There are times when someone will say something in a conversation, not intended to make an impression on you, but it does none the less. That happened while I was talking to a lifelong friend the other day. I have known Shawn since early grade school. Several years ago he told me he started going to daily Mass quite often during the week. In a large part, his attendance at daily Mass spurred me on in my quest to explore my faith in a more meaningful way. Shawn and I had gotten together a couple weeks ago and through the course of the evening our conversation came around to some of the struggles we each face in trying to live life in a spiritually mindful way. At some point in the conversation he mentioned “when I go to daily Mass I’ve been praying now to be able to live the Mass after Mass, to take the Mass outside of church”. It was a factual statement on his part, but it hit me quite profoundly. Many times I have heard something to the effect of living a good spiritual life not just on Sunday during Mass, but at all times. Faith is not intended nor effective if it is compartmentalized and limited to certain times or places. It is a gift to be shared and nurtured among all God’s people in all settings. What Shawn said seemed to me to succinctly take this concept to its core. When we participate fully in Mass we evaluate our recent failings and ask forgiveness, we look for guidance, reconnect with God’s Word, profess our faith, glorify God, seek the Holy Spirit and reach for the source and summit of our faith through the Eucharist. To take that spiritual experience outside of church is to share the living spirit with the world, thereby, giving the “gift of good” to others around us and just as importantly, opening us up to gaining and learning from the spirit of others. Bad is all around us, but good comes from within us. The Mass supports and strengthens us human beings to overcome the bad that tries to derail us.
Shortly after I talked with Shawn something else happened, seemingly disconnected with the conversation above. A classmate of ours from high school passed away unexpectedly. Her maiden name is Joan Ryan. The Ryan family, as you may know, has been a big part of the St. Michael community. I can’t say I was a close friend of hers but rather an acquaintance. We would talk occasionally and as my kids grew I would sometimes see her at basketball games when her brother Jay was coaching. What I can say for sure about Joan is that she always had a way of bringing a smile to a room when she walked in. She seemed to get along with everyone and had a caring, compassionate persona. When she passed it gave me cause to revisit my own mortality. We are given time on this earth, but no amount of time is promised to us. There really is no reason for a promise from our Creator to longevity. I believe the amount of time we have in our earthly bodies is enough time to accomplish whatever mission we are intended for. As I left Joanie’s wake, Shawn’s statement above came back to me. At that point it instantly became evident to me that his statement about living the Mass is a call to action. Instead of saying, “I should do that too”, I should say “now is the time to make a change”.
If I may ask a favor, if you think of it please say a quick prayer for a special intention for Shawn and his family. He is a good man. Please also pray for the repose of the soul of Joan, for peace that in my eyes she deserves.