31 December 2012

What is wrong with the world?

It is said that in reply to the editorial question of a British newspaper, "What's wrong with the world today?" G. K. Chesterton wrote in reply:
Dear Sir,
I am.
Yours, G.K. Chesterton
Whether he actually wrote such a response is not certain, that it is certainly in keeping with his humor and wit.  Regardless of its historical veracity, it is a point well made and too little considered.

From the vantage point of most sacristies, priests very often cannot see what is transpiring in the sanctuary.  Such is the case with the sacristy of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Before Mass this morning it seemed to be taking the server an unusually long amount of time to light the candles.  I stepped out of the sacristy - where no one else could see me - to see what became of him and saw him at work with two of the six candles lit.  Thinking nothing of it, I stepped back into the sacristy.

After another space of time and no sign of the return of the server, I again stepped out to check on his progress.  He was gone and four candles remained unlit.  What became of him at that moment I do not know.

I returned to the sacristy, grabbed a book of matches, walked through the sanctuary to the candles and proceeded to light the remaining four candles (which stand taller than the server and can be difficult to light).  As I lit the candles the server did not step back into the sanctuary and I didn't ask after Mass what became of him.

Now, as the server attempted - to the best of his ability - to light the candles, so far as I can tell, not one of the 75 to 100 people in the Cathedral who no doubt watched him struggle in vain to light the candles came forward to offer their assistance in lighting the candles that gave him so much trouble.

This, I submit, is what is wrong with the world.

It may seem a simple thing, but how much love and concern would have been shown the server had someone stepped up to help?  Love is found in the details of everyday life.

Today, as we close out a calendar year and begin a new one, I pose to you this question for your personal consideration and prayer: "Would I have helped the server?"

If your answer - if my answer - comes, in all honesty, in the negative, then, I assert, you - and I - are what is wrong with the world.

If our answer comes in the negative, let us this very day implore the Lord to so mold our hearts after his own that in this new year his love would be made known through our spontaneous, simple,  daily acts of concern, even if they be as humble as helping to light a candle.


  1. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Did anyone find out what became of the server? Was he sick, leave church w/o parents knowing, get taken? Did anyone call his parents to check on him?

  2. The server was fine and did serve Mass. With the hallway behind the sanctuary that leads to the sacristy, I simply could not see the server when he wasn't in the sanctuary or in the sacristy.