John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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My Catholic Church

Posted on March 3, 2013
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In my Catholic Church, we get donuts after Sunday Mass in the Church basement.

As my son runs around like a maniac, I talk with my friends about the week that was and the week that will be, about sports, about politics, about school, and about the crazy stuff we did the night before (usually falling asleep before Saturday Night Live).

In my Catholic Church, life revolves around the parish school.  My son is a first grader, and we expect him to finish 7 more grades before he gets done there.

Then, we expect him to go to a Catholic high school and maybe, if he decides, a good Catholic university.  Our daughter is not quite ready for school (she is five months old), but we expect her to go there too, if all works out well.

We have met a lot of friends thanks to the parish school and weekly Mass.  Friends that share common values and common frustrations.  My wife and I get drinks with these friends, go to Nationals games, prepare for the school auction, have Super Bowl parties, and live a rich and fun life.

In my Catholic Church, parents sometimes drop off the kids for sleepovers at 5 o’clock mass, and sometimes do pickup from sleepovers at 9 am mass.   To be clear, they sleep over at their friends houses and not at the Church.  Nobody sleeps over at the Church.

The Church binds us together, informally and formally.

In my Catholic Church, there are plenty of opinions.  There are liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, Ron Paul supporters and probably more than a few socialists.

In my Catholic Church, its a pretty diverse crowd.  Catholic means universal, and you get all kinds of people at my Catholic Church, all races, etc.

There is no pre-destination in my Catholic Church.  You always have a chance to redeem yourself.   God has perhaps already written all the history, but you have a chance to live it the way you see fit.  You have free choice of will in my Catholic Church.

There are more sinners than saints in my Catholic Church, but the sinners are much more fun (as Billy Joel once pointed out).  Of course, in my Catholic Church, the sinners have Catholic guilt and that means that at some point, you have to pay for the fun.

In my Catholic Church, there are a lot of rituals, some of which have been around for 2000 years, some were modified last year, and some have stretched beyond the birth of Christ.  In my Catholic Church, it might be a bunch of superstitious mumbo jumbo, but as my Uncle Bob likes to remind me, eternity is a long time.

In my Catholic Church, after Sunday Mass, the Knights of Columbus cook a mean pancake breakfast about once a month in the Church basement.  The sausage is exceptional.  I highly recommend it.

In my Catholic Church, all of the Catholics gather up on Ash Wednesday to hear a reading that basically says that during the fasting period, you shouldn’t draw attention to yourself, and after that reading, they all get marks on their foreheads that draw attention to the fact that they are Catholic.

In my Catholic Church, they have a big St. Patrick’s Day Mass and after the mass, they have a beer bash in the basement (they serve Irish food too, for what it is worth).

In my Catholic Church, the kids get dressed up as shepherds and angels for Christmas Mass.

In my Catholic Church, the 5 o’clock Saturday mass is more casual, the 9 am mass is more formal and the 11 am Mass has a guitar mass that needs a little work, bless their hearts.

In my Catholic Church, there are a few Marquette graduates, a few Notre Dame graduates, a few Georgetown graduates, a few Villanova graduates, a few Boston College graduates and of course some graduates from various state schools.  But the Catholic schools graduates are happy that the Catholic Conference is forming, because Catholic universities do an especially good job of taking care of their scholar-athletes.

In my Catholic Church, the conclave to pick the next Pope is important, but not as important as some might think.  In my Catholic Church, the community is stronger because of the Church’s work with the poor, but the Church and its leaders have a proper appreciation for the marketplace too.  As the Pastor often points out in his sermons, we can’t all take a vow of poverty and put aside all worldly things.  Somebody has to create jobs and make money and keep the economy going.

But my Catholic Church doesn’t preach the prosperity gospel.  You won’t get rich because you give donations to the Church.   You give donations to the Church because they help the poor and because it is the right thing to do.

Capitalism works better when the Capitalists have a moral compass, when they don’t create wealth for only their own enjoyment, but for the betterment of society as whole.  Self-indulgent greed only gets you so far.

The Church is in crisis because of the various scandals in the Roman curia and because some priests did some things that they shouldn’t have, and because some Church leaders covered up those abuses.   All of that is unacceptable and needs to change. But the Church is made up of human beings, and as well all know, human beings are far from perfect.

The Church will be bigger and stronger than the scandals if it can remember that the Church is a place for good people to gather in the real world and live deeper, fuller, more interconnected and more fun lives.  That is my Catholic Church, no matter what the media spin is.