Skip to comments.What are they thinking? (The Easter and Christmas only Church-goers, that is!)
Posted on 04/10/2012 10:09:53 AM PDT by Salvation
On Easter Sunday I had the privilege of serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at the 9:00 am Mass. By the time Mass began it was standing room only in the church. This was not a surprise. I bet it was the same at your parish. When it came time to distribute Communion, another person and I were asked to go to a station at the rear of the church. A line formed among those standing. At a certain point, I wondered why the line did not seem to get shorter and I realized that people were coming through the doors of the church and getting in line for Communion. After Mass, I learned that indeed people were standing three deep on the sidewalk during Mass. Because it was such a beautiful day, the doors were wide open and the music could surely be heard, but how much of the readings and homily and Eucharistic prayer did people hear?
Ive been wondering what made them stay and what makes our brother and sister Catholics who dont come to Mass often and maybe only at Christmas and Easter come on these feasts. On the one hand, if recent studies are correct and a majority of Catholics consider themselves as active if they go to Mass once a month on average, then making sure you plan to go on Christmas and Easter is a no-brainer. But for those who come infrequently, why stand on the sidewalk? Reverend Andrew Greeley, SJ, a sociologist talks about the sacramental imagination that is nurtured in the Catholic mind and that like Baptism seems to leave and indelible mark and so even for the Catholic who is not practicing the faith, his world view is a Catholic worldview. Another priest pondered that maybe if a person calls themselves Christian, then at the very least they see a need to come to church on Easter to represent so to speak!
Dont get me wrong, I love that the congregation overflowed onto the sidewalk on Capitol Hill. What a witness to the truth that the Easter story has real meaning and continues to capture peoples imagination. When I ask what are they thinking, I really want to know, because if we who are serious about the New Evangelization can better understand what the pull is to come to church once or twice a year than we can use that as a starting point for helping them look more deeply at their own experience. We can better able in our preaching and teaching and conversation make a more convincing argument for how active participation in life of the church will make a real difference in every part of ones life. Fr. Bill Byrne, the pastor, in his homily said that the story of the Resurrection does not just have meaning for a moment but rather calls for a commitment. If you believe the story, you need to make a commitmentto discipleship, to Mass, to service. How did people hear that? Are they still thinking about it today?
He knows as all of us know that it wont be standing room only next week. When we better understand the impulse to come to church once, twice, a few times a year, we can better help our brother and sisters move from impulse to commitment. Any insights you can share with me?
Your comments welcome.
I know we have had people packed in our vestibule -- standing room only and out on the sidewalk too.
Yes. It happens in other denominations, too. But why assume the ones standing outside are the ones who only come once or twice a year? Seating is reserved only in Synagogues—not in Christian churches. The one-r/two-ers may have gotten there early enough to take a seat.
Not all christians are christians...
Same here. My church usually fills up pretty decently - we get on average about 175 people each week. But on Easter and Christmas, we have to open up the chapel on the side and hold two services - and even then we’re filled to capacity.
I have been led to understand that deliberately neglecting the mass for even a single Sunday is a mortal sin (as opposed to missing mass due to unavoidable circumstances, which is not sin). Is that correct?
The article in and of itself is exactly why I am not involved in organized religion, which invariably has distorted the true teachings of God and/or made up their own along the way, or have eliminated (or tried to) the ones they disagreed with.
Be happy they came.
And always remember all it takes to get into heaven is the belief in God and his son. Nothing else. At least according to those that have died and come back to tell the tale.
But feel free to believe what you want.
Holly and Lily Christians — LOL — I’ve never heard that before.
I wonder if these people realize that they are disobeying a commandment to “Keep holy the Lord’s Day.”
I stuggled with it this Easter as I sat her with a broken foot unable to attend church. You can laugh at me if you wish, but I cried because I could not be there to support the Body of Christ and to receive Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
Why do you stay away from Church? The doors are always open, Christ says, "Come, follow me."
Those are the two days I DON’T go to church. Seriously.
“And always remember all it takes to get into heaven is the belief in God and his son.”
This is a true statement, but must be qualified. True belief will result in Christian behavior. Jesus said we can know each other by our fruits.
That’s one of the reasons I avoid church those days. It opens up a seat for someone that doesn’t normally go. It could be their day.
I pray an EM showed up at your house to bring you the Most Precious Body on that most holy of days!
Attend the Vigil Masses then. They are absolutely beautiful and, it seems to me, that the vast majority of those in the pews are much more spiritually motivated and dedicated.
Sorry about that. You are missing a rich liturgy on both days.
Perhaps more accurately, now all who call themselves Christians are Christians.
If someone looks at it as the default option because of what they're not (Jewish, Muslim, atheist) then it's not really a accurate label.
If you are not a follower of Christ, you don't have the right to claim the label of *Christian*, or *little Christ*.
I’m not Catholic. I did go to a midnight mass with my wife once near downtown Seattle though. She comes from a VERY devout Irish Catholic family. In her mid 30’s she became the family black sheep when she went protestant.
A personal opinion contradicted by Scripture.
Every time I find a pastor that I like they wind up moving away.
I go to my parents church whenever I travel to PA. He’s good and he listens to my questions and theories, most of which are highly heretical.
For example I firmly believe that while Jesus was the son of God his intention was not to start yet another religion but to reform the existing Jewish faith. The New Testament is loaded with examples. One of these days I need to bounce this of Ron. His reaction should be pretty funny.
We had many Chreasters at Mass on Easter Sunday. “Chreasters” are those who only show up at Mass at Christmas and Easter, hence “Chreasters”. Happy to have them, but why not show up year-round?
—Sorry about that. You are missing a rich liturgy on both days.—
I can say with confidence (based on personal experience) that if you are not a Catholic it is a different experience.