Choosing your friends or being part of a group is not easy. Sometimes we are happy just to belong, to be in a relationship, we don't stop to examine whom we associate with. For instance, how many of your relationships are good or bad for you?
I am blessed to be close friends with my former pastor, Msgr. Marren. It is not an understatement to say that a great deal of my spiritual growth was because of him. I don't get to see him much anymore ever since he was transferred to another parish. I miss those times when we could just go out and I get to ask for his guidance in all sorts of things.
During my last visit with Msgr. Marren, I asked him about a problem faced by many of my acquaintances. How come many people feel disconnected to the Mass? For many, going to Mass is an obligation that must be satisfied."Rick, I want you to think of your best friend in life,"
says Msgr. Marren. My wife Christy naturally came to mind. "I want you to imagine the big crucifix at your parish, take down the corpus, and replace the corpus with your best friend,"
continued Msgr. Marren.
"How would you feel going to Mass
seeing your best friend on the cross?"
"Would your experience of going to Mass change if your best friend is hanging there?"
I was silent. I couldn't even imagine what Msgr. Marren was asking me to imagine. I would rather have myself hanging on the cross. I don't know about you but I don't want to imagine such a scenario. I can probably never go to church if that was the case.
After allowing me several minutes of silence, Msgr. Marren finally spoke again. He said, "It's OK. It is not meant to be easy if you truly think about these things." Let me ask you one last question, he said.
"When you brought down the corpus and replaced it with your best friend, did you bring the body of the Lord Jesus back up in its place?"
I was ashamed to admit I did not immediately think of Jesus Christ as my best friend. I learned a valuable lesson that day. You see, the reason why we take going to Mass for granted, or lightly, is we don't have a deep connection with the Lord. He is not our best friend, perhaps not even one of our closest friends. When we develop a deep friendship with the Lord, our experience of going to Mass is transformed. Imagine seeing your best friend hanging on the cross, having sacrificed and died for you when you go to church!
We have to pay attention to the friends we choose. I am blessed to have friends such as Msgr. Marren.
Two weeks ago I went to Mexico to give donations for scholarships and help the poor and sick people. You made my visit possible, our loyal friend. I met new friends during my visit. I flew to Mexico by myself but I was not alone. I was mindful to bring my best friend. I was with the Lord. I wish you could have been there with us.