August 26, 2009 // Local

Summer joy and melancholy

By Tim Johnson

August, for me, has its bursts of joy and moments of melancholy.

Joyous events, of course, are my birthday and wedding anniversary — celebrated the same date. And this year, another joy was a last-minute vacation-break to southern Indiana for a few days.

With my mother-in-law, Sally, we traveled in the trusty minivan to Jasper where my wife’s Aunt Joan lives. It was a great weekend to be in Jasper. It was Strassenfest — a festival that celebrates the German heritage of the area. Our vacation included a German heritage Mass at St. Joseph Church, where we sang a prelude of Polka Mass music and German hymns, and then was delighted to recall at least a few lines of the Our Father in German.

Strassenfest included a parade, where more Tootsie Rolls were doled out to my excited 6 year old than at any parade I had ever seen. Of course, Jasper is a very Catholic community and the Knights of Columbus were well represented with Tootsie Rolls.

And Monday at Holiday World in Santa Claus was delightful. With the No. 2 rated water park in the nation — a taste of heaven must be tubing on the lazy river. We welcomed the family-friendly atmosphere and cleanliness of the park. In the Christmas-themed area of the park, we also appreciated the Nativity scene and the Christmas music — including religious themed songs.

Now, back to reality. The drive home in the pounding rain reminded us life has its difficulties. Last week, my daughter started first grade. Already, homework dominates our evening. And Rose began school this week.

I enjoy the summer months with its fresh vegetables and gardening activities, fun times with family and friends and hanging out in the pool. But the abrupt end tends to bring me down a little bit.

One constant in our lives is our faith: Jesus in the Eucharist. Whether a German Mass at St. Joseph, Jasper, a weekend Mass at St. Aloysius, or now an all-school Mass on Friday mornings, Jesus longs for us to come to him. He takes us with our sorrows, our joys and becomes a part of us.

It saddens me when I hear about someone leaving the church because they were hurt by some person. The church is made up of imperfect humans like me. But there is also a divine side to the Catholic Church — Jesus in the Eucharist and all of the sacraments that bestow God’s grace on us. For that, no human side of the church could ever draw me from my Lord. I need him as I trudge through the ups and downs of the summer and all year through. And I thank all of our priests for bringing Jesus to us in the holy Eucharist.

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