Monday, November 8, 2010

Every Mass...Trick or Treat?

This past week, as you well know, was "trick or treat" night. Well, I experienced a little of a trick that evening myself! As I left my home in Sun Lakes, I was all prepared to reflect on what I had written here. I was going to deal with the fact that our God not only talks the walk, but He came to walk the talk. In doing so, we have a model to follow. A model that challenges us to walk the same path he has laid out for us. We will then be a people that will really walk the path our God-Father, has intended for our wholeness and happiness. Such was my intention, when the thought flashed through my mind, this is "trick or treat" night. Then the question, "will those who come to Mass lose out on anything? The answer came, of course not! Then the thought process began to expand. Here are some of the thoughts, which are also pretty much what I shared at Mass.

On Halloween, those who go from door to door, always begins with an empty bag or bucket. There is then room for the goodies to be received, into the emptiness. The greater the emptiness the more room there is for gifts, to be received. The gifts that are received will come from the generosity of the giver and cannot be earned or demanded. What happens at each mass we attend? We bring our emptiness to each celebration. Life empties us out. Living life reveals to us our powerlessness, our lack of control, our essential loneliness, all those things that force us into the admission we are after all just a regular human being. We are not the exception to the rule. We begin each celebration with the admission, we are sinners. That is we have said no to God's love, and went in search of an apparent good, only to be very disappointed, eventually. We come to recognize, where we have said no, and the place of the ensuing pain, needs to be handed over to the infinite, prodigal, mercy of our Gracious God. This then is the place of emptiness. This is our empty that will be filled up with what we need, not what we want.

I have been so culturally deprived. I never went trick or treating. So you have to forgive me if I make some mistakes. I have been on the giving end, not on the receiving end. As you look on the faces of the little ones, especially the real little ones, there is a great sense of expectation. When you produce some goodies that meets that expectation there is the familiar, "oh wow". Skittles, M&Ms, Kit Kats will trigger such a response. There will be a rush to tell their friends the good news of what is awaiting them. Then you have to face this new group who has these great expectations. Now let’s switch things up a little.

How about this scenario? What if, instead of the expected treats, a plate of celery, carrots, raisins, and other vegetables was produced.
Would not there be a response like, first of all dead silence, followed with "What gives?”, “Who are you , my parent?”. They would not be very happy campers. They would not be consoled with the trite statement, "vegetables are good for you". They expected candy and will not settle for anything less. Veggies do not provide what Skittles can provide. (Personally a dark chocolate Kit Kat will do the trick.) We want what tastes good, not necessarily what is good. We want that good rush which comes with instant satisfaction. We do not want to wait for the process which allows serenity, and peace of mind to flow into us, or should I not say, to bubble up from WITHIN us. We want religiosity, not spirituality.

How often do we approach the Liturgy of The Mass with the expectation of coming away feeling good. If that does not happen, then there is something wrong. We attended the celebration with the expectation we will hear that which will confirm some pet idea , which bolsters our sense of our own perceived goodness. That did not happen. Instead we were confronted with a message that confronted our preconceived ideas, and smug self righteousness. In other words we wanted candy and got veggies. Here is the question, “Will we be as enthusiastic about spreading the good news of veggies received, as we are in letting everybody know of the "candy" that is waiting for them?”. Our God always gifts us what is good for us, not what we think, or feel is good for us. Lastly, what steps are you going to take to make sure the bucket of the soul is empty, so as to be filled with that which really nourishes us, not just gives us a cheap high. How blessed are you when you are responsible and responsive, and share that gift with your fellow travelers.

Those who attended that Halloween mass were given THE TREAT. The Treat which is essential for healthy spiritual living. The Treat, that comes to us as bread and wine is in fact that which we all seeks as we go about seeking out, and accepting what life has to offer us. That Real God, is behind all of our seeking and searching. We will find ourselves knocking on many doors, only to be disappointed with what is offered. Eventually we will be lead to the peace and quiet that is always within our own souls. On that journey, we will not survive on candy, nor on just pious religious feelings. We will find our strength from that which comes from the same source as we do, namely the earth. It is from the earth, the humus, the human, comes our real nourishment for the journey into reality. That journey we name, the spiritual journey. Let us rest in The Real, and not be seduced by the candy of fantasy, of unreality. Let us not be so tricked that we lose out on “THE TREAT”.


  1. That's actually a really neat analogy. The veggie vs. candy comparison made a lot of sense too. I totally get what you're trying to say! Thanks!

    By the way, one year when I handed out candy for Halloween at St. Andrew's, a mother came up to me and requested that I give her kids peanut butter and crackers instead of candy. I know the request had nothing to do with spirituality, but it sure does put it into perspective!

  2. As Anony-moose said above, your homily shed new light on perspective.

    I really dug and will reflect upon the "Adventure is not outside a man; it is within"

    Peace be with you, Father Joe.