11 Tips For People Who Don’t Attend Church Too Often

As I write this entry I recognize that both the Christmas and Easter mass services have come and gone. However, during these two holidays I observed a whole bunch of odd behavior at my local church from those folks who just don’t get to church too often. Sometimes we call these people the “annuals” (i.e. those who go to church annually on Christmas or Easter) and sometimes we call them CEOs (which stands for churchgoers on Christmas and Easter Only). Whatever name this group has ascribed to them the truth is that they’re a little clueless on church etiquette (and basic manners in general, which I’ll write about another time).

Millions attend mass on the beach at World Youth Day 2013

Millions attend mass on the beach at World Youth Day 2013

To help remedy the reality of rudeness, here are 11 tips to assist those who don’t get to church too often.

  1. Welcome! There is nothing that regular churchgoers love better than seeing more people in the church, so WELCOME! Seriously, even though my own parish gets a pretty good turnout during the four weekend masses, it’s great to see an overflow crowd praying and worshiping together. In fact, there are even places in America that are engaging in “mass mobs” which is the same concept as a flash mob, except they focus on bringing dozens if not hundreds of people into a Sunday service. It’s a pretty cool concept.

    Anyway, welcome back to church! You should know that the Church welcomes you back, the parish welcomes you back, and the parishioners welcome you back. And hey, after Christmas and/or Easter are over – why not consider coming back once in a while for a traditional Sunday mass? Not only are those masses shorter, but they cover different topics that you might find interesting.

  2. Get to church on time. Okay. I know. Sometimes something pops up and you make it to church late. Hey, I walked into mass a few Sundays ago 10 minutes after the service started and I felt bad about it. Yet, there’s a difference between someone who goes to church every week arriving late to a non-holiday mass and an annual/CEO showing up 15 minutes late to a holiday mass. The difference is that the excuse of something “popping up” actually applies to someone who attends mass every week. For an annual/CEO the excuse that something popped up to prohibit you and/or your family from getting to mass on time on the one day of the year that you actually attend is malarkey. You had an entire year to prepare yourself for your annual pilgrimage to church – don’t believe your own lies and think that it’s okay for you to walk into church late because something “popped up.”

    What popped up is that you didn’t really plan your morning well enough… even though you had a year to do so. A good rule of thumb is that if you’re going to be walking into a Sunday service 5 minutes late or later, then you should probably wait until the next service and go then. If you have an appointment coming up that requires you to attend this mass versus a later one, then at least pray for forgiveness for being so self-absorbed that you couldn’t plan out your morning better even though you had a year to schedule it.

  3. Don’t sit at the end of the pew. This is always a bone of contention for folks who talk about mass attendance. Where should any of us sit when we attend mass? In terms of how far back in the church you should sit, I don’t think there’s a particular unspoken rule or generally accepted bit of guidance on that item. Personally, I like to sit in the fourth row at my church because I can’t quite make out what’s going on at the alter if I sit further back (and that’s with my contacts in). On a rare occasion I’ll sit in either the first or second row, but it depends on how many people are attending mass and how early I get there.

    And that’s the key here – if you arrive at mass early (which most people do on Christmas and Easter), then you absolutely should NOT sit at the end of the pew! When I write “the end of the pew” I mean you walk into the church, choose which row you’re going to sit in, you kneel down, and then sit right there at the end of the pew so that every other person has to walk over/by you in order to sit down. This is rude and obnoxious! If there is no one else in the row, then move into the middle of the pew and sit there. Of course, if you have a medical condition that forces you to leave the mass during the service or if you have another extremely rare situation that requires you to get up and leave in the middle of worship, then you should sit at the end of the pew. But if you’re just old, if you want to be the first one out of the church, if you feel entitled to sit wherever you please, or if you just don’t want to be in the middle of the pew – those excuses don’t count. Don’t be rude, move into the middle of the pew, and make it easier on everyone else.

  4. Yes, YOU have to turn off your cell phone. I always find it amazing when the Deacon or Priest makes a specific request before mass starts that everyone turn off their cell phones and then someone has their cell phone go off during the service. Look, we all make mistakes. I get it. Still, when the Deacon or Priest specifically asks us all to turn off our cell phones, my goodness – the least you can do is put the thing on vibrate! Just remember that when someone says to turn off your cell phone before the service starts, then YES – they are talking to you. Put the thing on vibrate or turn it off.
  5. The response is “And with your spirit.” A few years ago, the church changed America’s “And also with you,” response to “And with your spirit.” As it turns out, the entire world was saying “And with your spirit,” except for those of us here in the United States. I remember when the change took place – it was only a few months after I returned to church on a more regular basis. Believe me, it was mass chaos (pun intended)! People were saying “And also with you,” over others saying “And with your spirit.” There was a comedy about all of it, but after a few weeks most people had the new response down. Sure, a few of the folks who have been attending mass for decades still had a hiccup here and there, but even they’ve gotten the hang of it.

    And then Christmas hit that year and the annuals were inflamed that people were saying the new response versus the old one. But, as we know, the annuals come and go… and usually don’t come back. So then Easter hit and the cries of “Foul!” were heard all over again from the annuals/CEOs. Those folks who had been attending mass regularly since the changes sort of looked at the annuals at that point and thought, “God, help them.” Today – more than two years since the change in the wording has taken place – feigning anger or consternation over the now-not-so-new wording is just ignorant. With these changes in the wording, the entire world now says the same thing during the mass (in their own language, of course). Get with it.

  6. Be quiet! There are many frustrations that regular mass attendees face during Christmas and Easter. Chief among them is the lack of reverence for the sanctity of the mass. The Easter Vigil mass is one of the most solemn if not the most solemn mass of the year. It’s the longest mass of the year (about two and a half hours at my parish) and it’s the one where the most reverence is required. Many people go to the Easter Vigil in an attempt to not go to mass on Easter Sunday, so there is usually a huge attendance at this service.

    And most of the people who attend have no care, concern, or consideration for the reverence of the service. They don’t care that an entire community of churchgoers has been waiting for this mass all year so they can reverently pray and reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    I put this one on the list because of the Easter Vigil mass that I attended this year. I had the unpleasant experience of sitting in front of a troop of girl scouts during the mass. Now look – we have a problem in this country (and Western society in general) where we train our young girls to be vapid, mindless bodies who require excessive amounts of assurance and social agreement in order for them to just feel normal. Why we do this to our girls in this country is beyond me and probably a topic for a future post (though I have a strong suspicion that the problem is linked to the American form of hyper-feminism that has perverted traditional gender roles only to leave future generations in the dark about issues of self-confidence). However, these young girls talked through nearly the entire service. There were not two seconds that went by for the entire two and a half hours where this group of young girls were not gabbing with each other in a hushed whisper. They were doing the fake laughs of approval that are popular among that age group, they talked through each of the readings, they talked through the homily, and they even talked through the Our Father which really amazed me. The only time that these girls gave themselves more than a one second break in their babbling was when they were kneeling down during the preparation of the Eucharist. I think it was because they were positioned where they couldn’t easily interact with one another.

    If you’re attending mass for the first time this year or the first time since Christmas, then do everyone a favor and show some reverence for the service. And if your kids are the ones whispering and not paying attention during the service, then separate them from one another and try to spend some time before mass explaining to your kids about respecting the service and the reverence of the regular churchgoers. Again, if you’re only going once or twice per year, then the least you can do is be respectful during the service.

  7. The issue of babies and kids making noise during the service. For me, this isn’t an issue. I don’t mind a crying baby and I don’t mind a kid who makes noises here and there. I have three baby cousins and I imagine that if they were at mass each week, they would probably cry or make a noise from time to time. The issue here is the parents and their ability to be aware of their surroundings (see the bullet point about being aware of your surroundings). If you have a baby with you and the poor kid is crying nonstop throughout the service, then you should really get up and go into the vestibule or the family-designated room until the baby calms down. You have to be aware of your surroundings. If you’re in the Christmas or Easter service (or any Sunday service for that matter), then chances are that you’re surrounded by hundreds of people who are trying to worship with some peace and dignity. No one is going to care about the occasional cry or whine or noise, but when that noise is constant (like those Girl Scouts in my example above), then you should respect the people who have gathered in the church and move to another location where the noise will not be a distraction.

    Let me offer a brief example because I know there is some ignorant parent out there thinking, “You don’t know what it’s like to have kids!” (Amen!) There is a parent in my parish who has a young kid – the boy has to be 4 or 5 years old. Whenever they’re at mass the kid has a running dialogue that goes through the entire service. Understand what I’m saying here, folks. There is a running dialogue from this kid. He talks nonstop – NONstop during every portion of the mass. He’s not loud and I think that’s why people don’t get particularly mad at the parents (I know I don’t get mad at them, just a little baffled). But after about 30 minutes of nonstop talking (albeit in a hushed tone) it is amazing that the parents don’t take the kid into the vestibule to let him get the rest of his dialogue out before coming back into the service. Of course, you each have your own experiences with something similar, I’m sure. For some of you, the babbling little boy is a 6 month old baby that cries for 45 minutes straight while the parents don’t get up and leave. Whatever the case may be, a good rule of thumb for churchgoers is to never get mad or angry at noises from kids unless they go on for a prolonged period of time and begin to distract from the service. A good rule of them for the parents of noisy kids is to remove the child from the public space after about a minute or two of nonstop noise.

  8. Wait for the person ahead of you. If there was one piece of advice that I could give to most people who are in public places, it would be to be aware of your surroundings! One of the most frustrating things for anyone at mass is for them to go up, receive the Eucharist, and then get in the line for the wine only to begin walking back to their seat and having to climb their way over 7 or 8 people who couldn’t wait an additional 15 seconds for them to finish the wine before rushing back to the pew. While I was at Easter mass, I waited for an older woman who was sitting next to me to get the wine (I didn’t get the wine) and in the process, about 10 people got backed up because they were rushing back to the pew. One woman (in the most passive aggressive way) whispered towards me, “Kinda holding up the line.” Since I don’t respond to numb-minded idiots, I looked past this rude, self-obsessed, dullard of a woman towards the older lady making her way through the jumble of people and offered her to walk ahead of me in the pew so she could go back to sitting next to her equally older husband. The older lady smiled and said “thank you” and I told her “you’re welcome.” Of course, there was an ENORMOUS older guy who couldn’t wait for this older woman to get in the pew so he went ahead of both of us… and then he wouldn’t get out of the old lady’s way. As we began making our way through the pew, the HUGE guy looked at the old lady and smiled. She said she had to get by and he smiled at her again. She then pointed to her husband at the end of the pew and the fat guy looked at the husband and then leaned back maybe half an inch. The woman very politely said to him, “I think you’re going to have to sit down.” So he sat down and we both climbed over him back to our seats.

    The lesson here is that you should always wait for the person ahead of you to go back into the pew before you do. And you should always be aware of your surroundings and how you interact with them!

  9. Wait for the closing hymn to finish. One of the rudest things that takes place on both Christmas and Easter is the rush of the annuals and CEOs to get out of the church immediately after the final blessing. It doesn’t work like that, folks! Granted, the ritual part of the mass is over when the priest gives his final blessing, but out of sheer respect for those who are tasked with the music ministry and out of some semblance of dignity for the sacred service that you’re at, WAIT until the final hymn is finished before you leave your pew and head out the door! Trust me, you’re not that important that you can’t spend another minute and a half listening to the closing hymn before you rush back to your likely-boring life. Show some respect and let the music ministry play or sing you out before you run for the door. Besides, you only go to church once or twice a year – if you want to run out so quickly, then don’t come in the first place.
  10. Don’t hang around primary walkways. This is really a piece of advice for all people in all public places. If you’re attending the church service and you’re either on your way in or on your way out of the building, try not to stop to have a conversation with whoever it is that you’re talking to while you’re standing in the middle of a primary walkway. Look, chances are you’re talking to a neighbor or a friend that you see each week or possibly even every day. Do you really have to stop the flow of people entering or leaving the church to have a 2 to 3 minute conversation about something that is probably a bore and/or meaningless? You can’t cover those topics during the other interactions that you have with this person?

    Is it okay to stop and hug someone that you haven’t seen in a while? Of course. Is it okay to stop and have a 30 second conversation with that person while you’re in the middle of a primary walkway? Of course not.

  11. If you’re not going to participate, consider not attending. This one is a tough piece of advice to give out because as I noted above we welcome everyone to the church and we want you there – particularly on holy days of obligation! However, if you’re not going to pay attention and talk through the entire service or if you’re going to be so preoccupied with your life outside of the church that you can’t give the Lord an hour or so of your time and attention, well you should consider why you’re attending mass in the first place. Somewhere in the Bible it says that going through the motions doesn’t count. In other words, if you go to church just to say (or know in your mind) that you spent an hour in nice clothing listening to a service that you didn’t understand, well… no one is impressed by that except you. If this is your perspective, then chances are you’re breaking most of the suggestions above. Chances are you’re not aware of your surroundings, you’re hanging around primary walkways, you sat down at the end of the pew, you talked or whispered throughout the service, and you’re packing your stuff to leave as soon as the final blessing is over. If that sounds like you, then really consider the question of why you attended in the first place.

While I understand that some of these pieces of advice come off as harsh, the truth is that none of these would even be necessary if we spent more time in this country working on basic manners. And since we don’t spend any time on real manners any more, thus I write this entry to help those of you returning to church either for the first time in a year or the first time since the last major holiday.

Welcome back! Be respectful. Enjoy the service.

There Are Evangelizers In Our Midst… Even in Monmouth County, New Jersey

While the power was out for the last several days, I found myself spending time at a lot of local stores. No, I wasn’t there to buy stuff. I was there to keep warm! Look, when it’s cold out and you don’t have any heat – you’ll do what you have to do to stay warm. For me, that included going to the local Barnes & Noble and reading books (which is something that I do anyway), walking around the local Walmart, and spending time walking around Wegmans (okay I admit it – I bought some stuff for my car while I was at Wegmans).

That’s the base of information that you need to know for this entry. I’ll add this one, crucial piece of information: given that there is near total devastation in many of New Jersey’s shore communities due to the recent super storm and blizzard, there are a lot of out-of-state people up here helping out at a variety of different companies. For example, I’ve seen utility workers from down south (who are running circles around the New Jersey teams, by the way). I’ve also seen insurance adjusters from out-of-state helping homeowners with their claims.

It’s a group effort to recover here in New Jersey.

With that information out of the way, the title of this entry suggests that there are evangelizers among us – even in Monmouth County! Here’s a story that I sent to some of my friends after spending some time warming up and reading a book at the local Barnes & Noble three nights ago. I think you’ll enjoy this:

I’ve been sitting at Barnes & Noble for about 30 minutes and this insurance adjuster – I can tell he’s not from around here by his accent – was sitting across from me the entire time doing some work. I paid no mind to him – I was just flipping between my cell phone and my NOOK.

Anyway, the guy just gathered his things and got ready to leave. When he was ready to go he came over to me and said, “Sir?” I looked up and said, “Yes.”

He said, “Can I tell you something?” I said, “Yeah.”

He said, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” I said, “Yes.”

He said, “Well, his real name is Jehovah. It’s Yahweh. And he’s coming back soon and I just wanted to tell you that he loves you. Just wanted to tell you that he’s coming back and that he loves you.”

I said, “Thank you.”

And he said, “Alright. Have a good night.” And he walked out of the store.

I’m compelled to write this experience on the blog because this type of stuff just doesn’t happen too often in New Jersey. We’re a state with a lot of skeptical people; we have people who are automatically apprehensive towards those that they don’t know. I’ve visited the South many times and it’s a bit disorienting when you’re walking on the street and random strangers greet you with a genuine, “Good afternoon. How do you do today?” It always stops me in my tracks until I get used to it again. That type of forward communication doesn’t happen in New Jersey unless it’s one person looking at another person the wrong way until someone cracks and says, “What are you looking at?”

It’s our way of life in this state. Don’t judge us.

But I had two immediate reactions to this guy coming up to me and saying what he said. First, I immediately felt warmed up in my spiritual heart. I don’t know about you all out there in internet land, but I go to church each Sunday and on Holy Days and I enjoy going to church. I didn’t always enjoy going to church, but I do now and I hope that I will continue to enjoy going to church. So when this person came up to me to tell me things that I pretty much already know and believe in from the teachings of my church – it just felt good.

Second, as I felt warmed up I began to feel better about the horrible situation that I found myself in with no electricity and a cold home to go back to that night. Hey, Jesus loves me – what else do I need, right? :-)

And the third nearly automatic reaction that I had to this guy was a very small voice in my head saying, “What’s his angle? What’s he up to? Keep an eye on him as he leaves the store and make sure he doesn’t hang around. If he follows you home, drive to the police station instead. Maybe you should confront him outside and see what his deal is. I don’t know if I trust him. He did reference Jesus, but who is he?”

Hey, I’m from New Jersey – I’m skeptical about people sometimes!

Anyway, it was an interesting encounter and an overall good message. Over the last few days, I’ve thought about this message and this guy’s confidence and lack of fear in delivering it. Jesus Christ is coming back and he loves you.

Now that’s a pretty uplifting message if there ever was one!

NOOK Book Review: Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Sometimes you watch a clip on the morning news that sticks in your head. A while back (I think it was before Christmas 2010) I saw an interview on FOX & Friends with Todd Burpo and his young son, Colton Burpo. The gist of the teases leading up to the interview were that the young kid claimed to have gone to Heaven and had details on what Heaven is actually like. After hearing those teases as I was getting ready for work I thought, “Okay. I’m sold. Let’s hear this kid’s story.”

I don’t really remember much about the interview other than I couldn’t get an immediate read on whether or not the kid was telling the truth. Sometimes you watch these young kids on television and you can sense that they are coerced into saying certain things by their parents. Other times you watch these kids and just get a bad feeling about the entire story. It’s hard to explain, but if you’ve ever watched a person tell a lie or bend the truth to the point of nearly breaking it in half, then you know what I’m talking about.

I didn’t get that sense from Colton’s story, but I didn’t give it much thought.

The reason the interview was taking place was because the kid’s father wrote a book about his son’s experience. Over the next few months I would pick up the Burpo book at my local Barnes & Noble, flip through it a little bit, and then put it back on the shelf and move on to the next story. Quick side note – even though I own a NOOK Color I still head over to the local Barnes & Noble store to flip through some books to see whether or not I’d want to buy them and also whether or not it would be better to buy the NOOK book version or the paper version. Plus, I like spending a few minutes in the Barnes & Noble – it’s nice and quiet (most of the time).

Anyway, I didn’t consider reading the book until last week when I got my hands on an electronic copy on the NOOK. And, since the book is a relatively short read, I buzzed through over the last few days. I have a few thoughts about the book which are in no particular order below.

  • The first half of the book. No offense to the Burpo family or the writing of this book, but the first half of the book is a bore. Sure, I understand that the first half of the book is written to give a base for the second half of the book and the stories about Colton’s experiences, but if you’re picking up this book to read about Colton’s accounts of Heaven and his experiences with Jesus Christ, then you can skip the entire first half of the book. The family stories, the stories of Todd’s physical trials and pains, the ups and downs of the family – all of that tells a certain story and it’s not the one that I wanted to read when I picked up this book. I’m a spiritual guy, I believe in Jesus Christ and the scriptures, I’m already into all of that. I didn’t need to read about the Burpo family’s seemingly consistent pains and their life in the great wide open of middle America to have the point hammered home that these are regular, everyday Christian people. The entire first half of the book could have been summed up in 2 – 3 pages, which would have allowed this reader (and any other number of readers out there) to get to the real heart of the story.
  • Weird Parental Reactions. This is definitely a regional perspective, but I was shocked at some of the reactions that Todd and his wife Sonja had to Colton’s comments. For example, when Colton tells his father that he sat in Jesus’ lap and that Jesus talked to him and angels sang to him when he was in the hospital, my mind immediately went to a place that wanted to know what the father was going to do about people approaching his son while he was in the hospital. In other words, my immediate reaction to some of what is written in this book is a reaction borne out of living in the northeast United States for all of my life. Almost subconsciously, people in this part of the world process and assess what they hear and come to an immediate, negative conclusion. You might say we judge a book by its cover. The point here is that Todd and Sonja responded to Colton’s experience in a different way than, say, Sonny and Maria would have responded if little Vinny was telling them about people visiting him in his hospital bed in New York City.
  • Colton’s Description of Jesus Christ. All in all, I’m still not sure whether I believe this kid’s experience or not. In truth, I actually believe more of the story than I think could be made up (see next point). Aside from Colton’s knowledge of things that he was never told (like his miscarried sister and his great grandfather Pops), the biggest draw for me to believe his story is his consistently noting that the current vision of Jesus Christ that we have is wrong. I don’t mean that we have the wrong impression of him as our Lord and Savior. I mean his physical appearance is a bit off. Frankly, Jesus Christ was born to a young Palestinian woman (Mary) in the Middle East and yet we show him to be of Anglo-Saxon descent. Something doesn’t seem right in that to me… Colton says that this picture is the best representation of what Jesus Christ actually looks like:

      I don’t know about you, but I see that picture and I think, “Now that’s a better representation of Jesus Christ!” The picture above looks more like a guy who could have been born in the Middle East, right? Plus, that portrait just happened to be painted by a young girl who claims to have also visited Heaven and whose account nearly matches Colton’s account…

  • The swords in Heaven. This was the one part of the book that I thought didn’t flow correctly and, for some reason, made me think that something might be up with the whole thing. It’s all of Chapter 25 that really made me think twice about this story. In short, Burpo tells how he and his family watched The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (an openly Christian-themed fantasy story that became a major motion picture a few years ago) and how Colton positively responded to the White Witch being taken down by Aslan. After some discussion, Colton tells his parents that there are swords in Heaven because Satan isn’t in hell yet. The swords are for the battle that has yet to come (Armageddon) and how Jesus told Colton that he couldn’t have sword because he’d be too dangerous. The parents ask Colton if he saw Satan and he responds that he had seen him. When they ask what he looked like, Colton didn’t respond. When the parents continued to ask Colton about Satan after that night, he still didn’t respond.

      For some reason, that didn’t sit right with me. I understand that this is a young kid and that the thought of Satan, much less the sight of him, must have frightened the kid. Okay, I get that completely. But here is a young kid who is telling wonderful, amazing stories about Jesus Christ and Heaven and then he totally freezes up when the topic of Satan comes up? I don’t know about that – just seems odd.

  • The story just sort of ends. There’s no happy conclusion to Colton’s stories about Jesus Christ and Heaven. They just sort of end. The book is brought to a nice conclusion by Burpo and we even get an epilogue to read through, but that’s it. There’s no summation of salient points and no final dictum from Colton about Heaven or his experiences with Jesus Christ (other than that Jesus really loves children and there’s no way to possibly describe God’s overpowering love for us). The book just kind of… ends.
  • No heavy issues. This one seems obvious, but you’re not going to find discussion of any heavy issues in this book. As a happy Roman Catholic, the big theological issues in my Church revolve around whether or not women should be priests, whether or not priests should be allowed to marry, whether or not homosexuality is acceptable, when abortion is acceptable (if ever), etc. Obviously, a book about a kid who sees Heaven isn’t going to cover those issues. So, if you’re thinking about picking up this book to understand what Heaven thinks about these major issues, don’t bother reading the book.

Those are some of the bigger points that I have about this book. With respect to a recommendation, I’m not against anyone reading this book. In fact, if you can get it at a good price, then I recommend reading it just because the insights that Colton gives about Jesus Christ and Heaven are fun theological points to ponder. Of course there is the big question…

Do I believe Colton’s account of visiting Heaven and spending time with Jesus Christ?

The answer is… more yes than no. That story about the swords in Heaven and the battle yet to come was really improperly placed in the book and is where my doubt (if you can even call it doubt) rests. Let’s be honest – a young kid who just watched the final battle of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (an epic battle between good and evil) is probably more likely to substitute those images for a heavenly battle that will happen at some point in the future. The chapter didn’t sit right with me.

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What did sit right with me was the image of Jesus Christ above that Colton confirmed is what our Savior really looks like in person. The fact that the image was drawn by a young girl who was eight years old when she drew it and also had visions of Heaven and Jesus Christ when she was four years old helps to add some credibility to the story.

In the end, as a happy Roman Catholic who tries his damnedest to practice his life the way that Jesus tells us to in the Bible, I stick with my comment above. I believe more of Colton’s story than I disbelieve.

An Amazing, Happy, Joyous Week and a Half Period for the Global Community

You know, when I think about it – the last week and a half has been absolutely amazing for this world. Welcome back to JerseySmarts.com. Though I have been – and continue to be – swamped with an ever-growing pile of work, I wanted to take a few minutes to write about why the last week and a half has been such a happy time for this planet.

This has been a pretty happy place for the last week and a half.

About a week and a half ago, nearly a one-third of the planet’s population began celebrating the Easter Triduum. The Easter Triduum is the three day period leading up to Easter Sunday and the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly something for believers like me (and some 2.1 billion other believers in Christ) to celebrate.

On the first of two personal notes in this entry, one of the young men that I advised when he was an undergraduate in Sigma Pi Fraternity became a member of the Roman Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil mass. For him – and those of us who know him – this was also a reason for celebration.

After a solemn, joyous Holy Week the world then began preparing for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Normally, I wouldn’t cite this as a reason for the world to celebrate. However, following the tragic, paparazzi-fueled death of his beloved mother Princess Diana, there were many people who saw this past Friday’s wedding as a sort of victory for civility. The Sun Newspaper (based out of the United Kingdom) estimated that up to 3 billion people might watch the wedding. I’ve read post-wedding viewership figures as high as 2 billion, so I don’t know the exact number of people who saw the wedding, but I’m sure that most folks out there either saw the wedding live or saw footage.

In any event, the adoring crowds in the United Kingdom reflected the joy and happiness that most people shared for the young bride and groom.

And on a personal note – this past Friday a good friend of mine got married. I was honored to be one of his groomsmen and the excitement of the wedding helped make this past weekend a really great one for me and the hundreds of people who are celebrating this wedding, too.

And then Sunday, May 1st came. For the more than 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, we celebrated the beatification of Pope John Paul II – now known as Blessed John Paul II. The beatification mass was viewed around the world as a man who many knew as a world leader took the final step before being declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Certainly a reason for celebration among the faithful Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church communities!

Of course the only way for such an amazing week and a half period to come to completion was with the announcement that the United States had located, stormed, and killed the most wanted terrorist in the world. And not only was I excited about the confirmation of Osama bin Laden being killed, but I was proud about the way the United States citizens celebrated the victory. I posted this message on Facebook late last night about our national celebration:

When certain countries on the other side of the world celebrate a big event, radical extremists come out in the streets and burn effigies of world leaders and flags of other nations.

When America celebrates the death of a global mass murderer, we have men, women, young, old, Republicans, Democrats, black, white, Hispanic, etc. all celebrating together chanting “USA! USA! USA!”

We win. Again.

Followers of freedom and believers in liberty have a big reason to celebrate this news. Congratulations go out to the men and women of our military and intelligence services on a job well done.

As I posted on Twitter last night – I feel like this week and a half period of happiness and celebration is the beginning of something great for this world. Let’s hope that the good times keep on coming and that we continue to receive good news (or the Good News, as it were) in the coming days, weeks, and months! Enjoy!

An Easter Poem: Easter Passion by Joseph P. Martino

Once again, JerseySmarts.com is proud to bring its readers a holiday poem by Joseph P. Martino. This time around, Mr. Martino provides an excellent, thoughtful description of the passion of Christ and a reminder why today is the holiest day of the year for Catholics around the world.

Easter Passion

You gave your all,…your love, heart, body and soul,….you took our fall,….as foretold and still remained straight and tall,….to later inspire one and all.

Your head was bloodied by thorns and bowed, not in disgrace,…..but in heavenly grace,……for the whole entire human race.

Your arms were outstretched, hands and feet both bloodied and pierced,….but not your holy spirit, to the very end remaining steadfast and fierce,…..for the world has never known a love so vast.

Because of god’s gift of free will and redemption,…..we all have been bequeathed his love, blessings and exemption.

COPYRIGHT JOSEPH P.MARTINO, AMERICAN WRITER/POET
(1937 – ???) MILLBURN, NEW JERSEY

Thank you, again, Mr. Martino.