Birth, marriage, death–these are moments when God is no longer escapable!
No one can really “leave the Church” anymore than one can “leave” his or her family. When the prodigal son left home to seek his own way without his father’s interference, he may have left the house, but he didn’t stop being a member of that family. He may have been a remiss and ungrateful son, he may never have written or come for a visit on the holidays. But he never stopped being a son of that father or a part of that unique family. He could no more deny this family than he could reject his DNA. A person may be a “nonpracticing Catholic” but he is still Catholic.
A major problem arises for such people at those key moments in human life that are just too “big” for anyplace else but a Church. Birth, marriage, death–these are moments when God is no longer escapable! At these times it’s not sufficient merely to receive a birth or death certificate, the event’s got to be put into some far greater context. That’s when the prodigals head for home. The act of coming home is not the same as returning to ask the father for more cash or for mom’s home cooking, not to be heard of again until there’s another need. For many who ask for Baptisms, marriage or the Rite of Christian burial with a Mass, there is every indication that this is intended as a one-time visit. It is difficult for a priest to induct children into a “club” in which her own parents take no significant interest. It’s not that non-practicing Catholics are mean-spirited. It’s just that they are far too busy with what seems like far more important matters than Church.
But if you give the Mass an honest chance—not just the externals but what we allow to transpire within our souls—it can be a joyful reminder that our innermost selves live not merely in our day-to-day involvements but also beyond time and space, right now! If we can just let go the pretenses and defenses, the messed up priorities, we can begin to understand our true selves, members of the Body of Christ, animated by the divine Spirit.
Our Church is undeniably imperfect. John Cardinal Newmann once replied to someone who complained about all the problems in the Church, “You don’t know the half of it!” But as St. Peter said to Jesus when the Church was still a mustard seed, “Lord, to who else can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
If you are a baptized Catholic whose been away from the Sacraments, come home to the Catholic Church. Whether you’ve received the Sacraments or you left before you received the Sacrament of Confirmation, there’s a path ready for you to take. Just call Msgr. Sean Flynn at 732-449-6364 ext. 101 and he’ll give you the directions home. If requested, he will gladly arrange to meet with you privately morning, afternoon or evening. The first step back is up to you.
If you would like to hear how others made the journey, please visit Catholics Come Home.