Wednesday, April 26, 2023

What stood out during Florida trip

 One of the highlights of our annual week-long vacation to Florida the last few years has, interestingly enough, been the Sunday Mass at St. John's Catholic Church in St. Petersburg.

Coincidentally, during my grade school years living in LeMars, Iowa, my family attended St. John's Lutheran Church. Just a side note, interesting to me.

It's odd to me that our week of beaches, bikinis, baseball, rock bands and fishing, can be highlighted by that Mass and its priest. It's just such a joyous event. He is sunshine personified in the middle of all that sunshine that is Florida. It's joy in the middle of an older, racially-diverse, area of St. Pete. 

If you know anything about me, you should know I am an impatient man. Homilies (ie sermons) over 15 minutes start to make me feel itchy. Mass over an hour, similarly. This Mass lasted an hour and 40 minutes. The priest's homily just under an hour. (Yes, I time them.) But the entire event seemed like 30 minutes. It flew by. I couldn't believe I'd sat still that long, that enthralled, that touched. But I was.

At one point I thought to myself that when we got in the car wifey was going to turn to me and suggest: "Let's just quit our jobs and move here." Because I know she feels the same way about that Mass. I pondered what my reply would be. As it was, she didn't say it, even if she felt it.

Upon later introspection, of which I'm all too often a victim, I began to feel guilty for not enjoying all Masses, regardless of the priest and the location, the same way. Am I so fickle, my devoutness so shallow, that I need a particular priest to enthuse me? Shouldn't I be enthused for God all the time? Or most of the time?

Sure, a good priest makes a good congregation, but I feel like my baseline for enjoying church should be higher. They should almost always be good, with some great ones and an occasional clunker thrown in. Not everyone can be on their game every Sunday (just ask the Minnesota Vikings).

I need to work on that. Just another thing to add to the list. You'd think by year 58 I'd have it figured out. The older I get, the more stuff I find out I don't have figured out. 

I guess the season of Lent was a good time to give that extra effort, build some momentum, get better, be better. Life is tiring sometimes when you care about that stuff. I guess it's good that I'm thinking about it, trying. The struggle is real.

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