Wednesday, May 20, 2009


This week, I have found myself saying over and over again: "If we would just set our priorities straight, and properly distinguish between what we NEED and what we simply WANT, the world would be a better place!!"

Over the last couple of weekends 90 boys and girls received First Holy Communion. Next weekend 5 more boys and girls in our Spanish community will receive for the first time as well.

The pastor requests that the congregation refrain from taking pictures during the mass. We have a photographer who takes a picture of each child as father elevates the host in front of them. Usually, this goes very smoothly and after the pictures are taken, I crop them and bring them to our local wholesale club where I purchase 3 5x7 pictures of each child. These are presented to the families with the certificates and crosses at the parish celebration we hold for the children the weekend after first communions.

Unfortunately, this year, the photographer had equipment problems. Our pastor and the photographer were very accommodating, and new pictures were taken of the children affected by the malfunction, at the parish celebration mass. After mass, when everyone went downstairs for coffee and cake, and to pick up the pictures and certificates, I found out that one child's pictures were missing.

I told the mom, who was very upset, that I had all the pictures on the disk the photographer had given me and, we could look through that during the week to find her child. She wanted to do it then and there Saturday evening. The problem was I don't have the software in my office to work on the pictures. That is something I do in my spare time at home. Hence, the disk was not at church with me.

Mom was not a happy camper, to say the least.

I brought the disk in on Monday, and on Tuesday morning mom came in to the secretary, but, unfortunately, there was no picture of her child on the disk. When I got into the office, there was a voicemail message from a very annoyed mom saying she "NEEDED" the picture of her son!?

I really do understand mom's frustration; however, we NEED God, we NEED sustenance, we NEED relationship, we NEED love, we NEED a roof over our head, we NEED a job to sustain ourselves...we DO NOT NEED PICTURES.

Mom WANTS a picture...I understand the desire; but, NEED is a strong term used indiscriminately in our day to day life.

Today, I did come up with a solution with dad, and with the pastor's help we will recreate the original scene and mom will get a picture. No problem really, and such a small thing to get so worked up over.

Now, last night I held our End of the Year Catechist meeting. Again, I was reminded of how we skew "NEED" and "WANT" in our day to day lives.

I teach the Level 8 Confirmation class. It has been this way for 8 years and, I have no plan of changing it any time soon. I enjoy working with the boys and girls and, more importantly I know that I get through to them.

So, in preparation for last night's meeting, I put together the Level 8 calendar and syllabus. Because, our celebration of Confirmation will be held in March, I arranged with our Music Minister for a music rehearsal at one of our last classes. I also have a CD of the music we use in the celebration that I play each week as the boys and girls gather to help familiarize them with the music.

Mostly, however, I teach the boys and girls about the virtues, the Acts of Mercy, respect life issues, social justice issues, and chastity. Level 8 is a well rounded faith experience for our young people complete with guest speakers, retreat, and my favorite experience: The Hunger Banquet.

After I had distributed the calendar, one of the catechists walked over to another and began a hushed exchange. Soon, she turned to me and said: "We just changed your schedule!"

My reply was, "No, You Did Not!"

The catechist explained that we would be singing with the boys and girls each week so that on the day of Confirmation they would know the songs.

(REALLY, WE WOULD?!? Quite a declaration from a person who will be facilitating Level 8 for the very first time...has no clue as to how the program is organized...and, oh yes...IS NOT THE DRE!!)

I told her and her compatriot that we would NOT. That class is 45 minutes long, and I have much to impart to the boys and girls in that limited amount of time.

Again, what is NEEDED and what is WANTED are two very different things.

Part of the problem, is time; part of the problem is that the boys and girls are not interested in singing...are not members of their school chorus...and, most importantly are at an age where they do not want to appear foolish in front of their peers.

I understand this; apparently, my catechist has forgotten how difficult it is to be in eighth grade.

The other part of the problem is the same as the problem I see with weddings: I am preparing the boys and girls for a life of confirmed faith NOT a one hour celebration where they smile, or in this case sing "purty" and get big bucks at the party afterward!!

While I too, might WANT to hear the boys and girls sing as if they were in High School Musical XXVIII, we do NOT NEED for them to perfectly lift their voices in song.

What we NEED is for them to lift their lives in service as committed, confirmed Catholic young people!

That will not be accomplished by replacing sound faith formation with singing lessons.

The difference between "NEED" and "WANT" is really very simple; and yet, it is an unclear understanding of this difference that colors our vision of our world, each other, and our faith!

So, how are YOU doing today?

Are YOU struggling to attain your NEEDS?

Or, could YOU make your life easier with a reevaluation of your WANTS?

It really is THAT SIMPLE!!

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