I witnessed a cool thing last night. I went to mass last night at St. Bernard’s in Mt. Lebanon. I’ve been church hopping a lot and tend to go back and forth between traditional catholic masses because I was raised and confirmed in the Catholic Church. When I was about 15, I began going to a modern non devotional church. I know there’s tons of stigma behind Catholicism and in some ways I get it, but we’re all there for the same sole purpose and that’s to devote an hour or so to Jesus, so, everyone should probs chill with the bashing of another faith. (This is my opinion, yo.) and I’m not confused, I just can appreciate both sides of each spectrum, like praying to saints and then going straight to God for the forgiveness of my sins, and I guess that’s just how I roll. I am also a very flawed and imperfect being, which adds to my hesitation to even write about something so intense, and controversial… but this is my belief, and these are my thoughts… so. Here we go-
So yeah, I hop around a lot and there’s some traditions in the Catholic Church that I find beautiful but I can also get down and sing til I lose my voice with a more modern, contemporary Presbyterian service. Cause again, we’re there for Jesus. And of course, I spend lots of time in prayer or bible study, even meditate during savasayna during Yoga and believe that the human body has chakkras.
Call me a contradiction, whatever.
I’m writing this because of something cool I wanted to share that I witnessed at mass last night. Like the stigma around Catholicism/Christianity, thre is that argument people like to use of “oh, well all the church wants is your money and they’re all hypocrites, and also they hate eveyrone… Etc.”
[Yes, it is unfortunate that this kind of hateful, judgey, preachy religion and corrupt churches do exist, that is a very small, misrepresented percentage of Christians/”religious people” that ruin it for those of us still lovin’ on others with hopeful hearts, still striving to get other people to accept Christ as their savior and believe that yes, He loves you right back, no matter who you are or what you have done.]
And I will admit– I used this initial-self-idolized-worldly-argument a lot too. I used it as a way to not go to church, to join in popular conversations because I thought it was rebellious and cool to be self righteous, to stir the pot just because. I thought, “if Jesus loves me, why do I need to donate my money? ” because it was easier than standing up for what I believed in- God.
Here’s what I learned through years and years of back and forth, days of throwing in my towel, shaking my fist and yelling at the sky: Jesus doesn’t want my money. He doesn’t care how much money you have or don’t have. He doesn’t wag a finger. He runs to the broken, saves the lonely and mends the broken-hearted. He just wants me. And he isn’t leaving me, no matter how much I shake my fist, revert back to old ways, or how dirty I feel on the inside.
This Sunday evening, I had a dollar in my pocket. I could have run out to the car to get more money but just put that one dollar I had in the donations basket because I was caught off guard and zoned out. (I’m sure Jesus was just happy I spent an hour in prayer and worship– again, emphasizing that how much money I donated doesn’t matter, just how open my heart was to hearing the Word.)
I looked to my left. I saw a family, barely speaking English who I watched pull into the lot in a very run down car a couple minutes prior to mass, huddled next to each other and I could just tell that they were struggling financially. It’s really none of my business, but I admired what happened next. A daughter, barely five nodded at her Mom and dropped a 20 dollar bill into the basket.
And I felt like crap for looking and I felt like crap for making this comparison between me and this family in the first place. I could also be completely wrong. Maybe this family was doing just fine and I was making false judgements.
These people, who had next to nothing gave a twenty-dollar bill as their gift to someone else, towards their faith. That I usually use on material things or temporary things, and I, working full time and clearly wasn’t seeing the whole big picture here, donated a dollar.
I wanted that kind of grace. I want that type of eagerness to devote myself to a church and be selfless with what I earn. After all, it’s all temporary, these materials and idols that I constantly put before God.
I asked myself the same question I had when I was picking at my finger nails all those years at mass, looking at the priest with doubt and distain. “Why do I have to donate MY money. God is Greedy.”
The thing is– it has nothing to do with me. I truly believe that those donations go towards someone else’s relationship with the Lord. I look at it this way because this is what I believe to be true. I put forth a donation at church because I want someone else to be saved the way my heart as been because of Jesus. I want others who are struggling to know that kind of grace, truth, and relentless love.
I do this thing when I’m feeling distressed or just plain off. It’s one of the simplest, yet satisfying things. I walk outside to feel the autumn chill in the air when I sit on my porch. I listen to the birds. I remember this world, this life is so much bigger than just me. I have always admired the way that trees are able to let go of their leaves, become bare, and then blossom all over again. I have seen treachery, been the conductor of hurt towards another person, had my fair share of hypocrital behavior and dealt with lies. I’ve been parasitic, sadistic, naïve, and pessimistic all at the same time. Through all this, He has been my one truth, my rock, my redeemer. I can feel a new heart; a new purpose being created in me.
That is why I donate. My faith in God is bigger than any general sitgma the world may have about me being Christian. I donate during church and give my money to church because I want it to go towards someone else’s coming to Jesus in this season of change in my life, literally and figuratively.
Peace, love and Mac n cheese bites.
Also, in case you were wondering…totally own a “Jesus is my Homeboy” shirt.