|Trip To Into Quincy Market and the North End|
There is one event from this First Week that stands out for me. Firstly, let me provide some background. Sometimes, if I feel like the congregation at Mass is getting a bit sluggish in its responses, I may mention during the homily or at the end of Mass, something to this effect: "Sometimes, when I am offering Mass, I wonder if someone came up the steps of the church and looked in what would their reaction be? If they see a bunch of people standing there with blank stares, not singing, looking bored and disengaged, they might conclude, 'All of these people are being held hostage. I better get out of here before I am captured too.' On the other hand, if they see people totally engaged, singing, prayerful, and joyful, perhaps they will think, 'I want to stay here.'"
After Mass was over, we had a pancake breakfast at the Catholic Center. At the breakfast, one of our FOCUS Missionaries introduced me to a young man from another country. He is new to
|Sunday Pancake Breakfast|
The people who sing at Mass in the choir, who show up for a rehearsal when they're tired, who give of themselves etc, it's not about them. It's about this young man who heard something beautiful and was moved by it. When people show up for Sunday Mass, it isn't just about them. It's about someone looking in the back of a church and seeing a huge crowd of young people and thinking, "This looks interesting." Who knows? Maybe if a good portion of those young people had decided to skip Mass this Sunday or to look bored and disengaged, that young man may have looked in and said, "I don't want to belong to this group." When we go to Mass, we go not only for ourselves, but for others. When we sing at Mass, we sing not only for ourselves, but for God and for others. The people who made breakfast, set up tables, cleaned up afterwards . . . they were all helping someone to feel drawn into a communion of life.
That FOCUS Missionary was a friendly face. She welcomed a new person. She didn't know that a new person was going to sit next to her. But, when he did, she made him feel welcome. The other FOCUS Missionary who gave him a tour of our building, made this new person feel welcomed. When they gave this man a tour of our chapel, he asked them to teach him how to genuflect and how to make the Sign of the Cross. This is so awesome. He's not baptized and knows nothing about Catholicism, but was moved by what he witnessed in others.
Before we can invite others to be part of something, we first actually have to possess something. We cannot focus on inviting others if we are not already part of something that moves us, inspires us, and gives us new life. Techniques can be helpful, but they cannot replace authenticity. At the very foundation of evangelization is a fidelity to an encounter that moves me. Without this, we can sound like we are selling a product that we really don't believe in. But, when we believe it and are moved by our life together in Christ, we are moved to share that joy with others. It is then that techniques can be helpful. But no technique can replace true communion.
Another thing I've learned at the Catholic Center during the past three years is that nothing is better than a personal invitation. We can use social media, bulletins, and apps, and all of these can be beneficial, but the most effective method is that of personal invitation. We can use the media to assist us in our mission, but nothing can replace person to person invitations. We often will ask people, "How did you find the Catholic Center?" or "Why did you come on this retreat?" More often than not, the answer is, "So and so invited me."
I hope some day someone will ask a man, "Why did you become Catholic?" and he will answer, "I heard this beautiful music from inside a church. I looked in, saw all of these young people praying and singing. Then someone invited me to a breakfast and everyone was so joyful to meet me. That's why I became a Catholic."