40 Reasons for Coming Home: Reason # 13

Reason # 13: The Warning.  Jesus says quite plainly in the Gospel of John, “Amen, Amen I say to you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and Drink his blood, you have no life in you.” So the warning is clear enough: if we don’t receive Holy Communion each Sunday, we are starving ourselves spiritually and are dying, if not already dead, spiritually. I once quoted this text to a woman who was away from the Church and she said, “Oh, I have life in me.” “Well,” I said, “I’m just telling you what Jesus said, and he says you don’t.” 🙂 I wasn’t gonna back down. Sometimes we just have to stick to what scripture says!

And really, we ought to just listen to Jesus here and not get into arguments based on our own subjective self-evaluation. Besides, no one is a fair judge in his own case!

So here is a powerful reason to “come home” to the Eucharist.  Without Jesus in Holy Communion, you starve. Come on home now; you gotta eat! Don’t block your blessings! An old Gospel song that we sometimes sing says, “Come over here, where the table is spread, and the feast of the Lord is goin’ on!” Enjoy this video of the old Gospel song in a Catholic Context.

Back to Basics!

The following comment and question came in from a reader and presents a very soul-searching insight.

I am a Catholic in my mid thirties, raising a family and faithfully attending Mass. But I must admit I have some concern that the Church is missing the mark in reaching out to people my age and younger. It seems that all the concerns of the Church are about internal things like translations and where tabernacles should be. Don’t get me wrong, as a faithful Catholic those things are important to me. But these discussions take all our time, and, meanwhile, the world around us gets more and more secular. Many young people I know are practical atheists; God and the Church aren’t even on their radar. Yet we continue to go on and on with our internal preoccupations. Any comments?

Yes, this is a very important insight. There is always the temptation for any organization with humans involved to become primarily inward-looking and to lose sight of its essential mission. Obviously our fundamental mission is to announce Jesus Christ, to go to all the nations and teach them what the Lord Jesus taught for our salvation. We are to bring people into living, conscious contact with Jesus Christ; to bring them into a transformative relationship with Him through Word, Sacrament, and witness. But too easily we can spend all our time consumed with internal procedures and policy, debates about furniture and buildings, etc.

As you point out, some attention has to be paid to internal issues; there can be some very important theological and faith-related issues in such details. But the danger is that this becomes all-consuming. Meanwhile we have lost the culture around us, and even more sadly, many indviduals.

What to do? I would answer that we as a Church should continue the very discussion you have begun. As we both seem to agree, the answer is not simply to disregard internal issues, but rather to continue to summon the Church to her fundamental mission. Your insight is powerful and is a profound call to awakening. If we do not listen to your wake-up call, we risk the proverbial fate of “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” Some will counter that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church, hence we could never be the Titanic. True, but no such promise is given to our western world, which increasingly has lost its way through secularism. Souls are being lost and error is spreading. We have to renew the good fight and take our message back out into the world as never before. That is one hope that underlies both this blog and the fundamental question asked by our Archbishop: Longing for something? Maybe it’s God!

Fr. Robert Barron struggles with the very problem you have raised in the following video—one of his best commentaries ever. He also has proposed some solutions.

A Report from the Frontline

As you know the Archdiocese of Washington is extending invitations to people who are part of our family of faith but have not been participating in our life of prayer and worship. Archbishop Wuerl has asked us to take his invitation and to give it to someone and invite the person to join us for Mass. This makes some of us quite nervous. It is not that we don’t want to do it. Many of us, in fact, pray regularly for family members or friends to find their way back to church. Often, our hesitation is wondering how the person we want to invite will respond. Today, I’d like to share two stories about “what happened next…” and ask you to share your stories.

 

Firstly, From Fr. Mike, a priest at St. Camillus parish. Fr. Mike is excited abut this initiative because a number of years ago, something similar changed his life. In his words:

Twenty years ago, I was just such a young man, who had drifted away from the church  for a number of years, until a friend invited me to come to Mass. Not realizing how much I missed the experience, I initially said “no.” This friend was persistent because he too had been away from the church for a while and knew it what a huge difference returning, reconnecting had made in his own life. Because of his persistent invitation and his sharing his experience I ultimately said “yes” and went to Mass with him. Absent that invitation 20 years ago, my life might have taken a very different course. To this day, I am incredibly grateful for the gift of this invitation. As we prepare to celebrate the greatest sacrifice, the mystery of Christi’s Passion and the gift of new life on Easter Sunday, let us reach out and bring God home to those who have drifted away from the Church.

Secondly, an eyewitness account from Maggie Gutiérrez, Coordinator of Evangelization and Hispanic Christian Initiation:

I have been explaining our Lenten initiative to my friends, my family, my coworkers and leaders on the parish evangelization team. Last week, I met with the planning team for the RCIA Retreat for Spanish speakers at which we are expecting 500 people. I was meeting the retreat planning team for dinner to go over some details. We went to a Mexican restaurant in Silver Spring and while we were driving I found myself again retelling the story of how Archbishop Wuerl sent hundreds of invitations to the parishes and that he is asking us to give them out to people who we want to invite back. After we ate our delicious dinner, and we were discussing the planning of the retreat, we noticed  that our young waiter kept coming back to the table and chit chatting in a friendly manner. 

At some point he asked if we were Catholic, which he probably figured out because Father Jose Arriaga was wearing his clerics and collar. So we talked to our waiter friend, Anastasio (Father told him it means resurrection in Greek)  and he told us that he always tries to go to Mass even when he has to work on Sunday, though that is not always easy. We told him that Saturday night Mass is also an option. He left us again to continue our meeting. I told Father:  “Hey Father, I have with me a few Spanish invitations, why don’t you give Anastasio one and ask him to give it to a friend?!” 

Father answered, “Anastasio could probably do that right here and now, just look around, all the waiters,  they are all young  adults.” So when Anastasio came  back, Father José, who is a Scripture scholar, a former university professor, very calmly, very clearly, very much the teacher, explains the   program to Anastasio, and asked Anastasio if he would be interested in helping us by giving an invitation to a friend. Anastasio smiled and immediately said, “give me two, Father.” 

The four of us rejoiced in this young man’s interest in being an evangelizer. We had one of those humble moments when we collectively realized how blessed we are to have an opportunity to be part of God’s ministry of reconciliation this Lent and every day of our lives!

I fear you might be thinking that it’s easy to invite when you are a priest or an RCIA retreat team and that maybe true, so please post a story of your own. Thanks!

 

 

Catholic Evangelizers

We had a post in which someone asked “How can I give witness to my faith?” Since this is without doubt one our top ten favorite questions, with a nod to David Letterman, I present the Top Ten ways Catholics evangelize.

 

10. Learn the Church’s history and teaching see www.adw.org/education , click on adult religious formation and see http://eps.trinitydc.edu

 9.  Get comfortable talking about why you love being a Catholic.

 8.  Around the water cooler or lunch table, say something like “My pastor made a really interesting point in his homily on Sunday” See what happens!

7. Join the Catholic Legislative Network.  It sends alerts when we need Catholics to contact our elected officials and weigh in something before our legislators. www.adw.org, click on service and justice.

6. When a neighbor, co-worker, or friend shares a concern or bad news, offer to pray for them and for the need. I’ve never been turned down for the promise of prayer.

5. Read your Bible.

4. Invite someone to join you at Mass, at a parish activity, or for a lecture.

3. Pray for a deeper faith, for the needs of the Church for the needs of the world.

2. Be a person of hope, be grateful for all that God gives you…People notice that.

 

And the number 1 way to witness to your Faith

 

1. Live your faith fully. Actively participate in weekly Mass. Receive the sacraments regularly. Make a regular retreat. People will want what you’ve got.

 

What did I forget? Post a comment

The Beauty of the Mass

The following video is a brief but beautiful tapestry of the Mass.

The video invites you to visit the website www.catholicmass.org, which contains inspriational and instructional material on the Holy Mass.  A full DVD can also be purchased, and it is a wonderful resource for those either returning to the Mass or wanting to learn more of the Sacred Liturgy.

Ask a Question

Some folks who have been away for a while have questions and concerns to express. (Even Catholics who have never been away have many questions!) Please feel free to use the comments section of this blog to ask questions and state concerns. All of us who contribute to this blog are pleased to answer your questions and address your concerns. Your questions will help this blog to get its wings and really fly. Ask and ye shall be answered!