Little Way of the Family

Fast Food Faith
October 14, 2010, 3:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As Catholics, do we treat the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a fast food joint?
Do we zip in at the last minute, feeling relieved on those Sundays when we actually find our seats before the usher rings the bell and the procession begins?
Do we pump our fists in excitement (discreetly, of course) when we realized that the priest has just given an uncharacteristically short homily?
Do we start checking our watches after communion, congratulating ourselves for not being one of those people who leave early but earnestly praying for Father to fold those altar linens just a little more quickly?
Do we feel frustrated when Father introduces a speaker right before closing prayer?
Do we pack our things and put on our jackets during the final blessing, then wait with calves tensed like sprinters at the starting line for the recession to pass by?
Do we choose our parking spaces for the easiest, quickest getaway?
Do we drive away knowing that the next time we’ll see the parish is next Sunday, when once again we’ll rush in at the last minute, eager to get our weekly Mass obligation over with so that we can get on with our weekend?
No, of course it isn’t we who do that. It’s always someone else, right?

Why do so many Catholics treat our churches like fast food joints and the Body and Blood of the Lord like an extra value meal? Shouldn’t there be something more to it? Even those of us who would never dream of missing a Mass, who pray the rosary daily, go to confession regularly, or who attend eucharistic adoration are guilty of this.
What is the issue? Read Acts Chapter 2and 4. One of the essential elements of Christianity is community. It is in community that we practice love of neighbor. It is in community that we learn. It is in community that we strengthen our faith. When we zip in for Mass, for confession, for adoration, we are setting ourselves as apart from the Catholic community and a part of the world, in spite of our devotions.

A common observation is that protestant churches do a better job of welcoming newcomers and building community. I have often dismissed this fact, saying that church shouldn’t be a social club. Of course that is true, but it misses a bigger point. The reason, I believe, that protestants do a better job of community building is that community is all they have. They don’t have the sacraments, the Mass in particular. Without community, they have no reason to go to church at all. They could read their bibles at home and be just as saved as they think they are.
We are blessed by the sacraments, and they are our first priority. But community is important, too. When a baby is baptized at Mass, it is a wonderful thing to know the family. When a parishioner is ill, it is a wonderful thing to have parish friends call and visit. It is wonderful to have friends who share in the culture-defying values that devoted Catholicism demands. Friends who believe that marriage is forever, that abortion and contraception are evil, that charity and love of God, rather than a desire to get ahead, should drive our actions. Through this community, we truly make one Body of Christ, not a disconnected collection of believers.
So ditch the fast-food. Spend time with your parish family, and enjoy the meal, a true meal of thanksgiving.


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