Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Because Being a Catholic is Full-Time Work

Posted by Webster
The Octave of Christmas, celebrating the birth of Our Lord over eight days, not just one, reminds me of another reason why I am Catholic: It’s not a part-time job. I thought of this coming into Mass this morning and seeing altar decorations still honoring the birth of the Baby Jesus.

As a teenager, I left my Episcopal church on Sundays thinking I was all set for the week. Most days now, it’s a different story. Every hour of the day—from the Liturgy of the Hours to daily Mass to Eucharistic Adoration to various forms of service—Catholics are invited to worship and work in the service of God and man.

Take one crazy example. There I was at 4:30 this morning, singing “What Child Is This?” in full voice to kick off the Office of Readings for the fifth day in the Octave. It wasn’t quite William Carlos Williams’s “Danse Russe” (I was fully clothed), but fortunately my home office is in the basement and my Kathleen (Katie) was asleep on the second floor, so my singing didn’t wake her.

Now it’s 7:50 and I am just back from Mass. I arrived at Mass early and said the Rosary before the beautiful Nativity set up in the right transept (photo below). Then I had the honor of serving at the altar. (If it’s Tuesday, it must be Webster.)

I will interrupt my work this office morning with more psalms and prayers from the Breviary. Midafternoon will find me in the Adoration chapel, and then I’ll stop in to see my dear friend and one-time RCIA sponsor Joan of Beverly for an hour of Catholic talk—as per usual late Tuesday afternoons.

If I don’t get lazy (as I do more often than not), I’ll say Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours when I get home about 5:30. A quiet dinner with Katie and Marian (home on Christmas break), and then I’ll spend a couple of hours reading Catholic stuff like Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah and probably blogging too (my one really bad habit). Then, like Simeon in today’s Gospel, I will end the day with the words:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people—a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.

In his memoir, my devout Protestant father wrote, “I’ve always had the impression that Catholics are in general more serious about their religion than Protestants.” That may not be true of all Catholics, but the Catholic Church does offer us the opportunity, every day, to make it true.

Another “father” of my acquaintance once wrote, “If you’re going to go on a spree, go the whole hog, including the postage.” Which inspires me to say, “Oink, oink.”