Anything For God is Worth the Effort.

 

The Greek word leitourgia derives from two root words – ‘laos’, the people, and ‘ergas’, a work. But the popular definition being that “liturgy is “the work of the people,” can be highly misleading. Leitourgia was never actually used to mean “the work of the people”. It was, rather, a word that described acts of public service, usually initiated by a private benefactor. So, by way of example, some wealthy person might build a temple and foot the bill privately, but the work itself was for the community. Likewise, any public work done in service to “the gods”, but that would also benefit an entire community, would qualify as leitourgia. It’s work, yes; but, it’s always about the people. So let us be clear:  it’s not the people’s work, it’s work “for the people”, and transformative of the wider world. It is for me, like the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, the phrase found in the Mishnah, a body of classical rabbinic teachings, a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world. In other words, by our actions we heal a broken world. That is liturgy to me.

So, with that in mind, liturgy at Saint Miriam might legitimately said to be our work for God; a work and act that transforms the world for the better, and benefits people. But liturgy isn’t mine or yours. In short, it’s never just about me, or you, it is about God and the community. Liturgy and attending Mass heals. Sadly, many Catholics don’t see it that way. Rather, it is viewed as a must, or an obligation, and joy is thereby removed from our attendance. You derive much less joy from being forced than from attending something by our own will. That is why I relish celebrating the Mass! It is a beautiful and moving experience where I become closer to God and my week is better off for it. My joys heightened, my sorrows diminished, my strength improved. However, since few agree, we come to another ending…

The 4:00pm Late Mass will be ending this month. June 26th will be its last day. Why? No commitment. No participation from our parishioners, and declining attendance make the Mass a hardship on our clergy, and to be honest, there is nothing more depleting for our priests than to invest all the time, energy, and planning to make our liturgies so beautiful and meaningful and then to have few show up.

Now, let us be clear here: it was not any of us in parish leadership who created the Late Mass out of whole cloth; it was many of our parishioners who asked us for it. “We can’t always come in the morning, so we would be able to still meet our Mass obligation.” And, our last parish wide survey results regarding the Mass times question added a, “later afternoon Mass” as the number one request. So we did what you asked and we were met with resistance when it came to helping us to serve, read, and greet. So it failed. Ministry is not a priest-only sport!

Humans have a terrible time taking information that they haven’t directly experienced and turning it into feelings in our hearts, wisdom in our minds, and action in our hands. There always exists a great divide between what we “know” and what we “feel” remains. We “know” that we can be forgiven our sins and walk with Christ to the promises of Heaven. But do we really understand what that means, what that entails? The Church is good about turning lofty ideals into tangible elements that we can experience. That is why attendance at Mass and fellowship with the community of the faithful is so important.

Let us, then, work in our hearts and minds to ever try to realize – truly realize – what God has done for us, what He wants for us, and how we can do His will on Earth. Let us begin to attend Mass as a joyful act – together as a family – because, regardless of what we think we “know”, it is in that small act of participation that we make the truth real and we truly become closer to God.
 
Anything for God is worth the effort; just ask Noah.