Tag Archives: Catholic mass

Why the holy water doesn’t land on me.

Chillan, Chile. May 1, 2017. The bishop blesses the Catholics attending the Blessed Sacrament with holy water….

Every year at Easter, we Catholics renew our baptismal vows. Then for the next five weeks, our ministers pass among the congregation, sprinkling us with holy water as a further reminder of our vows.

Most often, the holy water misses me and I’ve often wondered why. I can think of some spiritual possibilities, but I think the answer is a more practical one. I am a middle-of-the-pew Christian. It’s not that the seats on the aisle are all taken. I arrive early to mass and usually have my choice of seats. I choose to sit in the middle.

As I look out at the congregation, it appears as though someone has taken a huge magnet and passed it over the middle of the rows of pews, pushing everyone to the sides like iron filings. The people on the aisles are often  firmly entrenched, and others are forced to wiggle their way around them. There are those who need to get up during the service, commentators, readers, ushers, etc.  Sitting on the aisle is a requirement for them so they don’t have to disturb anyone. For the rest of us, we have a choice.

In my hope to convert others to the joy of sitting in the middle, I would like to offer these advantages:

  •  There is a lot more room in the middle. With everyone crowded along the edges, those of us in the middle can spread out.
  •  There are really nice people in the middle. I’m not saying those on the aisles are not nice, but I feel a kind of kinship with those in the middle.
  •  You don’t have to worry about people climbing over and around you.
  • You get to stay to the very end of the service. There’s no reason to hurry out the door. Life is crazy out there. Why not linger a little longer were there is peace and joy.
  •  You will leave room for those who need to sit on the aisle–those who arrive late, parents with small children, people who have physical limitations.

Those of you who move into the middle can probably think of other advantages. It is my hope that by pointing this out, others may choose to join us. See you in church!

If you have questions or comments, you can email me at contactme@handyhelpersbooks.com


My Little Mass Journal

Each week, when I go to mass, I carry with me my Mass Journal. It’s a tiny book, but it has a big impact on my life.  Each week, I write something in my journal–something God tells me to write.

It requires faith. First of all, I must have faith that God will talk to me sometime during the mass and that He will tell me to do something. So far, he has never let me down. Then, I must have faith that God will be with me, so that I can carry out what He gives me to do. And finally, I must have faith that it will change my life.

I try not to think about my Mass Journal until the offertory. At that time, I read the prayer on the back.  Then I wait. Sometimes mass is almost over before I know what I’m to do.

On Easter Sunday, I went to the early mass, hoping to get ahead of the crowds that usually fill our church during the 9:30 mass on that day. As I always do, I waited until the offertory to ask God what He wanted me to do this week. And as He always does, He told me.  I wrote it down in my journal.

The next weekend, as I was leaving for mass, I grabbed my journal. “What was I supposed to do this week?” I asked myself. “Whatever it was I didn’t do it.” Opening my journal, I read, “Open your heart to someone in need this week. I will show you who it is.” I was surprised at what I had written. No person in need had presented himself to me this week–or maybe I was too busy and didn’t notice.

Off I went to mass, carrying my journal with me, ready for a new assignment. Just before mass began, a young man from Central America spoke to us. Struggling with English, he explained that he was raising money to help people in need. He was asking us to buy a book about our faith. He was selling the books for five dollars. As mass began, I thought about whether or not I should buy a book. I had a twenty-dollar bill in my car. I could go get it after mass. Other people would probably buy books, so maybe I wouldn’t bother. But what if no one did? I didn’t want this young man to go away empty handed.

When it was time for the offertory, I picked up my mass journal. There I read what I had written the week before–but something else had been added. It was not in my handwriting, and it had not been there when I had taken out my mass journal to bring it with me to mass. But there it was plain as day–

There was no doubt in my mind what I was supposed to do. I gave the young man the $20. “No,” I said. “I don’t need any change. This is for you.”