Saturday, April 26, 2014

Reality Check

Virtual reality has become the norm.  We expect a mechanical voice to answer the phone when we make many phone calls.  Much of what we see happening in the world we see on a screen.  Technology has either made far much more somehow available to us, or has come between us and almost everything; it is hard to tell which.
But our celebration of the Resurrection was not virtual.  The plants and flowers were real, organic, and fragrant.  The candles had real beeswax and authentic flames, not LEDs.  Real wood, silk, and precious metal, crafted specifically for the purpose, were present for us.  Actual voices belonging to real people whom we know made live the Word of God in the passages of Sacred Scripture and in the prayers of the Church spoken and sung for us.  Real sacristans and real servers studied and rehearsed and worked to present for us all of these objects and actions at the right time and in the right places, without drawing any attention to themselves or their labors.
What a gift!  The authentic worship of the living God is the real work of real people, who are our intimates here in our parish.  The level of seriousness and effort brought over the past few weeks left me breathless with gratitude and admiration.  Nowhere else in our modern life can we count on such human skill and effort being poured out for us.  Music from people and instruments, not machines, created in our presence, is only one example; where else do you get that?   
Please take a few moments to focus on the elements that you enjoyed of Easter and the Holy Days leading up to it.  Then think of the hands, voices, love, and effort that shaped and provided them.  None of it was manufactured or synthetic; all of it was the fruit of human labor and love.  Many of those who did the labor and shared the love are worthy of thanks and prayers.
So offer thanks to and for our choirs and musicians, servers and lectors, ushers and sacristans, and hyper dedicated staff.  Offer thanks to and for the folks who set up the reception on the lawn, especially who made homemade goodies.  Offer thanks for all who prepared the grounds and buildings; stripped, veiled, decorated and arranged the sanctuary, worked through lists or rehearsals, and spent hours of their Holy Days making them holy and beautiful for all of us.  As your Pastor, I thank them with you and for you. 
I am grateful to my brother priests for their help and their homilies, and their hours in the confessional.  And to all of you for your faith lived and demonstrated, an inspiration to us all.
I also want to congratulate, welcome, and generally cheer for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who joined us in the life of the Risen One through the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil:
Federico Rosales, Otto Rosales, Mounia Valois, and Amayia Lawrence (Baptized and Confirmed); Sophia Valois (Baptized); Rebecca Fitzgerald and Jennifer Reilly (Received into the Church and Confirmed); and Eric McDonald, Bridey Owens, Karla Oakley, William Valois, Alexandra Lawrence, and Andre Lawrence (Confirmed).
Their hearts, hands and voices are now joined with ours in the very physical labor of giving not only worship but also flesh itself to the Risen Christ.  This is the new reality that defines their lives as it has shaped our own.  This reality is never virtual, but rather sacramental, and therefore by the design and guarantee of our Lord and God, true and real.
Monsignor Smith