Saturday, July 4, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

St. Benedict had a little "Independence Day" mass at 9:00AM this morning; I butchered the psalm (and I mean REALLY butchered it), but everything else went pretty well. At least I didn't hear hardcore American Exceptionalism preached from the pulpit. In fact, I was surprised at how tasteful the liturgy was. If only the flags had been taken down for the 5:00PM mass later today...I just don't see the point in shoehorning this stuff into the liturgy. We have our liturgical calendar courtesy of the USCCB; why not, you know, USE IT? I realize why people WANT something like a "patriotic mass," but it's coming at the expense of the usual feast of the day. We don't need yet another reminder of the secular feast of the day during our sacred liturgy, do we? If anything, we need a reminder that there's something more important than what's happening outside amidst the fireworks and parades. Am I the only one who thinks this way?

Anyway, in between the masses today, I went to Gamestop, spent $100 on new games (for which, I will gladly admit, I am somewhat...uncomfortable. Am I so attached to video games that my relationship with Christ and my vocation is suffering? I can't help but think that I had to drag out the debit card rather than choose between two games means that the answer to this question is "yes.") To top it off, I forgot to inquire about the item I actually wanted to get from the store in the first place. It slipped my mind once I saw the games on sale! UGH!

I felt far more at ease, however, on my way back. An elderly woman asked for my help with her groceries. At least I was of some use to someone after that hideously gluttonous spending spree!

As a way of reminding myself of the temporality of this world and the futility of expending all my wants and "needs" in things like video games, I spent some time in prayer and spiritual reading in the afternoon. I found this conversion story, which I promptly forwarded to a friend who, I am sure, will absolutely love it. I also read a bit about St. Benedict and his struggles with "worldly" things; I was particularly struck by his insistence that one be careful that daily sufferings and hardships are not purposely sought out to increase one's pride; oftentimes I feel that I have some "alterior motive" in my daily fasting (as much as one can consider it "fasting," anyway) that fits more into the mold of the vice of pride than the virtue of humility. I still need to learn the difference between the redemptive suffering as described in the essay I linked to above (and as described by St. Benedict, among many other holy men and women) and the ego-driven self-esteem boosters I often find myself engaging in. I ask for as much spiritual assistance as possible in this endeavor! Readers: Please spare me any extra prayers you have! I NEED THEM!

5:00PM mass was interesting; Barb, from St. Bart's, was the cantor, and I had to e the "emergency substitute" Extraordinary Minster of the Eucharist today. I think I successfully dodged any possible sacrilege, so here's hoping God found this unworthy servant to be a suitable vessel for His work today!

After mass, Luciano invited me out to a nursing home for some "charity work." Initially, I didn't want to go (those new video games seemed like a mighty attractive time waster after mass...), but recalling all the praying and reading I had done in the afternoon, I decided that at the very least, the boredom I suffered would be of use to saving some soul in purgatory (even, perhaps, my own). So I went to Vernon Hills with Luciano to sing a few Patriotic songs (again) to some senior citizens.

Little moment of grace: I narrowly dodged a peanut allergy attack on the way to the nursing home. Luciano stopped at a local Jimmy John's for some soda and potato chips. Just as I was about to take one, I noticed an odd smell emanating from the bag. Turns out the chips are cooked in peanut oil! YIKES! Thank You Lord for letting me dodge that bullet!

The nursing home was surprisingly packed. It's quite the affluent neighborhood, and the residents have their own "tropical getaway" within the building itself. In all honesty, the building is more like a hotel than anything else. I'm glad they enjoyed the rather muffled singing amidst Luciano's piano-playing. I was actually complimented by the seniors afterward in what APPEARED to be more than a patronizing manner; still another teared up as we sang the Army Air Corps theme, as she recalled her husband raising the flag at Iwo Jima (!!!!). All good gifts come from heaven above, so I must not let such moments turn into some opportunity for Satan to strike more pride into my heart. God help me!

We concluded the evening with a late dinner at a local Italian place. Luciano was visibly and audibly tired. I hope he "catches some Z's" to get his voice back on track for tomorrow. I doubt we'll get the usual choir members to show up considering the holiday weekend! There's also the possibility of no servers for the 8:00AM mass, meaning I'll have to fill in. God, I trust in Your Son and His saving power! AMEN!

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