Last week was ridiculously busy so there was no blog for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This week is starting a little quieter, so here's what happened church-wise on the 17th Sunday.
We went to yet another church here in England. The congregation was rather small, about 40 of us. We were surprised to see seven or eight altar servers. The priest is big on encouraging children to participate. He even made a pitch to recruit some new kids. He did not ask about Jacob, who probably is not old enough yet. The server who held the Lectionary was awfully short. The priest must have good eyesight to read from a book down so low. Jacob is tall enough for that though I couldn't guarantee he'd be still enough.
Jacob asked about the potty just as Mass was starting. I asked if he could wait till the end and to my surprise he said yes. He also sat pretty quietly throughout the service, flipping through a missal and occasionally watching and asking questions. He put money in the collection and said the Our Father with us. He made me very happy.
Lucy wandered a bit and did some singing and coloring. Eventually she became too noisy for Mommy and they went to the vestibule. After communion, Father invited all the children up to the front of the altar and gave them a blessing and holy cards. I wasn't sure if that was a regular occurrence or not. Jacob wanted to go. I told him to go up, get the card, and come back. He was a little confused, as if he could only keep one instruction in his head at a time. The last instruction was to come back and he did before going up. I finally told him just to go up, figuring that he'd come back on his own. Lucy followed him. They were both the last to receive cards. Lucy waved hers around as she came back. A little indecorous, I'll admit. But it seemed okay with the regular congregation.
At the end of Mass, the priest asked for any visitors or new people to stand up. I'm never really comfortable when this happens. I think not everyone likes to be singled out as a new comer or outsider, much less to speak in front of a strange congregation. I'm less comfortable when I'm on the chopping block, I mean, a new comer myself. Obediently I got up and introduced myself and my family. The priest chatted briefly, promised that we'd get a newcomer's pack, and invited us to coffee and cake at the after Mass social.
One of the choir members had a birthday (we sang Happy Birthday at the end of Mass for her, which probably isn't liturgically appropriate and easily could have waited till the social) and the social was a little birthday party for her. We got to sit with her and chat a bit. She turned 18, just finished high school, and is taking a year off before college since her family will be moving back to America next year. The social was fun enough. We are still debating about where we will register. This church happened to be local to our temporary lodgings, but we are moving out soon. Like tomorrow! We may still come back from time to time. There's lots of social activities and Americans.
The sermon was simple and moving. Father discussed the wisdom of Solomon in asking for the ability to rule his people well (which was the first reading). He talked about knowing what is important in your life and not only focusing on that but also asking God to help you with it. The point naturally led into the gospel, where Jesus tells the parable of the man who discovers a treasure, reburies it, goes to sell all that he has, and buys the field to have the treasure. The parable immediately after that is about a merchant discovering a priceless pearl. He likewise sells all that he has so that he can acquire the pearl. In our lives, we need to find that pearl. For some it may be their spouse or their children or a special vocation. Ultimately, the pearl without price is faith. The best way to achieve that is simple. Put it in God's hands and He will help you to find the way and follow the way. May we all accept the grace to trust in Providence.