Being back in Louisburg I wanted to establish a closer relationship with Monsignor Bergman. I had heard great things about him (I mean … he's a Catholic Monsignor, is there anything bad to say?) and was looking forward to getting to know him more personally. Our first conversation had me blown away with the life he's lived: studying in Rome, working in the Vatican, being familiar with many cultures and languages - I was impressed.
Learning so much about his life had me very excited, brainstorming all of the ways we could use his experiences to draw in a crowd to the parish:
"Monsignor! You're such a cool cat. Let's use some of your experiences to shine some light on the parish and spice up the website."
His wise response back to me was (in summary):
On Palm Sunday, it would have been pretty easy for the donkey to assume that all of the ribbons and robes and decorations and celebrations were for him as he brought Jesus into Jerusalem. But we all know the show wasn't for him. His duty was carrying Jesus into the city, bringing the people their savior.
That's Monsignor Bergman's outlook on his duty to our parish. He is here to carry us closer to God and to let us be the show.
This got me thinking…what if everyone had this outlook? What if we worked not for our own self-interest, but solely for the betterment of others? Monsignor has made great accomplishments throughout his life, but only to put himself in a position that improves his ability to help others. Whether it is through improving your education, certifications, or financial success, use your "upper hand" on the world for good. Be the donkey for your family, your community, the world - because just like that donkey, you're still a -very important- part of the show.
First off I'd like to tell you a little about me…
My name is Kate Dixon and I've been a member of Immaculate Conception Church since birth. Being a third generation member of ICC made Catholicism a huge part of my life, and therefore never something in which I needed to take my own initiative. My faith was simply something I just participated in with my family. I took pride in being a Catholic, but honestly had no idea what that entailed.
Fast forward three years and I was a lost girl. I hadn't been to mass with the exception of important holidays, was no longer a believer in the ways of the Catholic church, and my faith was something that rarely crossed my mind. When one day I found myself questioning my belief in God altogether I knew it was time for a lifestyle change.
Although I still was very much against what I viewed as the close-minded ways of the Catholic church, it was what I was comfortable with and I needed to get reconnected with God in whatever way I could. I figured attending Kansas State's student church would be a start, and once I found a religion that better matched my beliefs I could convert. Catholicism was a desperately-needed, spiritual safety net and only temporary…at least that was my thought as I walked into my first Catholic mass in well over a year.
I go through the motions of mass, all of the old habits flowing back as if I'd never been gone. I felt at home.
However, this wasn't enough to convince me to fall back in love with Catholicism. My biggest issue was the idea that this religion was less accepting and considerate of other religions. As I sat there I still couldn't help but feel disconnected from the parish thinking:
"I don't know if this is the right way to practice religion."
"I can find better ways to build my relationship with God."
"Catholicism isn't right for me."
"God, show me where I can find my religious home."
That's when he poked out of the clouds, pointed at me, and showed me up with the liturgy presenting this reading:
Brothers and sisters:
What does Scripture say?
The word is near you,
in your mouth and in your heart
—that is, the word of faith that we preach—,
for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For one believes with the heart and so is justified,
and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
For the Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all,
enriching all who call upon him.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
My jaw dropped, but kept my cool. That is until the homily when He showed me what's up through the priest. Here's the summary of what he said:
There are many ways to build our relationship with the Lord. The purpose of religion is to give people a structure and set of rules to follow in order to strengthen that relationship. Catholicism is just that. The firm traditions and foundation that it has set in our world is outstanding; there is no other institution in the world that has outlasted it. This is due to the people of the church recognizing the differences in their beliefs in the Catholic church, but continuing to believe in its foundational concepts. Catholicism is successful and so long-lasting because it serves its purpose as a forever home (and safety net) for those that are lead astray. Faith is all about your one-on-one relationship with God. Catholicism serves as a resource to build this relationship, and has done so successfully for many, many years.
I left mass that day feeling welcomed home and proud to be Catholic.
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