Don’t you just love when God affirms what you thought? Or in my case, what I wrote?
After reading that sentence I realize that it sounds a tad conceited, self-centered, self-serving…but hey, aren’t we all entitled sometimes?! It says so in Kathleen M. Carroll’s book, A Franciscan Christmas:
We must be humble enough to recognize that we are not the center of the universe, but faithful enough to know that God frequently acts as though we are.
You See!?! Not exactly what I said, but, I’ll take it 😉
What I am referring to is my post titled, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” It just went up the other day. In it I quote Matthew 10:34. And wouldn’t you know it, the day when we Honor St. Hilary, January 13th, American Catholic has the same piece of scripture quoted!
This staunch defender of the divinity of Christ was a gentle and courteous man, devoted to writing some of the greatest theology on the Trinity, and was like his Master in being labeled a “disturber of the peace.” In a very troubled period in the Church, his holiness was lived out in both scholarship and controversy.
Raised a pagan, he was converted to Christianity when he met his God of nature in the Scriptures. His wife was still living when he was chosen, against his will, to be the bishop of Poitiers in France. He was soon taken up with battling what became the scourge of the fourth century, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.
The heresy spread rapidly. St. Jerome said “The world groaned and marveled to find that it was Arian.” When Emperor Constantius ordered all the bishops of the West to sign a condemnation of Athanasius, the great defender of the faith in the East, Hilary refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia. Eventually he was called the “Athanasius of the West.” While writing in exile, he was invited by some semi-Arians (hoping for reconciliation) to a council the emperor called to counteract the Council of Nicea. But Hilary predictably defended the Church, and when he sought public debate with the heretical bishop who had exiled him, the Arians, dreading the meeting and its outcome, pleaded with the emperor to send this troublemaker back home. Hilary was welcomed by his people.
Christ said his coming would bring not peace but a sword (see Matthew 10:34) [Stressed by FTP]. The Gospels offer no support for us if we fantasize about a sunlit holiness that knows no problems. Christ did not escape at the last moment, though he did live happily ever after—after a life of controversy, problems, pain and frustration. Hilary, like all saints, simply had more of the same.
Can you say, Justification?!
You may be wondering why I am gloating left and right? Or not. Either way, I will share with you…
I was fortunate enough, after weeks of attending Mass at Our Lady of the Valley and not getting to hear a Padre Regañon (Nagging Father) Homily, to finally sit in The Pews and enjoy one of his Homilies.
Allow me to give you a bit of background on this Padre Regañon. Father Roman’s notoriety has earned him this title.
I heard – and this is precisely one of the reasons one must judge for oneself and never, EVER listen to gossip due to the grave danger and hurt it causes, not to mention that it’s a Sin – that Father Roman was Extremely Strict! That one had to sit facing forward at all times. You could never, ever look to the side, down, back, or anywhere but towards him otherwise he would draw attention to you and chastise you in an utterly humiliating fashion.
Also, that he always expects people to participate!
I know, right. How dare he?! Always participate? You’d think we were in a Public Prayer or something.
Furthermore, that during his Homilies he walks around. That he grabs the microphone and weaves up and down the rows of Pews nagging the Parishioners with his views, knowledge, advice and he even dares to ask questions! And he expects the Parishioners to answer them!! And these questions…well! They can range anywhere from what was said in the Readings, in the Gospel. They can be questions soliciting Parishioners opinions, how they feel about things, situations, circumstances. They can even be questions about the Churches Teachings, stuff right out of the CCC. They can be questions regarding the knowledge that we possess about our Faith. I mean really, he thinks he can ask all these questions and that the Individuals sitting in the Pews will actively participate! What is he thinking? That he’s some type of Spiritual Advisor or something? That he can go around challenging the Comfort Zones of the Broad Spectrum of Catholics? Holiday Catholics, Cafeteria Catholics (Thanks, Camille), Cradle Catholics, Practicing Catholics, etc?
On top of all this, that he expects people to learn about and know Christ, to know about their Mother Church, to know about Dogma’s and Doctrines! I mean really!
So, yes. This is what I heard from some Parishioners at OLV. Other Parishioners Thank God that he is there and that he is teaching, guiding, catechizing, forming, informing, Serving…
As you can safely assume, I could not wait to attend a Mass where Father Roman would be Celebrating.
It took weeks! But, I was finally fortunate enough to do so. And I have to tell you, I kept waiting for the nagging. I kept waiting for the humiliating glances or comments.
During his Homily, however, he did walk around and he spoke to us about the Christmas Season. How it did not end on Christmas Day. That Christmas Day is the First Day of Christmas, the last is the Epiphany.
He spoke to us about the New Year. What it signified, what it represented, what it could hold. He then asked what it was that we wanted in the New Year.
Did we want Peace, Harmony, Joy, Love?
The nods, the yeses, the smiles, they were all unanimous.
He told us that if we allowed God in our Lives, we would have that. But that we REALLY had to allow Him in. Be Like Him. Believe in Him, His Teachings…See Him in our Loved Ones, our Enemies, our Neighbors. He Guaranteed a Happy and Harmonious New Year if we did this.
I have to confess here that I kept smiling because I STILL think that he is WRONG. 😉 The more Christ-like we become, the more Convicted we become in our Faith, I truly believe the less “Worldly” Peace we will have.
But yes, the more Fortitude, Love of Neighbor, Spiritual and Heavenly God-Sent Peace we will achieve. And since he didn’t specify to which of these he was referring…he’s still Wrong.
Okay, so I like to be a Disturber at times. 😛
Oh, and he does not fall far behind. I just have to share with you all a quick quip of his. As he was speaking to us about Knowing Christ, he made it a point to mention that there were Catechists that were supposed to be introducing our Children to God and His works for their First Communion, but that there were Catechists, one that was there in particular, who didn’t know Christ themselves! So how were they possibly going to educate our Children. He went on to say that he was glad that the Coordinator for Religious Education was there so that she could hear what he had just said.
WOW!!! Straight Out!! OUCHIE!! The reason it is so funny is because apparently he’s not at all shy when it comes to telling us, to our faces, how flawed we are. Especially when we do things out of Vainglory, or for Power…he calls us out. And we, of course don’t like it. And some of those WE, have been quite underhanded and conniving. Sad, isn’t it? We Sinful, Sorry, Fallen Human Beings, I tell ya…
After this “ordeal,” he then proceeded by asking what were the things for which we gave Thanks to Our Lord. For what were we Grateful?
Some people were grateful for their Health. Their Jobs.
With his guidance, it turned out that Parishioners were grateful for their Families, their Spouses, their Children.
One could tell that he was still not satisfied with those answers.
Father Roman then turned to the Children and the Youth, those that were paying attention anyway, and asked, “De que dan Gracias?” What are you Thankful for?
He shook his head smiling and asked if they were not grateful for their Parents? Or were they grateful for their presents under the tree? At that, laughter. The Youth finally awoke. But only for that small moment.
He continued to weave up and down and stated that some may be thankful for the Light of Christ, for their Faith. Some shouted that they were grateful for the Sacrifice of the Mass, for the Gift of Life.
He still didn’t look too satisfied as he walked towards the altar and asked if we were not grateful for the Vocation of Priests…that many places in the world may have a Chapel, a tiny Church, but no one to Celebrate, no one to Consecrate…
Now, at this point you may wonder why I didn’t speak up. Besides the fact that I was soaking it all in, I wanted to get the “full” Padre Regañon Experience, I did think to myself that I was thankful for Suffering. And I wanted to say it, but everything that was being said was positive…
Although, in retrospect, that is probably what he was getting at, having started the Homily with how things could be different in the New Year, better. And one can only know better, or good, if one is familiar with or knows the worse, the bad.
Then right before he continued the Celebration, Father Roman asked if we knew who were the most grateful for Children. I answered, “those who don’t have them.” He then said, “Those who do not have them.” I smiled. Darn it! Suffering. I should have spoken up!
I am not doing his Homily or him any justice, believe me. It was truly an experience…You had to have been there 😉
All in all though, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed that Father Roman fell short of the Nagging Persona that is so deeply feared and talked about. I kind of wanted to experience that Old Skool kind of Fear. Back to when I was growing up and we all Feared Disrespecting our Elders, Feared misbehaving, Feared doing something wrong due to Fear of God.
Was I disappointed in the Actual Man? Not in the least! He’s quite complex. Very Intelligent. Very Wise. Very Radical. Rooted in Christ (Thanks for that, Vlad)! We can all Learn so much from Shepherds like that. I Pray that the Parishioners at OLV see that…
Que Dios lo Bendiga…Que Nuestra Madre lo continue Protegiendo…Y que el Espiritu Santo lo siga Iluminando…
Gracias, Padre Regañon 😉