Aloha nui loa!
Over 30 years ago, the US Navy saw fit to move my family and me to Hawaii. You’re right, it was no hardship tour. My work was fulfilling, my family grew from four to five – our youngest is a Kamaʻāina – a child of the land (Hawaii). More importantly, that tour in Hawaii offered us the opportunity to grow in our spiritual lives in ways that were just not open to us while stationed in Japan.
Last week, I was “forced” to travel to Hawaii on business. While there, I had the opportunity to visit with one of our dear friends. It was a beautiful reunion, but it also was a poignant reminder of how we are aging. So many of our old friends are now with the Lord. I say they are with the Lord because I knew they were good people and they always were close to Him while they were alive.
I also had the opportunity to attend daily Mass at our old parish. Of course, many incidentals had changed. There were different pictures, banners, and decorations. In fact, there were far more pictures of saints than before. If anything, the overly modern theater-in-the-round layout of the church had been modified to be be more altar and tabernacle-centered. The pews had been replaced with a more traditional style.
In comparison to the Diocese of Arlington, Hawaii is far more “liberal.” Many liberties are taken with the liturgy. My wife and I know that to be a fact because we used to be on the Liturgy Committee for our parish there. Additionally, because of the dove-tailing of the Aloha spirit and the somewhat overly exuberant Cursillo-type touchy-feely expression of Christian joy, one could expect a Sign of Peace that might go on for five to ten minutes.
Thus, it was no surprise at Mass last week when I heard the pastor invite all in the Church to come up to the first step of the altar and stand there until after the distribution of Communion. I also was not surprised when he asked all to raise their hands during the Our Father. No, I didn’t go up to the altar, and no, I didn’t raise my hands. Interestingly, Father and the rest of the Mass attendees did not seem to mind. Father had introduced me earlier to all present and they knew I was from a different place. They still greeted me warmly after Mass.
I know Hawaii and I love Hawaii. I am thankful to God that my family and I have Hawaii as part of our Catholic background. Even if I don’t agree with what they do at Mass sometimes, I understand it. There is no doubt that they love Jesus Christ and the Church He established. I also know something else. I know that not a word, not a single word, of the Novus Ordo liturgy was changed during the Mass. I also know that the homily spoke to my spiritual life and and the salvation of souls that Jesus brought into this world. I know that Father asked me to love my neighbor – there was no beating of the social justicism drum.
In our Roman Catholic Church in America there are herds of dead horses that could be beaten. Yet, I have neither the energy nor the time to beat them all. Despite the departure from the norms of posture during that daily Mass in Hawaii, there were no departures from true Catholic doctrine. There were no deviations from the words that are given to the priest to pray on behalf of the Church and the Sheep. So, I will save the strength of my soul and my prayers to to beat the one dead horse that God has given me. My prayer while beating is that the dead horse will be renewed in spiritual life and grace and return to the work that it was originally called.