Saturday, September 01, 2012

Turn a page, do a good turn.

August is the best month of the year.  That long-held conviction of mine was borne out again this year, as one splendid day followed another.  It was nothing like July, which was unbearable.  Everybody is in a better mood in August, not least because they are either on vacation, or enjoying the reduced traffic and agitation because so many people are away on vacation. 
Even the last week of August, taken over now by the return to school of almost everybody, is still pleasant.  Kids are actually excited to be in school.  Parents are deeply excited that they are there, too.  Little siblings, well, they feel left out – but they are beginning to realize what a good deal they are getting!  And as I sped around the Beltway during rush hour this week – yes, veritably raced, during rush hour! – it became apparent that while many of us local types are back to business, the political, journalistic, and lobbying folks are all elsewhere.   That is a not unpleasant thing for the rest of us. 
But the bell rings, the page turns, a day marked for Labor comes, and it all ends.  Sigh.  It is time to get out those dress shoes and put away those flip-flops.  The latter are some of the least functional and least attractive footwear ever, so it is no great loss in my book.  Maybe there are some upsides to this change of season after all.
It is also time to go to confession, not because Labor Day is a holy day, but because this turn of the seasons and turning of our attentions is a natural time for review, repentance, and renewal. 
Come on, really – are you going to remember the failures, faults, and fumbles of June or July until December, when Advent and the coming of Christmas draw your attention to preparing for Christ?  No.  And you shouldn’t!  The autumn will bring sufficient evidence of our being marked by the Fall.   Cleanse your hearts and your consciences of the times you relaxed into negligence, or rejoiced with recklessness, or sought solitude out of selfishness.  The summer has its characteristic sins that are different, but worth identifying, owning, and unloading.  Jesus looks at us all as we try to pull ourselves together and get serious again, and just says, Bring it.  With His merciful help, both our consciences and our notebooks can be clean, fresh, and ready for the new projects the cooler weather brings.
Our own school opened with a shout this week, as we welcomed back many energetic sons and daughters, along with new teachers, new students, and whole new families from many sources, including a number from our neighbor, Saint Michael, who closed their school this summer.  These folks are dedicated to Catholic education no less then the standard bearers of our own venerable community, and we are pleased to be able to bring them into our strong tradition to help them fulfill theirs.
Meanwhile, many folks from our own parish are hitting major obstacles on the road to fulfilling their hope of a Catholic education for their kids.  After years of faithfully paying tuition, several families have fallen on sudden hard times for reasons that would be familiar to most of you.  They are convinced they will bounce back, but in the meantime they need the strength of our parish community to help carry them across this rough patch.  So, if you did not spend it all on vacation, consider making a contribution to our tuition assistance program.  Your boost can help someone promising reach the heights of achievement.
Because August is over, but when we help one another in Christ, September brings sweet fruit as well.
Monsignor Smith

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