Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Don't FEEL like it

"If it feels good- do it."  The bed is extra cozy Sunday mornings, so we stay in it.  Like Falstaff, we "never eat fish on Fridays." Everybody's doing it, so I'll surf on over to those sites that would make my mother blush. Sure, I'll have one more drink- Didn't Chesterton advocate drinking and smoking (albeit only culturally-superior cigars)?

So it follows; if it doesn't feel good, don't do it. Don't call your mother-in-law. Don't scrub that pot. Don't get up to make him breakfast. Don't bother with night prayers with the kids all squirmy and yawning. Anyways, we are in good company. Peter, James, and John didn't feel like praying with Jesus in Gethsemani, and the Church made them saints.

In an Eastern Catholic community close by, they are mourning the loss of a beautiful family with 10+ children who have stopped participating in their church for a Western-rite church closer to their house. Nothing negative had happened to them at the Eastern church. In fact, all of the boys were faithful altar servers, and the father was a cantor. Mom and the girls also participated as choir and altar society members. The 20 minute drive was just too much; they didn't feel like struggling with their children to get them ready for a 9:30 Mass. While every person has the right to decide where they will go to Sunday Mass, the reason why they stopped going to their Eastern church will have serious consequences for the children. Getting up for school is a struggle, but they haven't stopped going to school. It seems that keeping the family tradition and participating in a church where "everybody knows your name" was of a lower priority.

If we don't do good things because we don't feel like it, we are like animals who use instinct and not rationale to govern themselves. A feeling- either positive or negative- might be the beginning of a decision, but it can never be the reason for the decision. All moms remember the feeling of embracing their babies for the first time; what an intense feeling! Do we still feel that intensity when we are getting up to feed our six-month old for the third time in the night? No, but it is faith and rationale that helps us do our duty with love.

Luke 6: 31-36, the Gospel for Byzantine Catholics last Sunday, is a clear mandate from Christ that we are to go the extra mile for our fellow man. And we are expected as Christ's followers to love our enemies and do good. Again and again, our faith is a faith of action; faith without works is dead. Feelings without faith and rationale are doomed to failure. Combining feelings, faith and rationale, we are higher than the angels! Amazing and wonderful- let's all try to be worthy of the gifts God has given us.


  1. Hmmm. That seems a little harsh. If they haven't left the Catholic faith, I don't see why people are 'mourning'! Smacks of my parents 'mourning' because my kids don't go to 'real school.' So misguided and selfish. Maybe it's because they won't see them as much anymore. I see your underlying point, which is poignant, but I'd like to offer a rebuttal, if I may.

    First, a family with 10+ children?? Sounds like they're wonderful, faithful people, especially by how you describe their activities at church, but you can't always do it all. Life's seasons and struggles are constantly changing. I have 6, and we choose which parish we go to based on the time. I like to go to our home parish (2 hours earlier), but sometimes, sanity comes first. Sometimes, the fact that your husband, who is so dear and patient, could snap at any moment if put ANY MORE pressure upon has to be considered. Sometimes, the fact that YOU may snap if any more pressure is put upon you has to be considered. And I'm sure you're familiar with what happens in a stressful environment, especially considering parents' demeanors towards their children. What kind of a memory is that for your children? Mom and dad freaking out, yelling at everyone, all stressed and crazy- so that they can learn the importance of rising in the dark for early mass just because it's at a certain church, and the people there might be disappointed if we went somewhere else? I'd much rather have them see that the focus of the day is God, rest, and family. We can calmly and prayerfully prepare for Mass; we can be at peace with each other; and our experience during Mass is one of perhaps even hearing what's going on since the kids aren't exhausted and crabby! If the morning is a disaster for some odd reason, we drive even farther to go to the Sunday evening Mass in our local diocese's Cathedral.

    I knew two very Catholic families growing up. One was rule followers. They did things to teach their kids that the tenants of the faith are hard but, dammit, you're gonna do it! You're tired? Too bad! Get over here and say your prayers! You get my point.

    The second one was very full of love. Prayers were said, masses were attended, not because they were 'musts' but because, with such beautiful sacraments, why wouldn't you? They went to the 10:30 Mass, btw, and the kids weren't forced into daily mass, but somehow they always wanted to go 'cause mom was. The driving force behind God's law was love, not the law itself, and so the 'rule following' went virutally unnoticed by the kids.

    The first family had 6 kids. NONE are Catholic today. The second family had 7. They are all Catholic, including one nun, and 5 grandsons who are priests, and 2 more granddaughters who are consecrated virgins.

    And I get it, the personalities of the parents made a huge difference. And here's where I come in. I'm not a gooey lets-make-fudge kind of mom, and my husband is certainly not a mr. mom. Neither of us is morning people. So, whatever we can do to keep ourselves positive, good role models, and provide them with a true spirit of love of God is what we're going to do. And at this particular moment in time, I'm quite sure that getting the crew to the earlier morning mass may not be the best idea for us, for providing that faith-filled atmosphere we're struggling for.

    I just feel bad for the family- sounds like their life is probably stressful enough, especially if they're getting that crew to school early in the morning every other day of the week. Sounds like that day of rest is just what God had in mind.

    Feel free to rebut! ;)

    Not trying to be harsh, just hit close to home for me.

  2. Martha- Thanks for your comment! I hear you!

    I guess this is reason #321 why it can be difficult to be in a super small parish (this example is not from ours)- on good days, you really do feel like a family, so it is really hard when people leave- even for good reasons!

  3. Yes, it must feel really crummy when a good family leaves your parish. I am sure it hits close to home when your husband is the pastor! It seems like a personal insult even when it is not.

  4. Hi Louise- this didn't happen at our mission- but we were at their feast day this Sunday and noticed the family gone....

  5. But beyond my concrete example that seems to be controversial- do you get where I am going with the 'feeling' theme?

  6. Absolutely get where you are going with the "feeling" theme about doing what we ought, when we don't "feel like it" vs doing what we ought not when we do "feel like it".
    I'm appreciating what Martha posted, and glad you have room for opposing or additional views! So here's my Mary comment to add to hers!
    This choice was theirs to make: they were not of your mission; do you know all that might have led to their decision? Or if their rational was merely "we felt like it"? How do you know they were wrong in what they chose?
    Once, over time, I and others moved from a smaller local chuch (Non-denominational protestant) to a larger half-an hour-away one for various rational reasons; but the principle reason was prayer and sensing where the Lord wanted me (and they, as it turned out, did the same: prayer and obedience). This move was later confirmed to be the correct thing to do. And yes, I missed the folks of the prior church, and was sorry to those who were unhappy at my "dis-loyalty" to their "body": but is not our loyalty to Jesus? (And I am very imperfect in my loyalty and obedience and listening, etc...to HIm!)
    So I think it is quite understandable to miss this family, but to judge their leaving?
    I've just found your blogspot and have enjoyed reading your postings and the comments (all postings, only some comments). I have Ukranian Catholic relatives by marriage of my brother; does this fall under your Byzantine Rite? (I'm outed as protestant, but I am not protesting anyone else's true-hearted expression of faith in Christ Jesus. I will like to learn more!)
    Regarding this post, I too do not want to be harsh, but questioning; if anything I wrote is too strong, or off base, forgive me!

  7. Hi Mary- Thanks for your comments- As long as 'opposing views' are as civil and peaceful as yours and Martha's, I am fine with them :)

    yes- Ukraine Catholic falls under the category of Byzantine. The Liturgy (Mass) is about the same with all Byzantines- Ukrainian, Romanian, Ruthenian, Russian and a few others are Byzantine; they just have a different ethnic origin and jurisdiction going to Rome. I'm sure the links on the upper right would explain it far better than I have.

  8. OK i'm new here. I've not read every post, but close. If I could find a Catholic church closer to my house? I'd be there. I'd walk there, but right now? Our parish is large in geographical area. Chances are that with 10 children? They have friends that are going to the Catholic Church closer to home, it's easier to belong with friends. It's easier to belong when you aren't being judged inside the church you are going to each and every Sunday.
    The Church is a building, the life we follow is our Faith. Faith is bigger then which building you go to.

  9. Just wanted to let you know, in case all of the 'opposition' was frustrating you; that, speaking for all of us, if I may, we do get your post's main theme. Of course, that's the main problem with society today! It's all about me. What do I WANT, what do I FEEL like? Really? How about what does GOD WILL for you? Take your cross up and follow Him!

    Yes, I think there's no denying your point. It's a disease in our society, and learning to empty yourself in order to fill yourself up with Him is a lost virtue; being selfless and not thinking of yourself first does not jive with the American Way of Life anymore. I feel your frustration.


  10. I haven't slept because of the few comments on this post- I was writing about a concept of feelings over faith and rationale. First of all- I know the details over this family's decision to leave this specific church (not just a building- they have also said goodbye to a rite and their church family), but I just wanted an example of feelings over rationale.
    I wrote that they and anyone else for that matter has the right to go or not go to services wherever they want. But my priest friend (older, celibate) also has the right to be bewildered and sad that TEN PERCENT of his community is gone. I see that this concept is upsetting to some.
    KYOOTY yes- the church is much more than a building, it is a family. What would you think if a close family member just one day called you and said "I just don't have time for you; you did nothing wrong, but I won't be communicating with you." ? She has the right to break off contact, but wouldn't you be upset? Let's say that in a church with 1,000 families, 100 families of the most involved just disappear for another church down the street- wouldn't you be perplexed? They went to your son's funeral. They just sat with the priest at coffee and donuts. The girls would arrange the flowers for the icon screen. All of the children have received baptism, confirmation and first communion when they were infants (yes- another BIG change). It is Byzantine tradition that infants receive these sacraments; I don't know a Roman-rite priest that would allow a small child to receive the Holy Eucharist on a consistent basis- it would be too confusing because it is not Western tradition. So lot's of things to think about...but I have been reading my first post over and over and I still agree with my words. But even if I agree with my words, it is not my desire to offend and I do thank everyone for their comments.

  11. I really like what you wrote about "If it feels good, do it, and if it doesn't feel good, don't do it," which seems to be the general philosophy of our society today, unfortunately. I do understand your point about the family changing from a Byzantine tradition to a Roman-rite tradition being problematic. I also understand the difficulty in getting 10+ kids ready for a church 20 minutes away, even though they get them all to school regularly.

    Our family is protestant and we changed from a church 5 minutes away to one 12 minutes away, even though we really liked many of the folks in the first church. We found the teaching and overall atmosphere to be too fortress-like (It's us against the world; if you send your kids to public school, you are indoctrinating them in secular humanism...and we were both public school teachers at the time). Our new church reaches out to the surrounding community in meeting needs, both spiritual and physical. The love of Jesus Christ shines brightly in our local body of believers. I would say that about 80% of our members are involved in some kind of ministry, rather than just being "pew-sitters."

    Here are a couple of scriptures supporting the doing of good works even when we don't feel like it:

    James 4:17 "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

    Proverbs 3:27 "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act."

  12. Pat- Thanks for the Scriptures! I especially love the one from James- I should copy and stick it around the house to motivate me

  13. Preoteasa,

    First of all I might mentioned that you know us, in fact we talked at the parish festival just last Sunday. I don't recall exactly how I came upon your blog, but it wasn't difficult to figure out who you are, especially given the pictures.

    We also know the family in question, and were asking around about them, "Where is the 'G' family, we haven't seen them in a while." I heard an explanation similar to what you wrote, and was equally perplexed. All I can say is that it doesn't make complete sense, and there must be more to the story. They were fixtures of the parish. I was sure at least one of their many boys serving at the Altar woould find a vocation in that particualr Byzantine Church (and kind of suspect Fr. M thought the same way. Family 'G' seemed to be especially close to the pastor.)

    And yes, when P.H. died, this was a tragedy for the whole parish, and the parish mourned him like one big family, and members of family G. where there at the funeral.

    Without knowing the full story, which isn't my business, I wouldn't be so quick to conclude they are just "doing what feels good." From what I know of them, that would be out of character. Perhaps there is more behind this they don't feel obligated to divulge.

  14. Baron- thanks for commenting- I also know the situation a bit more than I posted- as I stated before, they have every right to do what is best for them- but your parish has the right to have their feelings (there's that word again!)hurt. Again- your parish and our mission are not 1,000 family churches- we know each other and feel perplexed (I have to find the verse from St Paul that uses this word- it was in an epistle a few weeks ago) when families leave for more glorious pastures. But I know that Fr. will keep them in his prayers- they are a beautiful family.

  15. KYOOTY yes- the church is much more than a building, it is a family. What would you think if a close family member just one day called you and said "I just don't have time for you; you did nothing wrong, but I won't be communicating with you." ? She has the right to break off contact, but wouldn't you be upset? Let's say that in a church with 1,000 families, 100 families of the most involved just disappear for another church down the street- wouldn't you be perplexed?

    I'm not veyr "present" at my own building but part of that is a compromise for my own immediate family. My larger family doesn't understand it but they don't have to, they just have to support me. That's what family does. I remember I think I was 19-20? And my Roman Catholic Priest of the time said in the Homily one time, "your children will come back to the church" so I wait, as I'm sure my family waits for my family to come back for more then just the school year masses. Some things are bigger then we know ourselves. Some things are beyond what we hear, not everyone is telling you everything because it's personal to their own health and family.

    I do understand the point of your post though, we are an immediate gratification generation. Look at all the other Christian denominations adding Cellphone applications as a way to keep current. also I don't usually come back to see replies. If you want to reply, my emails work :)

  16. Darn, I should have spell checked that one "very"


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