Rambling on Practical Christianity

[author’s note: from our time of deployment in Iraq.]

August 8, 2010

Here in Iraq we try to make everything as “homey” as possible. That’s why there is a Burger King, Pizza Hut and Subway within two blocks of our chapel location. We even try to make the chapel and especially the Eucharist, the Mass, a celebration we would experience in our home parishes in the States. A big part of this is our chapel choir. These individuals get up week after week, practice their music and provide beauty to our Eucharistic celebrations. Since we have a large turnover of Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and contractors we generally don’t have the same people in the choir week after week. Now with the drawdown of troops in Iraq, the pickings for singers and musicians are getting mighty thin.

Last week I noticed one of our more colorful colonels (in other words, a big wig) singing in the choir. Knowing him to be a gruff, no nonsense type of guy I found it hard to believe that he was carrying a tune. Don’t misunderstand me, he is a faithful Catholic who never misses Mass and listens attentively to “whatever Father wants.” (Note to self, ship him and more like him into St. Mary’s Cathedral.) Still I was surprised at finding him in that particular ministry. After that first Mass I remarked to him, “I didn’t know your could sing.” His reply was, “I was the vice president of the Glee Club at West Point.” So I asked why he started singing in the choir at that particular time. His response was a lesson in practical Christianity.

“The choir was practicing a song that’s a favorite of mine, but kept getting it wrong. I kept going up to them and pointing out where they were messing up. After approaching them three or four times I dawned on me to quit sitting in the pew and complaining and start to do something about it. So I joined them then and there. You don’t get anywhere by complaining, you get results by doing.” Who knew? I was so used to complaining about things, it never entered into my mind that I should be doing something about it! After this explanation I was very careful about my grievances; sitting and complaining gets nothing done. When Jesus comes again, and He will, how will He find you? Complaining? Or doing something to improve your Church, your society and your family?

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