Sunday, January 27, 2008

Unappealing Appealing

In our diocese, the Archdiocese of Washington, the Bishop's Appeal is done after Christmas but before Lent. Since Lent begins early this year, that means that we have gone straight from Christmas into the Bishop's Appeal. I dread this every year and every year I find it more repulsive. At least when telemarketers call me I can simply say no and ask to be removed from their calling list. But the Bishop thinks it necessary to mail us a petition for money, call us for money, and saturate our Masses for four weeks with pleas for money. It is overkill. The Bishop may very well be asking for money for some very worthwhile things, but asking 6 times across a month's span is ridiculous. Unfortunately, that is not where it ends. In addition to this harassment is the sin of placing himself in God's place.

During the Mass, the priest becomes, quite literally, "another Christ," and he does so in such a special way. The most obvious, of course, is as Christ the Priest at the consecration. But he is also Christ the King in presiding over the celebration of the Mass - he is leading and responsible for the Mass. He is also Christ the Prophet when he reads the Gospel and preaches to the people during his homily. You cannot divide Christ and omit any of these roles - each is essential. And yet every year we lose homilies to pleas for money, and money, and more money. Today we had to listen to an audio recording of the Bishop's plea for money. (At my previous church we even had to watch a video plea by the Bishop.) And then afterwards our pastor takes time to tell everyone how to fill out the card - as if people didn't know to write their address on the address line. Instead of being given insight and encouragement from Christ in a homily, I was plagued for more money. I believe it is simply a sin to deny Christ HIS time to speak through his priest to his people (to what extent the priest lets him is his affair, but my point remains). People go to Mass to praise, serve, adore, learn about and love God. To inject 15 minutes of pleas for money and deny Christ HIS time with his people - often people who really need that time - is just shameful.

Now, I will confess an extra irritation of mine. James and I have a 2 year old and a 2 month old and we were attending the 9am mass with the children's liturgy. Do I need to draw a picture of how many little children were at this mass. And yet, we did not finish with the appeal information and form-filling-out until 40 minutes into mass. We left right after Communion (we rarely do it but both Cecilia and Felicity were on the brink of hysterical crying) and still did not get to the car until 1 hour and 5 minutes after Mass began. It was extra difficult for us (and I expect many other parents) to enjoy Mass when it was prolonged so and I admit myself especially ungrateful for the Bishop making Mass so difficult simply to ask for money yet again.

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