Catholic Community Commentary

Archive for July, 2010

You’re wearing THAT to church?

What to wear, what to wear?  Things sure were more simple years ago when we had three options: school clothes, work clothes and, what we in the Hoying family called, “Sunday, go to meeting clothes”, the best outfit in the closet.  

What to wear in New Zealand was easier also as nearly every school had uniforms.  From Monday through Friday the same outfit was worn.  But now, it’s the weekend and what do you wear to church?  There’s always something to do right after church, like a ballgame, a neighborhood gathering, a movie or other social events.  And if you are like me, you hate to keep changing clothes.  And it’s Summer.  How much clothes do I have to wear to be considered dignified for church?  

What to wear, what to wear? Even in workplaces, fashion has changed.  Wearing of a tie and business suit is rare.  What is the proper fashion for a church setting?  When considering an outfit I always try to consider that going to church is a community gathering to give praise to God.

If my outfit distracts from the worship, I’m probably wearing the wrong clothes.  If I were to wear a skirt to church in Fiji or Samoa it would not distract from worship. If I wore a skirt here, all the women would be jealous of my legs, and the prayer would be distracted (ha ha).  Sometimes clothing or lack of clothing needs to be considered when determining what to wear to church.  God will hear my prayers no matter what I wear, but if my outfit prevents others from praying, I’m probably not looking out for my neighbor as well as I should.

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How Prayer led Fr. Mark to the Priesthood

When people ask me how I knew that I wanted to be a priest, I tell them that it was in me.  That feeling has been in me for a while.  Believe me, to give up farming, a wife and kids and a permanent home were hard decisions to make.  I took lots of time to answer these questions with the help of deep prayer.  There were many times I asked God if He was sure because I surely wasn’t that certain.  But when I came down to looking at what was in me, priesthood still came out
When I needed that time to pray deeply, just God and me, I would go to a special place.  At the back of the farm was a corner of property which was not farmed because of a crossing creek.  Small trees, brush, rabbits, deer and lots of song birds were my companions in prayer.  I’d take time out to sit and listen to what was in me and see what was true.  If truth was to set me free, I’d have to listen to God, the Truth.  I’d spend time to see what I could live with or without.  I knew God wished me to live life to the fullest, I just had to figure that out and how I would do that.  As the idea of priesthood kept coming to mind I figured I better give it a shot.  It was only through time in prayer that I could say that it was in me. 
One other reflection was that the tractor was always a special place to pray until something happened-we got a radio on the tractor.  I loved music and would sing loud enough to hear me over the diesel engine and for the neighbors to hear me.  My question for especially the young bloggers is, where do you find your quiet place?  How do you know what is in you so that you can live life to the fullest?  With so many music opportunities out there, and distractions to quiet, where do you pray best? 

Top 5 Reasons to Attend Mass

It’s funny how our attendance at Mass has always been associated with the 10 Commandments, particularly to “Keep Holy the Lord’s Day,” when actually it is for our benefit not God’s. With that in mind, here are five motives to go to Church on Sunday:

  1. 1. To feed a spiritual life – We often hear “I can pray better at home or in the mountains or alone.” Prayer at anytime is wonderful and necessary, but prayer at Mass is unique. It is God’s children gathering to share a meal. One form is not ‘better’ than another but ‘as important’ as the other. We need both types of food to nourish us.
  2. 2. To draw on God’s support – Much like any meal, we are strengthened and renewed to continue our work when we have eaten. If we dine on a meal of foul language and rude behavior, much like junk food, it will have its effect. If we enjoy a meal of God’s Word and the Body & Blood of Christ, it also will have its effect. In the case of Sunday Mass, we are gathering the nourishment we need for eternal life.
  3. To develop community – Just like any family gathering, we need to come together to strengthen our bonds and ties to one another. Just consider how much closer you are to brothers, sisters, or parents whom you see more regularly, as opposed to cousins and grandparents that you might not. 
  4. To strengthen one another – The whole reason for strengthening our bonds and ties through our gathering for Sunday Mass is to be able to support one another. How would I know you without gathering with you? And how can I reach out to you if I don’t know you? We are the physical presence of God in this world, so it’s important to be with one another to do His work.
  5. To worship God – When it comes right down to it, we are built for LOVE. We have an interior desire and pull toward God, who is Love. We often try to fill that desire with things or activities, but we always come away wanting more – that intangible something.  St. Augustine said it best, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

Why should we go to Church on Sunday? For very selfish reasons, to bring about our own peace and joy. God knows that. He even made it a commandment for our sake.

What are your personal reasons for attending mass? Please share them in the comments below.


Tomorrow is Today

I often hear that our youth is the church of tomorrow.  I never understood why the youth aren’t the church of today.  Why do they have to wait?  If our faith is somehow tied to the childlike there needs to be room for the children today.  All of us need to celebrate with a childlike faith and vitality.

It has been my pleasure and honor to work with young people throughout my 25 years of priesthood.   Youth retreats, school Masses, vacation bible schools, living rosaries and stations of the cross for youth have all been ways in which faith has come alive for the different parishes I have been in.  It is not only the youth who are renewed in faith.  Many times God speaks through these young people to enliven the faith of a parish.

Here, in Kalida, and hopefully at St. John the Baptist we have already begun the youth movement of faith.  It is exciting for me to hear children volunteer for Stations of the Cross, to record vast numbers of first time servers, lectors and Eucharistic ministers from Jr. high and high school and to have kids coming over to the rectory for Friday Night Frenzies and ping pong.

As a parish, we need to continue to grow our kids in their faith.  We need to be open to childlike ways that may include different styles of music and worship forms. Several of our youth have inquired about a mission trip to Africa.  I love it.

My favorite story about the children of today comes from Children’s Hospital in Columbus.  For the Sunday Mass the children who were patients always got the opportunity to preach if they wanted.  One girl preached 3 weeks in a row until she was released from the hospital.   A five year old said that she would like to recite the 23rd psalm that she learned in Bible School.  She did it perfectly and the adults heard a new way of hearing that the Lord was the shepherd of a five year old girl. It was lovely.

Let us pray and encourage our young people to embrace our Catholic faith.  I challenge the young people to praise God with your band instruments and your voices.  If our parish can help you grow in childlike faith, let me know. Please share your favorite stories about children worshipping in the comments.