Part of moving to a new place, or even going on vacation, is finding where you will go to church on Sunday. I remember growing up and going camping for vacation. Part of the planning was always “Where and when will we go to church?” There were a few times that we genuinely couldn’t make it to Mass so we would read the readings as a family, light a candle, offer prayers and intentions and say an Our Father. Sometimes we even tried to sing. These were special moments for our family and memories I cherish.
This weekend was the first Sunday we had to venture out and try a new parish (we are spoiled, last week Ben’s uncle, a Dominican priest, said Mass for us and some extended family at another family member’s house). After talking to a few Catholic friends in the area we decided to try one parish that is quite close to our house.
The parishioners were very inviting and if we decide to attend there regularly during our stay in San Antonio we will be getting to Mass rather early – it’s a large community! Gotta get those good seats *wink. The kids did very well for their first time in the new space and even though it was such a large community we were still recognized at the end of Mass as newcomers. Even more surprising, people actually talked to us and said “Welcome! We hope to see you again next week. When did you arrive?” And I mean multiple people, not just those with name tags on who are part of the welcoming committee.
The whole experience tied in very nicely with one of the priest’s main points during his homily (yes, the kids were so well behaved I was actually able to pay attention and retain what I heard for more than 3 words at a time). The priest talked about how the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith – to increase the quantity of their faith. He mentioned how in one episode prior to this question highlights the issue. They failed to drive a demon out of a boy because Jesus said they lacked faith. They thought they needed more in order to do more.
So much of Jesus’ message is that we should seek after quality, not quantity. The disciples didn’t need more faith, they needed a deeper faith. That is why faith the size of a mustard seed (which was one of the smallest seeds in the Middle East) can move a mountain. Think about the parables about the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us about a man who sells all he has so that he might acquire the pearl of great price. The man doesn’t need a large quantity of pearls, he just needs the one which is a pearl above all other pearls.
Or try this on for size. Many people, myself included, often ask God for more patience. But is it more patience we need, or do we need to better use the patience we have. How many of us remember our mothers disciplining us in loud voice, say something along the lines of “I’ve lost my patience” and then answer the phone in a calm voice and carry on a conversation that required the patience that was supposedly lost? Perhaps that is a more autobiographical story than a memory…..
We have plenty of patience and, for those of us baptized and especially confirmed we have been given the gift of faith. We don’t need more, we need to grow it deeper. Consider another parable (Jesus was full of those, wasn’t he?). A man goes out and sows seeds. Some fell on rocks, others on the road, others on a bed of thorns and a precious few in good soil. The seed is faith. No matter how many seeds the man sows, if they fall on rocks there will be nothing for them to dig their roots in.
So how do we grow our faith deeper? To start with, we need to prioritize prayer. We need to go to Mass to receive Jesus. We need to talk about God in our homes, with our spouses, our children and our friends. We need to learn about our faith and understand why we believe what we profess to believe.
Now I know that not everyone likes to talk about Christmas when we are barely in October, but hear me out. Advent begins on Nov. 27. What is one of these things that you can really focus on growing in during the 4 weeks leading up to the birth of Christ? Personally, it is going to be prioritizing prayer in a more intentional way. And really, I should start today, not wait 2 months. (which means getting myself up before the kids so that I can pray in peace. Morning wake ups are not one of my strengths, which many of you who have been following this blog are aware.) Pray for me! I will be praying for you too.
You may have noticed that my blog has a new address! I’m so excited to announce that I officially have my own site dailygraces.net. Plus a snazzy new look. I’m so excited and thankful for the support Ben has given me during this transition. The old address will forward you to the new one so don’t worry about losing any links you may have saved or enjoy coming back to. Grace and peace for your coming week!