The parking lot is perhaps the most dangerous place on St Dominic’s property. Especially on Sunday mornings. Cars trying to battle for a spot, children running towards their sugar high at Coffee Minute, the Novices greeting everyone, me trying to do triple-twisting backflips by the grotto…it’s all very risky.
Two weeks ago, my cousin, Julio the Donkey, had made this dramatic debut at the 9:30 Palm Sunday Mass (really, the family resemblance is striking). The energy of the 9:30 Mass is almost addictive. The children running around, everyone gathered around the Author of Life to contemplate the Great Deed of the Passion of the Word Made Flesh.
However, I remember coming out of my office to greet the people of God. I stood outside the entrance of the Lady Chapel, watching the Church in transition between the 9:30 and 11:30. Julio and his friends, rabbits, chickens, goats, and the pot-bellied pig, wandering around their pen. The children so excited seeing live animals—wanting to pet them, seeing the rabbits bounce and the chickens dance….seeing the pig…well, be a pig.
Just then, an Oldsmobile crept along from the priory side of the lot, trying to pass through. Seeing the children run out of Lady Chapel, let go of their mothers’ hands, rushing towards the animals.
The paranoid side of me imagined the worst. I took out my phone just in case. And admittedly, was thanking God that, this time, I wasn’t the one with the Torch.
Yet I did see a little boy dressed in khakis and a green and white pinstipped shirt run towards the petting zoo. The mother yelling. The Oldsmobile creaking by.
And nothing happened. This ain’t no modern-day Shakespearean drama here. The boy—precocious and foolish—ran to the other side just fine.
The crazy thing about the incident is at least threefold. One, the little boy hadn’t looked both ways, despite the running car; two, the petting zoo was there till noon—waiting was perfectly fine; three, Coffee Minute is there every Sunday.
Many a grown-up will chastise children for doing the foolish thing to get what their impulses demand—sugar from Coffee Minute, the opportunity to pet a real live donkey, whatever. Yet when was the last time when we grown-ups fall for our own version of a petting zoo? When was the last time we didn’t look both ways when we crossed the street, and monitor the spiritual dangers that are around us?
Temptations for succulent food, the one night stand, the latest tech, the bling and blinking, is all around us. Grown-up sugar is sometimes sugar, but it is also everything that will distract us from the great. We aren’t meant to be good, afterall—we are meant to be saints. Jesus didn’t die and rise from the dead so that he can teach us to be nice to each other. We have Aristotle for that. No—Jesus died and rose in order to teach us to be legendary. To be saints. Thus, it is easy for us to be distracted from the saintly because we are settling for the good.
It is easy to chastise this little boy for running in front of a creaking Oldsmobile on his way to the petting zoo. Yet at the same time, we run in front of spiritual dangers all of the time.
It’s easier to watch another something on Netflix. It’s easier to fall into gossip. It’s easier to complain about our family. It’s easier to no give of our treasure towards those in need.
We are in the midst of Easter. We are contemplating the Great Victory of our God. Moreover, we spend these 50 days contemplating Jesus’ challenge to us to be great and mighty by His own grace. Let us be legendary.
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!