Looking In From the Outside
Do you remember filling out a survey back in February? Many Catholics across the globe took part in a survey for a 2023 Bishops synod (conference) that would help Bishops understand the state of their flocks. My fiancé was part of the team for our Archdiocese who compiled our answers and assessed them. One general reaction they had I found striking: Every age group feels that parish programs are excluding them. EVERY age group thinks that the parish programing is excluding THEM.
Most of us are experiencing a phenomenon of looking in from the outside. I assure you that I can sympathize with this, and am possibly the cause of it. This is an opportunity for self-reflection. What lies do I believe that prevent me from participating in the life of my parish? Whether it is thinking a different age group would not benefit from your witness, that you are not educated enough to participate in a group, that no one else is having an experience of loneliness in practicing their faith, or that parish involvement is limited to school and youth groups- you have believed a lie.
I remember when I was child being upset that a neighbor had not invited me over to play in the sprinkler. Only when it was over did I learn he had invited no one, they had just come.
Demons want you to feel isolated, alone, and misunderstood. Your life has a purpose, and you have a story to share that others need to hear. Our lives bear witness to Christ in our midst. Taking part in a parish community involves getting to know others, sharing our experiences, and hearing their experiences. Sharing our lives together is not an option for a parish- it is a given for a Christian community to thrive. Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2 describes the first Christian community:
“And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2: 43-47 RSV
So what part do you have to play in the story of salvation? Only God knows the full answer. What I can tell you that it is from the inside looking out, not the outside looking in. You never know what impact you may make from joining a small group or going through a parish study. Certainly, if your only communal exercise is the Mass, then you are missing out.
Do you know someone involved with a small group? That Man is You? The Lady’s Guild? Return? Alpha? Ask them what their experience has been like and if you would enjoy it. If it has enhanced their life, it is certainly worth looking into.
If you don’t know where to begin, I want to personally invite you to The Search. This parish-wide study is for everyone. I was impressed with the level of conversation at our first meeting last week. Whether it is for you or not it is your style, it is a place to start. Please feel free to join us for any of the upcoming sessions:
The Search 6:30 p.m. St. Joan of Arc Cafeteria. Join us for a video and discussion with food. Upcoming dates: September 22nd, October 6th, October 13th, October 20th, November 3rd, November 10th.
Peace in Christ,
Director of Evangelization