Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It’s been two long years without it, but I’m so happy to say: THE CARNIVAL IS BACK!!! Many of us have gone to the St. Charles Carnival since we were kids, myself included. It’s a hallmark of the parish and a harbinger of summer. It’s an important event for the entire community.
But while all of that is true, there’s something greater at work within the Carnival. Oh sure, I enjoy my panzerotti, my funnel cakes, the rides and games; all the trappings of Carnival. And as a pastor, it’s hard to argue with all the money and support that come in and help sustain us for the rest of the year. That’s all well and good, but what makes the Carnival so special is seeing how the community comes together to make sure it succeeds.
A few weeks back, Brian Fitzpatrick spoke at the end of the Masses about opportunities to help with the Carnival. I ended up hearing his talk four times. And so, this one point really struck home as he mentioned it each time. To paraphrase Brian, the Carnival doesn’t work without the people. How true that is.
I know that not every pastor is a huge fan of Carnivals, both historically here at St. Charles, and more widely throughout the Diocese. Call me crazy, but I truly think they’re wonderful. I admit, it’s a ton of work and many of us don’t get much sleep that entire week, but it’s so worth it. It’s worth it because it helps bring people together and puts them in service of others.
Our Blessed Lord famously said to His disciples, “I came to serve, not to be served.” In our largely consumer driven culture, this idea is quite foreign. We often act as if we are owed something, that people ought to be doing something for us just because we’d like them to. “I pay good money, therefore I deserve…” Not exactly the Christian ideal with that line of thinking.
The Carnival is a consumer driven event. If people don’t spend their money, there’s not much point to the Carnival. But at a deeper level, the Carnival is a service driven event. Does it feel like we’re following in the footsteps of Christ when we’re working in ABC blocks, or cutting watermelon, or selling 50/50 tickets? Perhaps not in the moment, but those acts of service, done for the greater goal of supporting the parish and helping the community with a fun event, are very much in keeping with the model that Christ sets for us.
The Carnival is an enriching experience for our parish, both at a community and at an individual level. Thanks for all your work and help with it. I look forward to seeing you out there. And if you’re still thinking about helping out, we’d be grateful to have you.
Peace and Goodness,