Column: May I ask you a question?

by Father Mark Goldasich

Did you know that Christmas will be celebrated “late” this year?

When I posed this question to the folks at Mass this past Monday morning, it sure did get their attention. On that day, March 31, we marked the solemnity of the Annunciation.

Normally, the Annunciation is on March 25 but, because that date fell during what is known as the octave (or eight days) of Easter, it got “bumped” this year to the first available “free day” on the church’s calendar, which happened to be last Monday.

So, what does this have to do with Christmas? Well, the Annunciation, when Mary conceived Jesus in her womb, is celebrated exactly nine months before Christmas. I figured if we weren’t celebrating the Annunciation until March 31, maybe that would delay Christmas until Dec. 31 as well.

OK, OK, I’m kidding about the late Christmas. It’s going to be on Dec. 25 as usual. But a number of parishioners came up after Mass on March 31 and said that they never really connected the Annunciation to being nine months before Christmas. It got them thinking.

And that, for me, is what some of this season of Easter is all about. It’s a time for questions. Questions can be powerful, as this little story about Isidore Robey shows.

Robey came to the United States as a small boy and grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side. In an interview once, he was asked how a poor immigrant boy was able to become one of the world’s foremost physicists.

He answered, “I couldn’t help it. It was because of my mother. She had a deep appreciation for the search for the truth. And every single day when I came home from school, she would ask me, ‘Did you ask any good questions today?’” (Adapted from Brian Cavanaugh’s “Sower’s Seeds of Encouragement.”)

Many times in life we fall into such a rut that we fail to appreciate the mysteries and wonders of our faith, our lives and our world in general. Questions can be a doorway into deeper knowledge.

Think there are no mysteries in life? Let this humorous e-mail of silly questions make you ponder a bit. Here are a few of my favorites:

• Can you cry under water?

• How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

• Why do you have to “put your two cents in,” but it’s only “a penny for your thoughts”? Where’s that extra penny going to?

• What disease did cured ham actually have?

• How is it we put a man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

• If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

• Why is it when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

• Why would someone name a town Peculiar?

If there are such questions about our physical world, imagine how deep and numerous are those about the spiritual world. Easter is a season to do some exploring and discovery; it’s a time to learn something new.

Regular readers of this column know that I’m the guru of gadgets and gewgaws. When Lent began, I ordered an item that arrived just in time for Easter. It’s called a Kindle; it’s an electronic reader produced by Amazon, the huge online retailer.

The Kindle is a bit larger and heavier than a standard paperback book, but can hold over 200 titles. With this device, I have immediate access to well over 100,000 titles. Most dangerous — financially — is that any one of these books can be purchased and downloaded wirelessly right to the Kindle in under a minute. It also has a built-in dictionary (so you could look up “gewgaws” in the paragraph above). An added bonus is that my housekeeper and my bookshelves will appreciate a reduction in the number of actual physical books that come into my house!

Celebrate this Easter season by exploring something new. Try a new hobby, a new book, a new computer program or feature, a new route home from school or work. Spiritually, do something fresh as well: Engage in a new method of prayer, explore a book of the Bible that you’re unfamiliar with, ask someone a question or two about the faith that has always puzzled you.

Being open to growing, to learning, to new discoveries, is an effect of resurrected life, which moves us to see things in new, deeper, and often surprising ways.

Perhaps there’s just one question left to be answered: With all that’s out there to be discovered, what are you waiting for?

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