collective standard of living has risen, church attendance and other signs of belief and spirituality have plummeted; so has family time and the developing of deeper human relationships. Marriage rates have declined drastically while divorces have soared. Birth rates are down. Children are viewed as a burden by a satiated world with a high standard of living.
And it isn’t just wealth; it’s all the things that distract and divert us. Most of these things are lawful pleasures, but it’s often just a case of too much of a good thing.
What if, instead, we were awed by God’s providence and fell to our knees in thanksgiving? What if, in our riches, we prayed and went to church even more, out of sheer gratitude? Alas, this is seldom the case today.
— 2 —
As an answer to that article and video comes a story from my diocese, city, and the neighborhood a few miles from my home. It’s a story/photo essay about the wonderful work put in by a community pulling together to furnish the recently rebuilt St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. Simply put they found joy in community and a purpose.
In the beginning, Father Troy Schweiger simply prayed about his plan.
“I said, ‘OK, God. How are we going to do this?’”
St. Patrick Catholic Church was replacing its old building, which had served Havelock for more than a century. Parishioners were emptying their pockets to pay for the new $5.5 million church, but they asked to do more.
“Almost universally, they kept saying, ‘Here’s our contribution.’ But they always followed up with: ‘If there’s anything I can do to help,'” Schweiger said. “People really wanted to do something that was substantial and meaningful. They wanted to be a part of building the church.”
So he came up with a plan: Parishioners could get involved by building the 69 pews for the new church. And the altar, pulpit, trim, baseboard and baptismal font.
The priest had another motive. By his estimates, the church could save more than $200,000 if it did the work itself.
So in November 2012, Schweiger scouted a creek near Palmyra, found a suitable oak and started his chainsaw.
At the end of the larger photo essay is a section called “Photos: Building a church, one pew at a time.” There are dozens of terrific photos (some of which moved me to tears) as I saw the process of how all of these local people came together. Some came from other city parishes, some were not even Catholic. But this photo and quote really made me smile:
Photo caption: It’s been more than a year since a car was parked in the rectory garage, which has become the woodworking shop for Schweiger and his mainstay volunteers. Here, Don Archer (left) listens to an impromptu homily from Mike Long, in the unfinished pulpit. The laughter is revealing, Schweiger said. “There’s joy. It’s not just drudgery. These people have come to know each other so deeply and so profoundly because they’ve worked with their hands to create something beautiful.”
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Since it’s his feast day I’ll quote St. Augustine:
When large numbers of people share their joy in common, the happiness of each is greater because each adds fuel to the other’s flame.
That common joy is evident in those pictures. Joy is something I used to write about on my Facebook page. It’s perhaps the most valuable commodity a person can possess. One that the world is constantly trying to rip from our grasps. Some of us give it up all too easily or even willingly. Some never discover they have it at all. It is easy to take Joy for granted and when we do it slips through our fingers like water.
If you pray the Divine Office each day you’ll begin The Office of Readings (or Matins) by praying Psalm 94 (or 95 in the Hebrew numbering). It begins:
Come, let us praise the Lord with joy; let us joyfully sing to God our Saviour. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and with psalms let us sing our joy to Him.
Don’t forget praise and thanksgiving.
— 4 —
I used to drink a pot of coffee a day. I bought beans, ground them each morning, and brewed and drank an entire pot (because I felt I had to). Five years ago I bought a Keurig and joined the K-Cup crowd. I still use it each morning (and brew two cups on weekend mornings while I pray/read outside), but I do miss grinding those beans. Anyhow, here’s what happens to your body within an hour of drinking a cup of coffee.
— 5 —
If you close your eyes you’ll forget that the sounds you hear is one kid playing an accordion.
— +1 Bonus —
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another beautiful new addition to our Catholic Church family here in Lincoln. Sadly I’ve been too busy to visit either of the two new churches in town, but have made plans to fix that this fall. This should have been #5 but I get the biggest kick out of the kid on the accordion. Must be the Czech in me.
You’ll find the story and some beautiful photos in the July edition of the Adoremus Bulletin. Click on the link to open the PDF file to read the story (and view the gorgeous photographs) that begins on page 6.
I was privileged a few years ago on a cold winter night to be part of a panel discussion on marriage presented to the men and women of the old Newman Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It is a truly dynamic place and there’s nothing like it. I personally know several of the people in this video and am thrilled for what they accomplished with the help of so many benefactors. As expected, there is a crush of couples wanting to have their weddings take place at St. Thomas Aquinas and while attending the wedding of a friend’s daughter a few weeks ago at St. Teresa’s learned that on that day there were three weddings scheduled at St. Thomas: 1pm, 3pm and 5pm. And that’s pretty much a normal Saturday so far.
Within this short video of the Mass of Dedication highlights from this April is a brief time-lapse video showing the construction.
There is no place like Nebraska.
Adoremus Bulletin Hat tip: David Clayton at The Way of Beauty.