Wednesday, February 25, 2004

C.A.P.E. Catholics

No, this is not another lame comic book-related post. It is just a bitter, low-key, screed. If you are not in the mood for one of my screeds, read it later.

Ever notice how many extra folks there are at Ash Wednesday Masses? It can become a literal throng of humanity. But then the first Sunday of Lent rolls around and -poof- the extra folks are gone. Granted, some of these folks might have gone back to their proper parish, but I doubt that all of them are "visitors."

In the seminary, we devised a name for these Catholics. We called them "C.A.P.E. Catholics." C.A.P.E. stands for "Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, and Easter." But none of us could figure out why people came to these four Masses and none other. And then an astute friend who has gone on to ordination said, "These are all the times you get something." He hit it on the head: Christmas is presents, Ashes the magical forgiveness totem, Palm Sunday a piece of braidable grass and Easter hollow chocolate bunnies.

Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes at this. Some young punk priest isn't satisfied with people coming to Mass. "They're trying the best," you will say. I say, "Nuts!" to that. The minimum is not where we are asked to aim. Be perfect as Your Father in Heaven is perfect is the goal Christ gives us. Furthermore, if they can make time to make Mass on these other days, what is so all-fired important that they can't slip away FOR ONE HOUR?! [I, of course, am not thinking of those who have jobs in the military, police, medicine, etc. where they have to be away.]

The key I suspect lies with conversion. As a convert, I swiftly recognized my attendance at worship was an obligation born out of love and being responsive to love. If He can give all, and I am a member of His Body, then His Grace makes it possible.

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