Why the Church Must Knock on Doors
A Muslim friend told me the other day: “As a Church, we have become too disconnected with the faithful.”
His wife is a Catholic, who decided to keep her faith, as did he. Together the pair decided to have their daughter baptised in the Catholic Church, because they saw it as “important”.
He told me that his daughter had not been to church since her baptism as his wife doesn’t go to church. He explained that his wife felt a disconnection between the Church and its faithful.
He explained to me how the Church expects the faithful to fulfil holy days of obligation and to give of their time in ministry, but how the Church didn’t “do” anything for them.
There might be the spiritual nourishment of receiving the word of God and Christ in the Eucharist, he said, but the Church was not being physically nor emotionally supportive enough.
We Listen to the Beatitudes But Do We Do them?
As I stood there listening to an “outsider” to our faith speak words of truth, I thought about how hypocritical we were at times. Often we sit in the pews listening to sermons of how we should be more caring, of giving back, comforting the lonely, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and so on. But how much of that is being practised?
In my youth, my grandmother spoke about how priests and religious would visit their home. In my neatly 15 years as a devout Catholic, my family has not been visited once by any of the priests in the parishes to which we have belonged.
We need to see more house visit. We need to see more priests and religious walking the streets visiting the faithful (may they be sick or not). A relationship, a rapport, needs to be formed between religious and the faithful. Until that happens, we will remain disconnected as a Church community, and our numbers will continue to drop.
A few years ago, while my wife was doing her RCIA and beginning her journey in converting to Catholicism, the dominee from her previous church visited her maternal home to find out why he had not seen her in church in a while. Finding out about her conversion, he was quite sad to be losing a congregant, but he was happy to know that she was continuing her faith journey elsewhere, and had not just turned her back on the faith.
How many of our fellow Catholic brethren are what we term “annual” Catholics? How many of us haven’t been to Mass in a long, long time?
The chances of a priest or religious visiting are very slim, and the doors of these other churches (many of them founded by lapsed Catholics) are open and welcoming the faithful to “connect”.
We can learn so much from our fellow Christian brethren and even from those of other faiths.
Look at the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who claim to be Christian but are not) who knock on doors — isn’t this something we should be doing to bring others to knowing, loving and serving Christ and his Church?
Maybe we should be more like the Seventh Day Adventists and have a combined family lunch after church on Sundays in the homes of different people, and take the Word to those who need it most. Maybe we should be more like the Salvation Army and give more charitably?
Or maybe we should understand that as many churches broke away from the Catholic Church, they took fundamental truths of charity, love, service and connection.
In that, we need to be more connected to the people of our faith and together grow in a stronger bond of love with Jesus our Saviour and with one another.
And as my devout Muslim friend told me: we need to get walking, we need to knock on the doors of the faithful, sit down, have a cup of tea, and pray for the home and the family.
As a Church we need to be more Christ-centred, seeing his true presence within the hearts of the smallest among us.