Dear reluctant Mass-goers: You are the one your parish is waiting for.
O.K., in spite of dismal national trends, in spite of your family and friends leaving the church like rats jumping from a sinking ship, you want to remain Catholic. You have your reasons. Perhaps you are rock solid in your faith. Or perhaps it is more of a hunch, that Catholicism is where Jesus is calling you. Conviction or hunch, you suspect that being Catholic is going to involve going to Mass.
But here’s the thing: When you go to Mass, you do not get anything out of it. You know no one, the preaching is boring, the music is worse, and whatever is happening on the altar does not make sense. And come to think of it, it has never has made total sense to you. So now what? Discouraged, you could just forget the whole thing and get back to your life with Netflix, while your spiritual life withers away.
You know no one, the preaching is boring, the music is worse, and whatever is happening on the altar does not make sense.
Or you could do something about it—something more than showing up twice a year and getting depressed all over again. You could make the local parish your parish. Imagine being part of a community of people who know and love you. Imagine a place to worship the living God together with your fellow man and woman. Sounds good, sounds ideal really, and it can be done. The choice is yours: Will you be a consumer or an investor?
Here are five steps to try as you move toward investing in your local church. These steps will help you move from being a dissatisfied consumer to a living stone in the holy Catholic Church.
Pray every day. Sunday is just another day with God in your week, not the only day with God in your week. That one hour at Mass is your worship time, but most of your prayer you do on your own.
The choice is yours: Will you be a consumer or an investor?
And when you pray, try praying for the same amount of time that your priest preaches at Mass. Five minutes? Ten? Listening to God every day has to be at least as important as listening to a priest on Sunday. Pray for the local church, pray that the Holy Spirit fill it with light. Keep praying until it happens and then keep praying.
Commit. Pick a parish. First, go online and look around in your zip code. Visit every parish in your area. Check out the different Mass times because you will find different communities, different atmosphere—pews packed with families at 10 a.m., a smattering of young adults at the 6 p.m. Pick the one that suits you and start showing up on a regular basis—you know, like every weekend. Show up. Commit to it. Even read the Sunday readings before Sunday. Sit close to the front in the middle of a pew. Say the responses, and sing the songs.
You are what the local church is waiting for.
Be Bold. Introduce yourself to the priest. Go ahead, you are an adult, you can do it. Tell Father your name, ask what his is. Comment on his homily. Let him know you are listening and that what he says matters to you. Be kind, but start the conversation. Pray for him by name; being a priest is easy; being an effective priest is the work of the Holy Spirit. Work up to asking him to coffee or dinner.
Contribute. Take five dollars with you. You will eventually give online, but for now, find some actual cash and put it in the basket. Begin to give and look for ways to give more. This will change your relationship with the parish. You will be an investor, not a customer, and it will change you.
Connect. Meet the people in your pew. If there is no one in your pew, find a pew with people in it. Meet them. Go to coffee and doughnuts after Mass. Awkward though it may be, go and meet one person. That first person will not be your best friend—odds are against it. Next week, meet someone else.
These five steps will change everything. You are what the local church is waiting for. In fact, you are the local church, and the world is waiting for you to pull yourself together, leave the house and gather to worship the living God, the God who saves us through his love, the God who is found in the local parish, your parish.