Love and Baloney
Imagine a young man and a young woman. They have very little money, but he goes out into the fields and collects some flowers. He makes them baloney sandwiches and puts them in a paper bag. He spreads out the picnic on newspaper, and says to her, “I love you more than the sun, the moon, the stars, brook trout and the Green Bay Packers. Will you be with me for the rest of our lives?” She melts.
Now, it is their fiftieth anniversary. Even though they live in an upscale condo in the center of a large city, he drives to the country and picks wild flowers. He makes baloney sandwiches, and puts them in a paper bag. He spreads newspaper on the table, and says to her, “I love you more than the sun, the moon, the stars, brook trout and the Green Bay Packers. Will you be with me for the rest of our lives?” She melts.
Someone who didn’t know the history might say to him, “Are you crazy? Your fiftieth anniversary, you could easily afford roses and catering, and you do this?” It is the connection to the history of the relationship that gives it meaning that it would not otherwyse have. In relationships, rituals, signs and symbols can have a power beyond what they are because of what they mean. (I suspect he also took her out to a nice restaurant, but that is another story.)
In religion, there are a lot of signs, symbols and rituals. Many who don’t know their meaning will disparage them and say they have nothing to do with God. Many times they are practiced by those who don’t know or don’t care about their meaning, and then they fail in their purpose, and can even do harm (see I Corinthians 11).
There are many who say that a personal relationship with God is something separate from religion, and that they love God but have no use for religion. I suggest that they either do not understand how ritual, structure, sign and symbol can be a key part of a relationship, have never been taught the meaning of these activities, or experienced people who went through the motions without attending to what they meant. A kiss is meant to be a sign of affection and caring. If someone gives you a kiss and then treats you like garbage, that sign is worse than useless. It even does harm.
Many have left the Catholic Church or are minimally connected because they have not experienced it as a powerful encounter with the love of God. However, if they could only understand that every aspect of the Catholic faith is about encountering, walking with, and loving God.
A next step is with the book A Biblical Walk through the Mass by Dr. Edward Sri, or even his video study program:
And that’s no baloney.