From Monday, July 22nd, to Friday, August 2nd , we will be replacing the cushions on the pews. Many people have asked me why can’t we go back to the wooden pews? When the cushions were installed many years ago, at least 50 nails have been driven into the wood. Also, plywood has been added to the pews so that the cushions could be attached. To go back to and restore the original pews would cost about $100,000. For me, that eliminated this idea. I must confess that I never knew that the pews were in such a poor state. Every time I came into the church, people were in the pews so I never saw them. Had I been a layman visiting this church and seeing the condition of the pews, I would have never returned.
When I was a layman, I went on an Opus Dei retreat. My roommate seemed to be a “nature boy” and he immediately got into his St. Francis mode and stripped down into just his gym shorts and went bare chested and shoeless into the chapel to pray. When the Opus Dei people encountered him in the chapel, the poor guy was humiliated. But it does help to ask why would he do this in the first place? People sometimes think that they can establish their own standards for dress, behavior, behavior of their children and a whole host of other ideas. What we do in our homes, we can do because we do set our own standards. But what we do in our churches is not for us to assume that we can do what we do in our own homes. Yes, it is our church, but we do need to establish norms for our behavior. We do pretty well in our church. I do not hear cell phones and that certainly is a blessing. Most of us know to move our little children to the crying room when they become unpredictable and disturb others. I wish I could say better for some of our visitors at weddings and funerals. Recently I was preaching at a funeral and a young woman was chugging her coffee as I spoke. I wanted to laugh at her because it was so – shall we say – bizarre. I hope it was these visitors who are the ones who stained our pews and I pray that we will be able to prevent this from happening in the future. I do not know how, but I will do my best to promote better behavior among those who come into our church with food despite the signs that say otherwise. I have to look to you to support me on that. I placed a garbage pail out in the narthex in the hope of those who come to church with food will stay out there and put their waste into it instead of leaving it on the floor. I hope that those who have adopted the habit of drinking water in church will also stay out there to quench their thirst.
These issues actually occurred in the early church where the wealthier people came drunk for the Mass and humiliated the poor who were excluded from the dinners before the Mass (1 Cor 11:17-22). St. Paul did not take kindly toward this. This incident took place just before the second reading in today’s Mass.
There is also another incentive to get people not to bring food into the church. The Church requires us not to eat any food for an hour before we receive Holy Communion. For us who are older, we recall the 3 hour fast and if you are real old, the night before fast. I think the idea was to make a distinction between regular food and spiritual food. So if we follow Church law, there really is no reason why anyone should be bringing in food to the church.
Now that it is summer, some of us may decide to wear less when we come to church. I remember I was giving out Holy Communion at Mass and an elderly woman came forward to receive. While I was trying to put the host on her tongue, she moved and it fell down through her cleavage. I thought God had a sense of humor. Fortunately for us, most of us do dress modestly when they come to church and I thank you all for that. So let’s have a good summer and let’s look forward to a new clean church. Please pray for our generous benefactor who is giving us a fresh start to make our church as outstanding as our school.
Fr. Vincent Euk