So this brings me to the topic of "C & E Catholics". The Church is going to be packed on Christmas just as it is on Easter. Those of us who attend weekly may feel just a tad bit annoyed as we deal with the parking lot mayhem, the crowded pews, and the numerous folks who look lost and confused. We may feel like saying, "And just exactly where have you been the other 50 Sundays of the year?" Don't. Scoot to the center of the pew to make room for them, smile at them, and help them find their place in the missal.
Why am I mentioning this now when we still have more than two weeks before Christmas? Because I want you to do more than just be nice to them at Mass. I want you to prepare for their arrival and be ready to evangelize. One of the best resources for fallen away Catholics is the Catholics Come Home web site. Take a look at the videos on that site. They are powerful! If you are involved in your parish religious education program, why don't you send a note home to the parents that goes something like this:
During the Christmas Season you will likely have friends or family members who are attending Mass after a long absence from the Church. Why don't you refer them to the web site http://www.catholicscomehome.org/. Catholics Come Home offers outstanding video, audio, and written resources to help Catholics rediscover and reconnect with their faith.
Put a note in the bulletin that will be handed out at Christmas Masses:
Have you been away from the Church for a while? Welcome home! Please take a look at the Catholics Come Home web site (http://www.catholicscomehome.org ) to help you rediscover your faith. We look forward to seeing you again on Sunday.
Make sure written information about parish adult religious education opportunities is readily available for people to take home. This is our one shot until Easter to ignite a spark of faith. Make good use of it!
Of course, no effort is complete unless accompanied by prayer. Consider asking for the intercession of St. Monica.
Exemplary Mother of the Great Augustine,
You perseveringly pursued your wayward son
Not with wild threats
But with prayerful cries to heaven.
Intercede for all mothers in our day
So that they may learn
To draw their children to God.
Teach them how to remain
Close to their children,
Even the prodigal sons and daughters
Who have sadly gone astray.
Dear St Monica, troubled wife and mother,
Many sorrows pierced your heart
During your lifetime.
Yet you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence and profound faith,
You prayed daily for the conversion
Of your beloved husband, Patricius
And your beloved son, Augustine.
Grant me that same fortitude,
Patience and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
That God may favorably hear my plea
For all our Catholic brothers and sisters
who have strayed from the faith.
And grant me the grace
To accept his will in all things,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever.