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.
Where does the bible say it must be qualified?
And you are right about fruits. But that is how WE know them. God knows them in His way.
You would still be welcome. There are non-Catholics who come to the Easter Vigil Mass in particular because they find it so inspirational.
*Christian behavior* needs to be defined by Scripture, not religiosity.
Attending church is works. The fruit of our faith in Jesus is listed in Galatians 5. Don't forget that the pharisees were masters at keeping the letter of the Law and look what Jesus had to say to and about them.
Galatians 5:22-24 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
I don’t find it inspirational, but it has to do with my beliefs regarding the Catholic church. I really need to leave it at that.
Holly and Lily seems to be a 'religious' thing and in any Baptist church I've ever attended, we look down on 'religionists' as phoney or worse hypocrites.
I'm careful not to use a posessive "I'm a Baptist" because I consider myself more a Christian because of my acceptence of what Jesus has done for me and I now enjoy a personal relationship with Him, thus steering clear of being part of another "religion"
I was born into a Catholic home and somewhere around 12 or 13 years old, I and we (friends) just got bred with going someplace because we were sent, to do things that never changed by a religion that was more interested in controlling us rather than teach us (No one understood Latin), so what was the point .... the same movie every week ... yawn.
In 1981, I met a Messianic Jew that witnessed to me Jesus and His desire for me to be "saved" ... and THAT made sense, so I received Him as my Savior, August 15, 1981.
I went to a Baptist church shortly thereafter because I had an odd desire to be baptised (Catholics are baptized as infants and should not need nor desire another baptism, but I did, so I went where I thought you got baptized ... a Baptist church.
THERE I heard a man speak with wisdom, clarity, comviction and (as I learned and studied and even questioned what I was hearing) .. truth.
Truth is not up for arbitration nor interpretation.
Having said all that, in any Baptist church I've been in when The Lord's table or The Lord's supper was practiced, the preacher always preluded the event with the words that we were to examine ourselves and not partake if we were not born again as we believe that communion or The Lord's table was meant for Jesus inner circle and only born again believers are part of that.
The long Catholic lines?
nothing more than a show of hands.
Reminds me of something I read once. A friend of C. S. Lewis, after Lewis’ death, said that Lewis appeared to him in a leather chair in his office and said these words: “It’s not that hard.”
FYI - Those folks who show up for Christmas and Easter mass only are caled Creasters.
I’m sorry that you believe that way, but I would still accept you as a brother in Christ.
“Most people dont hate what the Catholic Church teaches they hate what they think the Catholic Church teaches.” ...Bishop Fulton Sheen
He said that about knowing false prophets ... the "each other" is known by the work of the Holy Spirit which bears witness (to each other) that we are children of God.
Indeed it is.
Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holydays of obligation, the faithful are obliged to assist at Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body.
2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
Yet there’s some of us that don’t like the new language and won’t comply.
Bring back the Latin Mass!
Even were we not commanded to do so, we should not lightly neglect the worship and adoration of our Saviour. Considering what He did for us, regular worship is the very least (and perhaps less than the very least) that we can do in return.
Of course the big holidays bring with them heavy guilt, so the crowds are standing room only.
Personally I prefer to avoid going on those days. It’s too crowded and it’s not usually as good an experience. Plus I don’t have to listen to all the catty old bats squawking about those that only show on the big holidays, as if their devotion is somehow less genuine.
“*Christian behavior* needs to be defined by Scripture, not religiosity.”
Amen to that. And the Bible does say,
“24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
(Hebrews chapter 10)
Also many of the things we are instructed to do occur in the assembly of believers, not by ourselves. Such things as taking communion, choosing elders, hearing the word preached, etc.
With all due respect, that’s Catholic stuff, not Christian stuff.
As far as I know, the most the bible gets into it is “do not forsake the gathering together of yourselves.
The Christian experience is so personal (between the Christian and God) that any get together of humans that are Christian is kinda like a family reunion more than anything else. And most definitely not a “requirement”.
This includes “going to church”.
“Where does the bible say it must be qualified?”
Many passages, similar to this:
“26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
(Hebrews chapter 10)
I have a theory about so-called CEO’s (Christmas and Easter Only) Christians. They don’t exist. For whatever reason, some people go to church 2 or 3 Sundays a month. So, on a typical Sunday, you see about 75 percent of the usual churchgoers. But nobody misses Easter and Christmas, so you have 100 percent.
Nothing like CEO’s to fill the church.
—Considering what He did for us, regular worship is the very least (and perhaps less than the very least) that we can do in return.—
I’m with you on that one. My wife and I do that constantly. In fact, we thank God every single day for bringing us to our new home in Kentucky. But we only go to church once a week.
Throughout life I have grown much closer to the Lord and worked to live a Christian life every day. Throughout that same time, I have also become more and more cynical toward most organized religion. I have watched the hypocrisy of both clergy and parishioners as they wallow in sin throughout their daily lives then try to cleanse their lives in an hour each week with a church and collection plate.
I stopped reading at “Extraordinary minister” and citing Andy Greeley. She’s not supposed to be any kind of minister and he’s a heretic.
But what can you expect from the Washington archdiocese that suspends a priest for refusing to give Holy Communion to an atheist lesbian!
—Also many of the things we are instructed to do occur in the assembly of believers, not by ourselves.—
I agree. God created us as communal creatures. A man surrounded by churches, but attending none of them can, even if he reads the word daily, get a rather introverted and strange interpretation of scripture if he does not commune with fellow believers, IMO.
My dad has fallen into that trap. He is all into the “true” seventh day adventist movement. He thinks that all churches are lost, but the “normal” SDA church is the worst of all. He thinks the pope is the antichrist, and that any bible other than the King James Version is the work of satan. And no matter how much clear scripture you give him to argue the point, it’s literally like arguing with liberals on DU. He does not hear the meaning of the words you use. If it were not so serious, it would be comical.
“” Jesus said we can know each other by our fruits. “
He said that about knowing false prophets ... the “each other” is known by the work of the Holy Spirit which bears witness (to each other) that we are children of God. “
Yes, but there are false prophets among us, which presupposes an “us,” a group of people that can actually discipline and be disciplined by elders - there are instructions, quite explicit, for choosing out elders from the assembled Christians for the purpose of ruling over them.
Consider the instructions Jesus gave us in Mathew chapter 18 for example:
“15 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.[b] 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 Again I say[c] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
This instruction presumes, among other things, that there is a “church” to tell it to.
Why do churches not make an effort to get people to come back regularly?
The parish where I grew up had a “Welcome Sunday” where people were asked to come back and have a fresh start. They advertised it for several weeks at Mass and in the bulletin. People were asked to speak one on one with relatives and friends to invite them back. We had a communal reconciliation service on Saturday and lots of folks came to Mass on Sunday and regularly afterwards as a result.
I can’t imagine why this is not more common.
—They dont exist. —
I think you may be on to something. And people like me specifically avoiding that day make it bearable for the rest of them.
I used to drive the bus for my church and play in the orchestra. I’ve attended a LOT of Easters and Christmases. Same messages. Nice clothes.
Also, (God forgive me again), I find myself judging, "why don't all these folks come for other services, not many of them are out-of-towners..."
We are in the middle of Holy Week, so I am making a determined effort to attend as many services as I can (it's never crowded during the Week!), and pray for strength to have a go-with-flow attitude come Saturday night. The Easter Homily of St. John Chrysostom is very helpful for keeping a welcoming spirit to those who arrive at the "Eleventh Hour."
Then it's not 'yes'
Throughout life I have grown much closer to the Lord and worked to live a Christian life every day. Throughout that same time, I have also become more and more cynical toward most organized religion.
That is something I’ve struggled with as well, except for the hypocrisy stuff. I played trombone in an AG church orchestra for many years and about 15 singing Christmas trees. I then learned the bass and was in the worship band in another church, and then the whole band (except for me) decided to be the band at another church. What’s up with that?
I became the music leader at that church, and years later when I left it (I really thought it should have disbanded, frankly) I worked in the music ministry in another church.
It was like being in school plays - everyone acted like children trying to be teacher’s pet. There was a lip-service of “doing it for God”, but when people are complaining about not getting enough solo’s etc, well, you know...
I now attend a small Baptist church less than a mile from my house. We never thought we would like it because it was just too convenient (and it was Baptist). So we church hopped when we moved here and when we finally went to that one, as my wife describes it, “we were home”. The people were so nice. They really DO study the bible and try to live Jesus’ commandments, and the pastor has a real heart for the people there and it comes out in his messages. And after a few months, I finally confided in him an actual miracle I experienced, and how odd and hard to explain it was. And he had had the exact same thing happen. As he described it I even recognized some emotions I had at the time that I had forgotten.
I’ve heard the term frequently. Then again, I was a Baptist deacon for a few years and thinking back I mostly heard it while talking shop with the board and the pastor. It was not meant in a derogatory way. One of my responsibilities was reaching out to the “Holly and Lily” folks to see if they could be served by the church in some way. The responses were predictable. Most of them seemed to just be “keeping the family tradition” or “doing it for the kids”, both terms I heard frequently. Catholics aren’t the only ones guilty of making a mere “show of hands”.