A reader recently sent us an email documenting two events which happened in the OLOL/SA cluster, both involving Sr. Joan Sobala being “verbally defeated” in the sacristy. The first occurence happened at St. Anne, when a retired priest was greeted by Sr. Sobala with the phrase, “Hey, _____, how are ya? Ready for my homily today?” The priest, a quiet and meek old soul, responded with alacrity, saying, “Sister, you aren’t giving the homily today – I am. I wrote it, I memorized it, I’m delivering it.”
“But, _____, I’m the administrator. I’m your boss.”
“Not out there you aren’t. The Mass is mine, not yours, and no matter what you want to do, you can’t.”
The second incident happened in the sacristy at Our Lady of Lourdes. Evidently, the children from Seton Catholic School, located about 500 feet from the parish, were going to Mass. The priest, another visiting retired priest, had prepared a homily regarding the Gospel reading, which was about the beheading of St. John the Baptist. Before Mass began, Sr. Sobala entered the sacristy and asked the priest to do different readings. The priest, being charitable, informed Sr. Sobala that she must have the wrong readings for the day, because the ones in the lectionary deal with martydom and John the Baptist. She responed, “I know what I’m doing. Those readings will scare the children, so I want to do this one (something touchy-feely).” The priest was unyielding and said, in essence, the same thing that Fr. _____ said above.
Now, this whole notion of changing the readings because they may scare the little kids . . . that’s just insane. When I was little, I thrived on the stories of martydom, suffering, exile, etc . . . It showed me that the faith is something really important, more so than the feel-good platitudes these liberals have to offer. Tell me, would you be more devoted if the religion to which you belonged said, “Jesus loves you just the way you are” or “this is so special, people have died for it.” While both are true, there is so much more in the second phrase. One might then ask, “Why have people died for it? How’d they die? Who did it? What made them that brave?” The answer always comes back to Our Lord, His Love, and His Sacred Heart.
Religion, not just Catholicism, but all religion, is something that one must work through, thinking critically and analytically. If you are fed mush on a daily basis, your body loses substance and muscle. The same is true for your spiritual body, i.e. “soul.” If you just give the soul the comforting reasurrance that “Jesus loves you,” it won’t strive heavenward – it’s content right where it is. One must always challenge oneself spiritually, thus fasting, holy hours, etc. are great methods of meditating on the faith. To deprive the body of something (whether it is sleep, food, or comfort) is to turn the gaze from the comfort in which we live, both spiritually and physically, so that we may focus on those areas of our life that need improvement.
What better way to do this than to have priests such as these? These men, secure in their masculinity, steadfast in faith, and unswerving in loyalty, bear witness to the priests and martyrs of old, who bore iniquity for the sake of Our Lord, who suffered patiently, correcting with direct charity. To ask a priest to refrain from giving his homily so that one may deliver one’s own, or to ask a priest to switch out the readings of the day, so they will cradle the children’s psyches – this is rude, selfish, short-sighted, and an affrontery to all things sacred.
Let our priests be priests, and may our nuns be nuns.