January 03, 2011

Welcome

A frequent complaint about Catholic Churches is that they are not welcoming. I know there are people who are attracted to faith communities that seem more welcoming. Sometimes, Catholics leave the Church after being enticed by these more welcoming communities.

I used to be one. I know I was attracted to an Evangelical Church at one point in my life by my perception that they seemed friendlier and more welcoming than I was accustomed to. You could spend hours, all day, at the Evangelical church being social with your new friend. At the Catholic church, no one seemed to care if I came or left.

I realized I was vulnerable to these welcoming communities, not only because I craved social acceptance, but also because I was so poorly catechized that I had no idea what I was walking away from when I left the Catholic Church. I had no conception of the Real Presence.I didn’t understand what the Mass is.

I was deceived into thinking that the social aspects and the welcoming was what church should be. I had no thought or idea that church is and really should be about the Lord. To me, the Church should be the community, the social networks, the guys I could date, the parties.Oh, yeah, and we read Scripture together.

I was dissatisfied though. Something bothered me.

Eventually, I came back to the Church. However, when I came back to the Church I came back thru a Community that seemed extremely welcoming. It was but I was dissatisified-especially, as I learned more about the Faith. Things seemed wrong. I realized that welcoming was not all. The Eucharist is All. The Lord is All. Eucharist should not be secondary to the hearty “Hello” or “Welcome” you get from someone at the front door.

Speaking of welcome, anyone can feel welcome anywhere. It takes two. The Lord needs an open heart to enter and our relationship with the Lord is a two way street.In order to be effective it can’t be all Him or all me.

25 Comments:

Blogger Christine said...

Amen sister! The Mass should always be more about God than 'us'.

January 03, 2011 8:13 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Totally agree with your post! I am a convert from the land of Evangelicals~and I felt my welcome into the Church mainly from the Lord Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, but also from a group of particularly warm people. Now, I sometimes want to BE the warm individual that reaches out with a smile or wave after mass, just in case there is someone who kind of needs it.

January 03, 2011 10:02 AM  
Blogger belinda said...

When I go to Mass I would like to become invisible. I would rather not have to communicate with anyone. I don't want to be welcomed or invited to anything with anybody. I don't want to be part of any group either and I die to self with every "Peace be with you."

But it's the very same Eucharist which you describe that draws me out from myself and encourages me to BE part of the body of Christ and to embrace the community either spiritually or physically.

Jesus likes to point out that it's not all about me and my feelings and it never was.

The really great thing is that the Eucharist meets us where we are and makes us grow in the ways in which we are deficient and then by doing so he makes us all greater people than we really are.

(I'm blogging that last paragraph, he's awesome.)

January 03, 2011 10:32 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I have always aspired to be on the welcoming committee, but they said I couldn't wear jeans to Mass and greet new arrivals dressed like that.

I never felt more unwelcome in my life.

January 03, 2011 11:16 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

@Terry--are you serious?

anyways-we don't have a committee.

January 03, 2011 11:40 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Great post. Certainly, this is a feeling that many have when they walk into a Catholic church and it is hard to describe this to people that don't believe in or understand the Eucharist. I was discussing my walk in the faith with a non-denominational Christian last week and how I have a personal relationship with Christ, especially in the Eucharist. She said she had never heard a Catholic say that!

However, I do believe that some sort of 'welcoming' is desired at church, but that welcoming belongs in the overall atmosphere, not necessarily in a large committee going out of their way to draw people in. A smile does go a long way and an understanding of church teaching is the best welcoming party there is.

January 03, 2011 1:24 PM  
OpenID drawntocatholicism said...

I am attracted to the truth of the Catholic Church. I don't like every Catholic parish and, I don't have too. I spent many, many years in an leading the protestant welcoming wasteland. I prefer truth.

January 03, 2011 2:20 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I'm sorry Kelly - I should have done a 'lol' - I was just giving Cath a hard time... it a jeans joke.

January 03, 2011 4:12 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

ah! kind of had a feeling I wasn't getting something...:P

January 03, 2011 4:56 PM  
Blogger belinda said...

Gosh darn it Mr.Terry, your not very good at welcoming - look you've gone and upset Miss Kelly!
*****
Terry always prefers Jeans - unless he's painting alone in his basement :O
(Don't ask)

January 03, 2011 4:58 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

I don't have any particular personal experience, but isn't much of the attraction of many of the mega churches where so many Catholic end up:

a) the quality of their choirs,
b) the dynamism of their preachers, c) the prosperity promised by their gospels,
d) the small number of their rules,
e) and the recipes for their coffee and donuts?

January 03, 2011 6:11 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I will def not ask about the painting in the basement thing.
No offense taken at all~ :) I wasn't the first time I didn't get a joke...just ask my kids.

January 03, 2011 8:02 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Good comments here.

Kelly: Terry stating he wanted to be a part of a welcome committee is the real joke-lol

January 03, 2011 8:36 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

LOL! Cath gets it!

January 03, 2011 9:05 PM  
Blogger belinda said...

Yeah,... well, we all get it Mr.T but I'm scared to post any of my HILARIOUS Terry with a stick jokes!

Wait! I found an actual photo of Mr.Terry at the front door of his parish welcoming parishioners...
Aww, can't you just feel the warmth?!

January 03, 2011 9:17 PM  
Anonymous L. said...

Love this post! I do miss the social groups/fellowship/choirs of our former mega church sometimes, but love the quality of mass at our new parish...what could be more important? "The Eucharist is All. The Lord is All"--perfect!

January 04, 2011 8:28 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

@belinda-nice :) and Terry!apparently your reputation precedes you, lol.
@L. I know what you mean, but for me personally, I miss that stuff for kind of weird reasons~ I was in a very bad marriage and (evangelical) church was the only time I saw any other humans and I NEEDED the contact.:) Now thanks to the Lord's work, things are much better~ as much as I want to be a good "ambassador" I dislike the sign of peace. I have enough kids that I can usually spend the whole things just greeting them :) as though they needed it.

January 04, 2011 9:00 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Belinda:LOL

January 04, 2011 8:06 PM  
Blogger Subvet said...

When my wife left the Methodists over their adamant endorsement of "reproductive rights" she started looking for another denomination that would be more in line with Biblical teaching and where she would feel more appreciated.

That last part came from being a member of a small church where, if you weren't in the right clique you were marginalized.

The last thing she vowed to do was follow me to the RC Church. No way, no how and don't even try. So I didn't.

Next thing I know she's all afire to join because our church has all the various committees she was looking to either start or be a part of. That included a ministry geared towards special needs families (our two sons are autistic). I got hit upside the head with "Didja know this, didja know that and hows about this one here" so fast my head was swimming.

This was all in a church of about three thousand parishoners (and still growing, BTW. Our capital building campaign just took off. "Father" is tired of seeing SRO for the six Masses we have every week and makes no bones about it.)

My wife's conversion was two years ago, she still hasn't stopped finding welcoming folk who gladly share their lives and the Faith with her.

So as far as a lack of "welcome" is concerned, I think its a matter of what parish you belong to.

January 05, 2011 9:43 PM  
Blogger Georgette said...

Great points here, Cathy. The Faith is not a social committee. The Main Thing is Jesus, the Eucharist, The Sacraments...everything else is just icing on teh cake :)

Happy Epiphany!!

January 06, 2011 1:49 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

All I know is this--when i returned to the faith, I had to grit my teeth and smile at the "welcoming committee". What i wanted was the Sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist.

But I knew that truth kept it's residence in the Catholic Church, so I put up with the banality, went to confession, received communion and returned to the faith.

Being greeted at the door was not an aid, it was an obstacle.

January 06, 2011 7:36 PM  
Blogger Nan said...

The trick is to sneak in when the welcoming committee isn't paying attention.

January 06, 2011 9:33 PM  
Anonymous gafas de sol said...

Thanks for the informative. Fantastic blog. Congratulations!!!

January 11, 2011 12:43 PM  
Blogger Manny said...

I'm like Belinda; I would prefer to be invisble in church, except for the sign of the peace of course. I feel it's my time with the Lord. The Eucharest is central. But it would be nice if people were more welcoming. And you're right - we are poorly catechized. The church has to make changes there.

January 11, 2011 10:13 PM  
Blogger Clamburger said...

As welcoming as protestant churches may seem, their doctrine is not nearly so well-thought-out as Catholics, and their presentation of it certainly isn't. I LIKE the welcoming part, personally, and at my parish, it makes me feel like I'm not doing anything welrd by not talking to anybody when I see the sign that says "silence, please" right outside of the sanctuary doors.

Subvet: SRO for six masses? --Would it be more logical to build a bigger building, or to start a sister church within the same perish?

January 21, 2011 8:33 AM  

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