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The Love of God Is Like…

…balloons and toilet paper?

Speaking of liturgical hijinks (see the previous New Oxford Note), in the past year your Deputy Editor and his family had the distinct displeasure of attending consecutive farewell Masses for two priests at a large, wealthy, standing-room-only suburban parish in the Oakland Diocese.

We say displeasure because, as anyone who has attended a farewell (or birthday or jubilee) Mass can attest, such occasions invariably end up as the liturgical equivalent of a celebrity roast, replete with speeches from various parishioners, jokes, gifts, and endless applause.

These two Masses were no different in that regard. What set them apart is that the two outgoing priests decided to give the parishioners a going-away gift of sorts, in the form of a graphic representation of God’s love.

First came the outgoing pastor’s farewell Mass (he was being reassigned, promoted actually, within the Oakland Diocese). During his homily, he handed out balloons to some of the parishioners seated in the front pews, and instructed them to inflate the balloons. This prompted nervous laughter in the front, and rustling and craning of necks in the back. He then told us to imagine that the balloons were the love of God and that we were to pass along the love of God to our neighbors. God’s inflatable love was to go from neighbor to neighbor without hitting the ground.

This “exercise” was meant to teach us that we are each responsible for the sharing of God’s love.

Pandemonium ensued.

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