Monday 18th January 2021

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One In Seven

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John was spending the summer on his uncle’s farm. As is the case with young boys, John found a lot of things he liked to do on the farm. On Sunday, though, he grumbled that he had to go so far with his uncle to Holy Mass.
His uncle said nothing of John’s grumbling, but on market day he brought home seven large, juicy peaches from his own orchard and gave them to his nephew. John thanked him warmly, because he loved those juicy peaches.
Later, when the uncle asked John if he could spare one of the seven peaches, the boy replied, “Sure, Uncle. Take as many as you want. After all, they came from your own orchard.” He handed the bag to his uncle so he could help himself.
“I see you’re more generous to me that you are to the good God who gave us these peaches,” said the uncle.
“What do you mean?” John asked.
“You don’t begrudge me a share of the fruit I’ve given you, yet when God has given you seven days in the week, you grumble at sparing a part of one day in seven which God gave you to worship and thank Him.”
John never complained again.
Time is one of the many things God gives most of us in abundance. There are one hundred twenty-eight hours in a week that He gives us, and that is time most of us enjoy and prosper in. I wonder, though, just how much we appreciate all those hours each week. If you are forty years old, God has given you over 266,000 hours to live, love, and enjoy life. How many of those hours have been given back to Him?
Assuming you have attended Mass every Sunday of your life, you have only given back to Him 2,000 hours. Seems a bit disproportionate, doesn’t it? Despite the seeming disproportion, God still only asks for one of those hours each week for Holy Mass . . . and the several extra hours throughout the year for Holy Days of Obligation.
How is that hour each week spent? Are we like John and grumble at the obligation of giving God that hour for Mass, or do we offer it to Him freely and joyfully?
When at church for Mass, do we spend the time before Mass preparing for the Holy Sacrifice by being silent before the Tabernacle, contrite for our sins and thanking Him for His sacrifice and all the good He has given us, or do we allow ourselves to be distracted and think about just about everything except Him and His sacrifice?
We Catholics have all the motions down pat, but I wonder whether we even know what the motions are all about. I see the people coming into church and at least make an attempt to genuflect before going into a pew, but I think most don’t even know why they genuflect.
I’ve been to many a parish church where the Tabernacle has been moved off to the side, yet when people enter the church they genuflect toward the altar. That tells me they don’t know why they’re genuflecting, because we are supposed to be genuflecting to His Majesty the King of Creation in the Tabernacle as a sign of homage, love, and respect.
Then I observe most Catholics kneeling before sitting in the pew. Why are they doing that? Well, they’re supposed to be praying in preparation for Holy Mass, as they are about to witness a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. But what they’re supposed to be doing and what many of them actually doing appear to be two different things. I see them looking around, or giving a short wave and smile to someone else, or fidgeting with their hair. . . .
And when I see these things I realize I, too, am being guilty of not giving myself entirely to God as I should be or I wouldn’t be noticing these things.
I’m afraid most of us have come to see going to Mass as one of our social events of the week instead of what it is — the worship of our Creator in the way He demands to be worshipped.
I don’t go to the vigil Mass on Saturday evening, as I don’t need to use that privilege because I’m able to attend Sunday Mass, but I do go before Mass to Confession.
As I sit there in the pew making my final preparation for a good Confession, I’m usually distracted by all the talking on the part of others who are there for the vigil Mass. Folks, we don’t go to Mass to socialize; we go to Mass to worship God….and no other reason. There’s nothing wrong with socializing, but if you want to socialize, do so outside before or after Mass — not when you’re supposed to be preparing for Mass and Communion.
If you won’t maintain silence for the sake of your own soul, at least be courteous enough to do so for those others who do want to make a good preparation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
During the Sign of Peace, everyone seems to want to take even that brief few seconds to socialize. Why? Are we that starved for the attention of others? Have we so forgotten or perverted our notion of what the Mass is all about that we treat it like it’s just another social event? During the Sign of Peace, Jesus is already on the altar! Our focus is supposed to be on Him!
That’s why we are supposed to only greet the person on each side of us with a blessing of peace. It’s an abuse of our participation in the Mass and a terribly disrespectful act toward Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist on the altar to hug, kiss, wave, and otherwise take our attention away from Jesus who is present on the altar in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Sacred Species. These abuses are precisely why many priests use their legitimate option to not allow the Sign of Peace at all.
The worst abuse, though, is people leaving immediately after Communion. If you’re attending a weekday Mass, it only takes another five minutes before Mass is over. For Sundays and holy days of obligation, there are only another ten minutes required of us before the Mass ends. Are we so selfish, thoughtless, and disrespectful that we can’t afford to give God another ten minutes? This is what He demands, but we still choose to offend Him by leaving early.
Did you know that it is a mortal sin to not attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation without a sufficient reason? (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2181). And going on a weekend trip to visit relatives or vacation or picnic or go fishing are not sufficient reasons. And leaving before the final blessing is gravely disrespectful to our Eucharistic Lord.
Friends, it’s time to get serious about our faith…especially when it comes to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Holy Communion. We’ve had it too good for too long in America, and it’s caused us to become lax in the practice of our holy and ancient faith.
Attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass isn’t a social event. Assisting at Mass is a moral obligation that means the difference between eternity in Heaven and eternity in Hell. Jesus is Mercy, but He is also Justice and Truth, so don’t make the mistake of making Him the Warm Fuzzy who will overlook the laxity we commonly practice.
Let’s remember that our laxity — our lukewarmness — was condemned by Jesus: “So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16).
If you have a question or comment you can reach out to me through the “Ask Joe” page of, or you can email me at
Hey, how would you like to see things like this article every week in your parish bulletin as an insert? You or your pastor can learn more about how to do that by emailing me at

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