Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Catholics Come Home at Christmas

Yesterday, I taught my seventh grade CCD class. Class time overlapped our parish's last Mass for the Feast of The Immaculate Conception so I was missing several students who were attending Mass. There were also a couple of students who were out sick. Of the remaining eight students who were in attendance, not a single one had attended Mass earlier in the day. Most of them had also not been to Mass on Sunday. Interestingly, they all expect to go to Mass on Christmas.

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 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 ( ) 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.



EbethW said...

Yep! This is a great way to look at it. They need to be gently led back home.

Thanks, Denise.

Say a prayer for my 13 yo daughter..she hasn't been feeling well for the past week and have been to the dr already once another appt will be tomorrow

Rosemary Bogdan said...

What great suggestions.

Dismas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dismas said...

Tell me, Denise, while you are busy showing these lapsed Catholics the missal on Christmas morning, do you also intend to tell them, as you did on this blog site on October 16, 2008, that they really aren't Catholics at all? Do you plan on telling them that they are as much "Jedis" as they are Catholics? Is that also part of your plan to get these very same "C & E Catholics" back to Mass each week?

Stina said...

Great post! And that's a beautiful prayer!

Catholic Mom said...

Dear Dismas,
Thank you for removing your first post. Your current version is far more charitable. I also appreciate that I so angered you a couple of months ago and you have kept on reading. Since you bring up my post from October 16, let me offer you some clarification. You seem to have misunderstood. If you read the entire post from that day, you will see the final two paragraphs say:

If you have wandered away from the Church and want to come home, I will support you every step of the way. The Church is waiting to receive you with open arms. I want you to come home. I want you to share in the grace and blessings of the Catholic Church. I want to walk with you on this journey of faith. No judgment. No condemnation.

I don't think that contradicts this current post in any way.

The final paragraph states:
On the other hand, if you have walked away from the Church and want to keep on walking away, I will pray for you. But don’t think you can take that Catholic identity with you. It is time to either fish or cut bait. Don’t cheapen the word Catholic by using it as a cultural label. Catholicism is not just a label. It is a way of life. It is a very specific faith. It is tough. Make a choice. Are you going to be Catholic or not?

One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to instruct the ignorant. It is a serious form of ignorance to believe that one can be Catholic while rejecting the Church.The point of my October 16 post was to dispel the idea that one can be a cultural Catholic. I hope that helps you see my perspective.

May God bless you.

Dismas said...

The only ignorance lies is failing to recognize that each of us are indelibly marked as Catholics on the day we are baptized. As the Catechism points out rather clearly (See Paragraph # 1272 of the CCC), there is nothing that anyone can do to remove that mark. No amount of sin renders a baptized Catholic a non-Catholic. A baptized Catholic can lose the fruits of salvation, but he or she remains eternally a Catholic.

Secondly, there is nothing at all merciful in telling a lapsed or non-practicing Catholic that they are as much "a Jedi" as they are a Catholic. You may have succeeded in deluding yourself into thinking that you are engaging in some sort of Spiritual Act of Mercy, but you aren't fooling anyone but yourself. Your intent on October 16 was not to instruct the ignorant; your intent was to insult others, and that is precisely what you did. You didn't act in a way that would draw those fallen away Catholics back into the fold. You didn't do anything to encourage them. In your anger you acted in a way that would drive them further away from Christ's Church. What you did was anything but merciful or charitable. What you did was anything but Catholic.

May God bless you as well.

Catholic Mom said...

Dear Dismas,
This is the phrase of the Catechism that you cite:
1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.

This is addressing a very different issue than the one I am discussing.We are baptized as Christians. We are indelibly claimed for Christ. That is why the Church does not repeat the baptism of a Protestant who enters the Church as long as the original baptism was done with the proper form and intent. So yes, once we are marked for Christ we are always marked for Christ.

Membership in the Catholic Church is quite different. That is not indelible. To assert that it is would say that there is no such thing as excommunication. Excommunication need not be formal. You excommunicate yourself when you remove yourself from the Communion of the Church by rejecting the authority of the Magisterium and setting yourself up as the ultimate authority on faith and morals. Excommunication is also not indelible. You can repent and be welcomed back into the fold.

I am very sorry you were so offended by my use of hyperbole in my post of October 16. Truly my intent was to make a point and instruct, not to insult.