GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

Love your neighbor...and Whisper!

In recent years all too many Catholics have LOST a certain gift. It is a gift that relates to love of neighbor.

What has been lost is the gift of..... WHISPERING.

Now before you laugh... get serious! Iím serious! My experience is that Catholics have lost the ability to whisper. Whether it is in the confessional or in Church after Mass, I hear Catholics speaking so loudly in Church that one would think they had no sensitivity as to their whereabouts or care if others heard them.

A few weeks ago, I went to confession in a local parish. I was conscious of whispering my story, especially since there were several people sitting within 3 feet of the confessional. But the priest blurted out my penance, which I am sure could have been heard 20 feet away from the confessional. This priest is noted for his heavy-penance giving. Now my complaint is not about the big penance he gave me... (you can laugh now, if you want). My complaint is about the insensitivity with which I was given that penance. I thanked God as I was coming out of the confessional that the priest did not talk to me about what I talked to him about!!!! Follow me, now!

In another parish where I sometimes attend Sunday Mass, the young assistant priest always greets people outside the door as they leave after Mass. So far so good! Thatís nice! But.... when he re-enters the Church (and it never seems to fail)... he comes in talking so loudly... calling to people on the other side of the interior of the Church, as though he was at a baseball game.

Iíve heard that Catholics should be more sociable, and that the newer generation of clergymen want people to feel that Church is a place to be friendly with others and that Church should be a place of getting-along-better-with-your-neighbors.

Well, excuse me a moment! If several persons stay after Mass to spend some deep prayerful time with Our Lord Whom they have just received into their hearts, how does speaking loudly help bring about a getting-along-better-with-your-neighbors attitude?

Frankly, it irritates me so much and I have complained so often to Jesus about the disrespect shown in His House that I almost want to cry. Iíd be willing to bet that He is even more insulted than I.

I think of what Our Lady said in one of her messages from Medjugorje. She said that a Church is Godís palace. She didnít say it was a park, or a social hall, but that it is Godís PALACE.

How many people in their right minds would go into the palace of a sultan or royalty of England or even into the White House and talk so loudly that everybody in the vacinity can hear them? Such behavior would be indicative of bad manners.

When people speak loudly and prolongedly in Church, there is absolutely no sensitivity, shame or consideration of anyone else. Is this real charity... real love of neighbor? Is this not tremendous evidence that the offenders do not realize in Whose Presence they are?

This matter gripes me terribly. Perhaps the offense is indicative of a lack of Faith that Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. How sad! How sad for Jesus and how sad for the lack of consideration and CHARITY it reflects for those who wish to have some real quality time with Jesus after Communion.

Did you know that Jesus stays with us for about 20 minutes after we receive Him in Holy Communion? But so many rush out after Mass so quickly,.... well, ... poor Jesus! How little real attention we give Him!

Now, lest you think that I think that all talking in Church should be taboo, permit me to say that charity may demand that a smile, a recognition of our neighbor, a very quiet "How are ya doiní?" might in effect be pleasing to God. But this should be done with total consideration of where one is... In Godís House. LOUD, PROLONGED exchange of information between peoples is (objectively speaking) sinfully offensive to God and others around and certainly is not conducive to building charitable relationships with all.

The Church is Godís House FIRST. And ours only second. It behooves us to always remember WHERE we are and the respect due to the King of Kings and His other children who really want to talk from their hearts to Him.

Satan is the victor for those who create a disruption in Godís House. Satan doesnít want people to pray or pay attention to Our Lord. So he wins when chaos is created there.

But mark my word. The day is coming and soon, when the scales will fall from peopleís eyes. The day is coming when people will enter Church with reverential fear, trembling and gratitude that God would permit them to come into His Presence.

Why not begin now to create loving respect in Godís Palace?