First of all I would like to thank all those who attended the meetings last week concerning our financial situation and the abuse crisis in the Church. These things are not easy nor the most fun topics of discussion, but thankfully we are openly discussing them and no longer letting them remain a giant menacing leering elephant in the room. A couple days ago we also had a Parish Council meeting in which the most prominent order of business was again our finances, I have partially been tasked and partially volunteered to write up an appeal to see if we can fix this. Here is the situation, our general operating budget for this past fiscal year is at a $12,000 deficit, this coming Sunday, June 30th, is the last Sunday in which our income will go towards that deficit.
Due to the circumstances it has been decided and agreed upon that our budget for the next coming fiscal year must be significantly decreased. However we do have one more Sunday and as always as Catholics we cling tightly to one of the greatest of virtues, hope, and so it is that I am now writing this appeal. Begging for money is absolutely not what I want to spend my day doing but I actually do have a few things to write upon the matter and this may end up long but if you have a moment to sit down and consider these thoughts, it is greatly appreciated.
First, I want to congratulate everyone for being so blessed to live a life in which you either live in or frequently visit one of the most incredible, majestic, peaceful, prosperous and safe corners of the world. God has been really good to us here in Crested Butte. Our rivers are pumping without flooding, our fields are a vibrant luxuriant green, our mountains are white with plenty of moisture to keep the rivers high and fill our reservoirs, our hills are fixing to explode into magical prolonged fireworks of flowers. Truly our cup overfloweth, so to speak, so much so in fact that it’s one of the only things from which we seem to be able to find reasons to complain. Prosperity is abundant here and as of right now only continues to rise. We live in such an incredible time and place that I dare to say that the quality of our lifestyles exponentially far surpasses those of the Pharaohs, Kings and Emperors of ages past. We live in such opulence that it is sometimes easy to loose perspective and forget how good we really have it.
We must remember and remind ourselves to count our blessings, and give proper thanks to whom it really is that showers them down upon us. Our culture, our technology, our advancements, our current elevated status of morality and cooperation are absolutely built upon the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ and his doctrine, which has carried us through the ages and placed us here now where we stand in Western Civilization.
Look at the hills around us, they are speckled with incredible homes and wonderful people. If we can build and maintain what we currently have surely we can afford to render thanks and give back to him to whom it is rightfully due. Jesus lives here with us in Crested Butte, his address is at 401 Sopris. Surely we are capable of pooling some resources and keeping Him too warm in the winter, and a dry roof over His head.
But lets be frank, in reality He who knits the flowers of the field, sculpts the mountains to His preferred form, marshals the starry heavens above us, keeps the galaxies and the planets within their course, He who produces and sustains all matter itself, He has absolutely no need of the paper in your wallet or the digits in you bank account. We would be totally kidding ourselves if we were to think that such was the case. But I’ll tell you what he does need and desire to possess of us, our trust, our faith, our loyalty, our love. All these things He is rightfully due, and is thankfully undemanding, only asking us freely of these things, and also thankfully He is very patient.
A great way we can show Him that we truly do trust Him and wish to remain loyal is by sacrificing a small portion of our wealth in acknowledgment that at the end of the day it is not US Federal Reserve notes which keep us happy and healthy but the bounteous abundance of blessings and graces which our Father in heaven continuously bestows upon us.
Why was it common in ancient times to slaughter the finest of their livestock and burn them upon the altar? Because that is a very real way to say to the Lord, thank you, everything that we have and all that we are, are by your hand, and we wish to return a small portion back to you in acknowledgment of that fact. Again thankfully the Lord has made this process much easier for us in our times, instead of dispatching and burning the best of our livestock, we simply drop a few pieces of paper in a basket and go about our merry way.
Now I’d like to shift gears a little bit and dig a bit deeper into the problem we find ourselves with and the cause thereof. The bigger picture in the Universal Church I think we can all admit and acknowledge is a bit of a mess, in fact, let’s be real, it’s a big mess. Undoubtedly this is a substantial part of the reason that our offerings are continuously falling. Understandably the good people of Crested Butte are very hesitant and reluctant to offer financial support to criminals of the worst varieties. I too would rather not have any part in all that, but the fact of the matter is that the money you put in the basket on Sundays goes only to support our parish, our little piece of the Church. It is not shipped off to the Vatican and used to pay large financial settlements, it is put in a local bank account and used to pay our church’s heating bill, to keep the lights on, to stock the bathroom with toilet paper, and in full disclosure it also goes to pay myself, as the only employee dedicated alone to our parish, it goes to keeping food on my own table.
But don’t worry about me, because I’m not worried about myself in the very least. I know without doubt that I can make a living here in CB, whether employed by the Church or not, I’ll be just fine. So that’s besides the point.
My point is that when we stop attending mass on Sundays and visiting Jesus, when we decide to financially protest and put less numbers in the basket or none at all, we are fulfilling precisely the design of the powers of darkness which currently seem to be encamped surrounding our Church’s headquarters in full battle array. And when we take these actions we are only hurting ourselves, in a variety of ways but by far and away the most important way we hurt ourselves is spiritually, by abandoning Jesus, leaving the foot of the cross, turning around, and walking away.
Yes, what is going on at the higher levels of our church’s leadership is absolutely scandalous. It is shocking and atrocious, but so too it was when the chosen people of God were jeering and mocking the only begotten Son of God who had been beaten, stripped and nailed to a tree… by their own request. That too was shocking, very shocking, so much so that 90% of His closest and chosen followers had fled. I would like to think that in that seemingly most hopeless of situations I would have been like St. John and stood firm at the foot of the cross and stayed with Jesus to the very bitter end. But even more so, I would like to think that I would be capable of imitating the behavior of the women who stood at St. John’s side. The women who had just watched her most perfect of all sons, the most innocent man to ever walk the earth, be scourged, beaten, crowned with thorns, mocked, spit upon, nailed to a cross and is now slowly dieing before her eyes. If anyone ever had anything at all to legitimately complain about before the throne of God, it was that women, at that time. And yet she did not throw up her fists and demand answers, she did not complain, because she was possessed of such wisdom and virtue that she understood that what she was now witnessing was the will of God. That God himself desired to lay down His own life so that we might truly live, so inexhaustible is His love, and His mother accepted that mystery and fact without protest.
If you can’t find it within yourself to pour out a small portion of your coffers on my own behalf, I’m completely fine with that and I understand. If you aren’t willing to do so to help support the man who gave up his family, culture and home to minister to us the sacraments and maintain Jesus in our Tabernacle then I begin to become perplexed. If you don’t want to throw in some change to help Jesus stay warm during our cold nights then I’m starting to become really confused. But if you don’t feel like giving a few funds to help out that women who stood before the cross, the great one, our Lady and Our Mother, the officially coronated Queen of Heaven and Earth, the women whom we affectionately call the great Queen of All Saints, then I must admit I stand completely befuddled.
I for one, will definitely be putting substantially more paper in the basket this Sunday, and I will be doing so as my own tiny little means of saying to the Queen of All Saints, thank you.
We are in a storm right now, but when the storm is at its worst the sailors must be at their finest. Even here in Crested Butte the gates of hell would love to gain entry into our own little home of Jesus Christ. It is at times like these that we must stand firm and lock arms, refusing to abandon our Lord and Savior and having full trust and faith in his promise that the gates of hell shall never prevail, however cunning, wily, and persistent their form of attack may be.
When Our Lady and St. John stood before the cross, absolutely everything seemed to be at a certain loss. Their cause, on the face of it, seemed to be completely over. But God’s designs are so much bigger than our own designs, and what they were witnessing was not the tragic failure and end it seemed to be, but the gigantic exclamation mark to finalize the greatest most wonderful life of influence and miracles the world has ever known. What they were watching was Jesus facing his greatest and final battle on our behalf, preparing to crush the last enemy, death itself, and it was not the end, but in fact, it was the beginning.
Sorry if I dug a little too deep there, but I hope I did a little something to help you dig a little deeper in those pockets. I sincerely thank you for having read this far and I hope that you will join me and are willing to do battle in defense of our Church and the people who keep it alive and fulfilling its purpose.