On this very quiet and peaceful night(at least at my house) before Mardi Gras, I feel moved, to share some lessons I've learned, maybe perceptions, personal growth, whatever this turns out to be. This may turn out to be more of a rant and it certainly is not meant to be mean spirited. In fact, this incredible tug I feel tonight to share is something I am discerning even as I type. Perhaps by the end of this, I will know why/how the Holy Spirit is involved in this. So here goes:
First things first; I really have come to despise most of what we have turned Mardi Gras to be; a raucous, foul-mouthed, drunken orgy that encourages an attitude of anything goes. From a young child, a teenager, even a young father, I lived for Mardi Gras activities. I always got the impression back in the day that my kids and my wife just went along to help me satisfy my obsession with Carnival. But my eyes were opened through the years that all the focus, by everyone, especially the media, is on the nasty side of this holiday. Folks, it is a Catholic based celebration, and I acknowledge the French were probably a bit risqué in developing the "farewell to the flesh". But Carnival and Mardi Gras(which is a single day and not a season) was always meant to focus on the most important day, Ash Wednesday. Yes there was rich food and consumption of wine, but our Carnival in New Orleans is all flesh, booze and foul-mouthed behavior, it can be a city-wide orgy. Families do try and keep it family friendly, sadly, the prevailing culture says, no, make Carnival and Mardi Gras as wild as ever, and as long as you get your ashes on Ash Wednesday, all is well. Yep, I know, what a Louisiana buzz-kill. But this is my honest and sincere opinion. Enjoy the season and the holiday as traditionally as you care to but ask yourself, if what I am witnessing right now, would I take Jesus to see with me? If not, move on.
As a Permanent Deacon sometimes the most thankfully Catholic people I encounter every month are my inmates at Rayburn. Why, and I'm speaking very generally, why do we Catholics rarely exhibit a spirit of joy and an attitude of gratitude. Yes, I surely know and work with many Catholics who are just like this; but I also encounter many faithful Catholics who seem to drink lemon juice straight, as their beverage of choice. C'mon Catholics, be the light and salt and witness we are called to be. I find it exhilarating to be Catholic, I hope you do too! Yes, reality can be a downer sometimes, especially during crisis and loss, but speaking generally, we should be preaching our faith to others through not only words, but by actions, attitude and demeanor!
And before I move on, please dear Catholics know your faith. Recently we added a holy hour to our Sunday schedule with Benediction just a few moments before Mass. I had to admonish recently the behavior I witnessed during Benediction; you'd never know that Jesus is present in that monstrance based on what I could see from my vantage point. And when Catholics attend baptisms, weddings and funerals, why do we not know when to sit, stand or kneel and why do we have no clue as to the proper responses. We must do better and I am committing here and now that when I see that which I believe to be an abuse, I'm speaking out. Yes, I will do so pastorally and never will I intentional embarrass or belittle, God forbid, but we have to do better as a people of our Catholic faith.
Next, why do we, as social media freaks, truly believe that our constant postings for or against a President, any other politicians or a political issue will make one iota of a difference? I'm perplexed at the garbage I see with increasing frequency and for most of you it is highly predictable. I mean if we were that passionate about our faith beliefs and faith life, we would all be living in a more incredibly awesome, caring world. I get politics, I have my own likes and dislikes. But all we do when we rush to social media is affirm ourselves, affirm those who believe just like us and alienate those who do not believe just like us. It's that simple. And even if you are a political freak, if you are a Christian, much of what I see is not Christian, much of it is calumny; don't know what that means? Look it up, please!
Finally, something I've experienced recently is a pattern of daily prayer really, really helps. Recently, trying my best to do something special in this 100th year anniversary of Fatima, I've paid attention to prayer pattern. Let me suggest some of what I am doing as a way to maybe jump start your prayer life. I am now waking every morning to two prayers, the Morning Offering and the Angelus. I love the Morning Offering and wish I would never have abandoned this prayer; it keeps things in perspective, especially if you know the day may be difficult. I pray the Angelus in the morning, and then again at noon and 6 in the evening. This is pattern of the universal Church. In addition to these, I try and pray an entire Rosary every day, if you can't maybe a decade every day would help. And I also pray either Evening or Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. Of course, I also communicate prayerfully in a conversation/dialogue with God. All of these prayers are available on websites like EWTN and many others. Please consider a prayer pattern or regimen because I can't tell you the blessings and graces I am receiving from this!!
Hope this was not so bad; if nothing else I feel better! Time to pray my final Angelus for the day!!
Holy Spirit; I'm still listening!