Monday, August 27, 2012

Okay, So You Are a Big Dope. Welcome Back.

There have been times when I've been remiss in sending somebody a "Thank You" note.  It is not because I wasn't grateful for the particular act of kindness.  It may be because of disorganization, procrastination, (often) forgetfulness, or some other reason.  But, it was not ingratitude.  But then, time elapses.  I start to feel like sending a "thank you" now would seem even more pathetic.  So, when I see the person, I feel awkward and I may even come up with some excuses (in my head) as to why sending a "thank you" now after so much time has elapsed will be just too strange. 

Now, I hope that if anybody reading this is one of  those people, you let me off the hook and let this be the "thank you" I never sent.  But, "a get out of jail free" card is not why I'm writing this.  I am writing this because I was thinking how there might be a lot of people in life who stopped going to Church at one time or another not because they were rebelling against God or the Church or because they made some formal decision to abandon their Faith.  Maybe there are a lot of people who because of disorganization, procrastination, or forgetfulness (of God) just stopped coming to Mass.

In the initial days after some act of kindness has been done towards me, I often think, "I need to send that Thank You."  But, as time goes on, the daily reminders are not there quite so much.  The occasional pit in my stomach returns when somebody mentions the person's name or some event reminds me that I never sent that "Thank You," but it is with less and less frequency.

Perhaps, many persons who stopped coming to Mass felt great anxiety about it when those first Sundays rolled around.  But, as time passes, they feel like it is too late to just show up now.  It's not that they are bad people who are choosing to rebel against God.  They're just people (in many instances) who forgot to send the "thank you" and think it is too late to do so.  They just feel like it is too late for them to start going to Mass again.  They've grown accustomed to not going to Mass.  Sure, there are those occasional "pit in the stomach" moments when they wish that they hadn't stopped practicing their Catholic Faith, but they feel too awkward about doing anything to change that. 

In any event, if you are one of those persons who hasn't been to Mass in a long time because you happen to be a total dope (like those of us who sometimes forget to write a "Thank You" note), no worries.  Come on back.  God knew you were a dope all along and still loves you.  We all have done dopey things.  It might be a little awkward at first, but living through awkwardness often yields something wonderful.  So, live through the awkwardness and come back.

I think of the parable of the Prodigal Son.  I always imagining him practicing his big speech along the way back to the father's house.  I bet he went over it a hundred times and practiced it aloud as he walked along.  "Father, I have sinned against you and I have no right to be called your son."  He probably envisioned himself saying the whole thing at the doorstep of the father's house.  But, none of it came to pass.  While he was still a long way off, his father ran out to meet him, embraced him, and started barking orders at his servants to give his son a king's welcome.  The son was willing to risk that moment of awkardness and was rewarded with an avalanche of love. 

There are, I know, all sorts of reasons why people might not come to Mass.  I might well be one of the reasons!  But, I bet a lot of people just kind of got forgetful and didn't know how to deal with the awkwardness of showing back up.  "How am I going to get my kids to start going to Mass now that we haven't been in three years?"  Yeah, that's awkward.  The awkwardness is worth it. 

I'd be really happy to see you at Mass--especially if you haven't been in a long time. 

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