Fr. Robert Bengry: Thinking about friendship.





It’s been very nice to see folks stream in to St. John the Evangelist, Calgary these past few weeks since the public Mass has resumed. I think many priests were worried that some of their flock would have grown lukewarm towards regular Mass attendance — it’s easier to stay home and watch Mass on the iPad the thinking goes. I’m not sure how it is in other places, but what I’ve seen is an hunger for the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ as He comes to us in the sacred meal we weren’t able to share as we did before and do now. This hunger seems to be expressing itself as an hunger for the Lord in community too, which is a beautiful thing to see.
    People know what they see on the internet and read in the paper, or see on television isn’t real life. So much is lost with a video conference or a streamed Mass. So much information missing when it’s been filtered and filtered and mediated. People crave an authentic experience where they know and are known. This is an advantage of the smaller parish.
    Some think bigger is better: sure, sometimes it is. But not if you want to be known. Bigger is better if you’re a consumer: so many choices. But not if you want to be known. Small groups are always needed for that. Fortunately many of the larger Churches do a good job of the smaller group work.
    The Catholic Church in its genuine diversity is a real joy and marvel. Some think of the Church as though it’s some monolithic thing. It’s not: it is truly universal. So many cultures and people, so many traditions and histories. What amazes me is how well Churches forge unlikely friendships. 
    Life is hard, and it seems to be more difficult lately as so many lose their livelihoods and find themselves in uncertainty. If we Catholics don’t need each other now, we surely will in a short time. The violence and uncertainty all around; the increased polarisation... the hatred and bigotry, the negativity and sorrow swirling around has only one antidote: Christ and His Church. Make friends with other Catholics, maybe even the Catholics you don’t agree with. Try to see their side of things: we need each other more now than ever it seems. There are enemies all around: if we are going to survive the chaos we see around us, the key won’t be found in more and more chaos, but rather in harmony. Build each other up. Band together because tough times are here for so many... and it could get worse even yet. Who knows.
      Jesus said we should love each other. Let’s do that by turning again and again to God, and to one another as fellow Christians. Seek to forgive one another and turn to one another in friendship in these present difficulties. Spend time, when you can, with people that treat you well, who know and love you. Find some time for the simpler things: a walk in the garden, a seat on the grass, a good book and an happy conversation. There’s someone out there who needs you. Seek them out, make a friend and make a difference. — Fr. Robert Bengry, St. John the Evangelist, Calgary




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The photograph: From the Robert Bengry collection. Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved.