David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Mass, Meditation, Money

Mass

• The Chrism Mass was once held in the small town of Uvalde, Texas, because its location made it fairly easy for other priests to travel to it. The church’s priest, Msgr. Vincent Fecher, wanted to have a good turnout, so he talked it up from the pulpit and filled the church with the children’s choir. The Mass was a grand success, and to Father Vincent’s surprise the Chasm Mass was held at Uvalde again the following year. This time, the children were on vacation, so there was no captive audience, but Father Vincent once again talked up the event from the pulpit, and once again the church was filled. Father Vincent’s superior attended the Mass, and he remarked on how full the church was. Father Vincent replied, “Oh, it’s always like that.” He also says that when he made that remark, “My Guardian Angel gasped indignantly, but I had a feeling that the Lord only smiled.” (By the way, the Chrism Mass was held a third year in a row in Uvalde, and the church was filled yet again.)

• Composer Gioacchino Rossini had a sense of humor. In 1863, he wrote his “Petite Messe Solennelle (Little Solemn Mass)” for “12 singers of three sexes.” The Mass is not little, and it is not solemn. His wife, Olympe Pelissier, also had a sense of humor. After Hector Berlioz disrespected one of her husband’s operas, she sent Mr. Berlioz a pair of donkey ears.

Meditation

• William Baker Evans, a Quaker, used to set aside time early each morning for meditation and prayer. Unfortunately, for many people, such a regimen can lead to smugness. Fortunately, Mr. Evans was aware of this tendency. He once said, “The trouble with getting up early was that it made me smug all morning and sleepy all afternoon.”

• Why practice meditation? When Munindra was asked that, his students listened closely to his answer, hoping to hear something profound. Munindra answered, “I practice meditation to notice the small purple flowers growing by the roadside, which I otherwise might miss.”

Money

• In Kahilischock lived a Jew named Zalmon Schlim, who became ill while traveling in a distant city. Knowing that he was dying, he wanted to give 10,000 rubles to another Jew from Kahilischock, Feivel Harzbrecher, to take home and give to his wife. However, Feivel was unwilling to take the money to Kahilischock, even for a commission. Desperate to get at least some money to his wife, Zalmon finally told him, “Since I am dying, take the 10,000 rubles and give my wife as much of it as you want.” Feivel then accepted the money, and after Zalmon had died, traveled to Kahilischock, found Zalmon’s wife, and told her, “Your husband gave me 10,000 rubles, with the understanding that I should give you as much of it as I want — here I give you 1,000 rubles.” Of course, the widow did not think that 1,000 rubles was a fair amount, so she appealed for help to Rabbi Mendele Chacham. The rabbi heard the case, then ordered Feivel to give the widow 9,000 rubles, explaining, “You were instructed to give to Zalmon’s wife ‘as much of the 10,000 rubles as you want’ — and how much do you want? You want 9,000 rubles, so this is the amount you will have to give to her.”

• Rabbi Eizik, son of Rabbi Yekel of Cracow, Poland, had a dream telling him to undertake a long journey to Prague, then dig up a treasure, which was buried under a bridge leading to the king’s palace. After he had this dream for the third time, Eizik, son of Yekel, went to Prague and located the bridge. However, the bridge was heavily guarded and he was afraid to dig under it, so he looked at the bridge day after day. The captain of the guard noticed him and asked what he wanted, so he told him. The captain then laughed at him, saying that the dream was ridiculous, and that he had had a similar dream — his dream had told him to go to Cracow and dig up a treasure buried under the stove of Eizik, son of Yekel. Eizik went back home to Cracow, dug up the treasure under his stove, then used it to build a House of Prayer.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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