by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, May 1981
I would like to share with you some reminiscences of the past. When I was a child, my parents would always admonish me when I would leave home for some social occasion, “Remember who you are and always make us proud of you.” Whenever I would forget that admonition one or the other of them would say to me, usually in anger, “We are not raising bums in this family. We are raising decent people.” I remember some of the movies and radio stories of those days where parents who were raising children who were lazy and did not want to go out and get a job or who felt that the world owed them a living saying to them, “I didn’t raise you to be a bum, I raised you to be a good person, get out and get a job, take care of yourself.”
For some reason or the other during the course of this past month, that word “bum” kept going through my mind in recollection. Maybe God was trying to inspire me to say something about it in relationship to the sad reality that on the Sunday after a major Feast, whether it’s one day or three or four days following, the Church is almost always half empty. Yet after the climax of the Holy season, when the Church was filled with people and the communion lines extended to the doors of the Church and beyond and when the liturgy was extended in time because there were so many people coming to the chalice and when we were concerned about hearing all the confessions before Liturgy and having enough time to do this and then to come to Church the following Sunday and witness all of those good people who came to the chalice absenting themselves from the same Eucharist and the same celebration, I wonder if God does not want me to say; “We are not raising spiritual bums in this Godly household.” God does not punish us immediately for our indolence but I think somehow he keeps a record of those items when we put “me” first and Him second.
It is coming to Church and carrying with us into our daily lives that which we learn here, expressing it in our relationship to other people, expressing the gospel of love and hope and fulfillment, the gospel of faith, the gospel of joy to a joyless world, a world that has reached such a degree of faithlessness that it is a matter of great concern. It is for this that we come to Church, it is for this that we take the Sacraments and it is for this that we hear the Word of God.
Unlike generations past, we have the gift and the ability to read the gospels; we don’t have to come to Church to hear them read. Most of us have the ability to read intelligent sermons and expositions on theology and doctrine, so we really don’t have to come to Church to get these things if we don’t want to. We come to Church because this is home base for us, our spiritual household. It is here that we become aware of the fullness of Christ’s unity, the reality of His Family. No where else can we feel the concept of “Family of God” except when we come together in worship as His community and when we make manifest in works the things that we learn and are inspired to do in times of worship. I think this is what makes the difference between spiritual bums and Saints. I can hear my parents saying to me as a boy; “We don’t want you to be a bum,” and I can hear our Lord saying the same thing. I can hear our blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and the Church, saying to us, “Children I don’t want you to be bums, I want you to be Saints.”
And that is not a great deal to ask because, you see, the Church is the communion of Saints, of holy people living on the face of this earth and holy people who have now migrated beyond the limitations of this life. It is a communion of Saints in the Church Militant with the communion of Saints in the Church Triumphant. It is a Church of holy people.
Anytime we say, “me first Lord and you second,” that is risky. Only when we put Him first do we attain to that Saintliness that is acceptable to Him. Think about it the next time you are tempted to be a spiritual bum.
St. Isidore of Rostov, Fool for Christ - May 14
Illumined by grace, O divinely-wise Isidore, thou didst chastely and patiently run the course of thy life. And after death thy splendid life has made thee famous: for thou didst shower grace of healing on all who faithfully venerate thy tomb. O blessed Isidore, pray to Christ our God to save our souls.
Kontakion of St. Isidore of Rostov, Tone 8
Let us praise him who is a champion and wonder among the righteous, and who has received the gift of wonderworking from Christ. We see that thou hast boldness before the Holy Trinity. Pray that we thy servants may be delivered from misfortunes that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O divinely wise Isidore.