August 12, 2018
Someone reminded me of the rest of that quote with which I started: Success means showing up and doing the work … participation.
In Liturgy, doing the work means all that ‘cathlick’ sitting, standing, kneeling, singing, praying and shaking hands that so dismay our visitors form other denominations. This we do because this is what we do, when we come together.
Oddly, it does not mean receiving Holy Communion. Participation in that rite depends on one’s preparedness and suitability – being in the state of grace – and that depends largely on the measure in which one participates in a truly Christian way in the rest of life.
What does ‘catholic participation look like outside of a liturgical setting?
Take one’s friendship circle. If all my friends are non-Catholics or un-believers, this means that that I am choosing my friends on some other basis than a shared faith, shared morals or shared concerns. I might like them because they belong to the same club, come from the same place, live in the same town, vote for the same people as I. But that is not a Christian friendship.
Let us think of our political participation. Voting is a civic duty. But that is not participation in the real political process. A catholic Democrat would be working in the party machine to bring the party to a more pro-life position. A catholic Republican would be working in the party machine to bring the party to a broader pro-life position.
Political movers and shakers know that they can get lots of votes if they pander to the basest instincts of their ‘religious’ constituents. But they do not participate in that religion! On the contrary, they have convinced everyone that religious people do not take part in politics! And we have acquiesced!
Non-participation in family life means that parents do not take leadership roles when kids want pleasure instead of work. It means having tantrums and banging doors when work comes along at a time when a kid wants pleasure. It means fault-finding between spouses and failure to forgive all ‘round.
The enemies of participation in Liturgy and in life as well are the same: A lazy acceptance of the status quo; A bland assumption that ‘someone else will do it’; A very ‘american’ attitude of entitlement that tells me that my right is right no matter when or where or how or with whom I exercise it; a commitment that nothing will happen in my backyard (nimby) – indeed nothing should happen in my back yard, because I bought and paid for that yard.
There is a huge difference between participation – doing the work – and just showing up. Working is tiring. Working is often unrewarding. Working is something the slugs of the world deride.
Working is not what we retired for. Working is seldom noticed. Working does not feed my ego. Participation is all those things and more! Just showing up is floating – without making waves in a warm bath (98.6 degrees).
The one part of the world where people show up and do not work, do not participate (besides the US Congress) is a cemetery!
Jesus said: Work while the day lasts, for the night is coming when no one can work.
Really and truly and brightly yours,