Indianapolis, September 20, 2014. A day that changed my life. My oldest son was supposed to accompany me, but car problems prevented him, and so I went alone, not knowing what to expect. When you go to a Catholic men’s conference that isn’t sponsored by an organization not necessarily concerned about what I would call “solid liturgy,” you get what you get. And what I got was the usual twangy guitar with the too-loud monitor, the liturgical drummer, and whatever other instruments can fit in the space. In this case a piano, another guitar, and an electric bass. Sort of Catholic Styx lite. And even at that, I just rolled with it. They chose some good solid hymns, and I sang along.
I’m not sure why the powers that be, the people who set these things up, think that we even want guitars and drums. Seriously, the only people who want them are the people who play in “the worship band.” I hope one or two of them will eventually discover that most of us would prefer anything else than the stuff we are bombarded with every day outside of sacred spaces. Catholic liturgical music is supposed to, at the least, not interfere with the look and feel and smell of the genius of the Latin Rite.
Guitars and drums not only interfere with it, it thumbs its nose and sticks out its tongue.
But I digress. I had to get the rant out of the way before going on to higher and finer things. This conference slayed me, metaphorically speaking. It was awesome. It was epic that Archbishop Joe Tobin joined us and said Mass for us before lunch, but Fr. Mike Gaitley had both barrels pointed right at me. I could exceed the bounds of grammatical brevity, but you’d leave. Instead I’ll leave you with a few bullet points that sunk into my heart, hopefully in good soil:
* I’m a filthy habitual sinner with little or no redeeming qualities, but quite the opposite of what I imagined, that is exactly what attracts me so much to Christ. The pity he takes on me is unfathomable and His desire for me is unquenchable, not because I’m Mr. Straight and Narrow. Those guys are safe and in the fold. He left the 99 and scoured the hills looking for me.
* In times of great evil, God’s graces abound all the more. We are living in the age of mercy when it is so easy to become a Saint. The way straight to Jesus’ heart is through consecrating ourselves completely and totally to Mary.
* Mercy for sinners is the heart of the Gospel.
* Love never turns in on itself, it always gives itself away.
* Our mission is twofold: To breathe in, and to breathe out. Breathing in is going regularly ourselves to the “cellar of wine” with the Lord in prayer, in the Mass, and through the Sacraments. Breathing out is setting the world on fire with His Love.
I am so glad that I went to this conference, so thankful to our Lord for putting it in my heart to go. So grateful for those who obviously prayed that the inspiration would hit and I’d sign up and go. Your prayers worked.