The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic faith, not warm and fuzzy sermons. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center indicates, perhaps to no surprise, when Americans choose a church they look for one with good preaching and a place that makes them feel welcomed. While without argument these are two redeeming qualities of a worship community, they also indicate how the Catholic Church may have failed in our catechizing the faithful.
For decades, many parishes have tried everything from coffee and donuts after Mass to laughing with a pastor who uses props and jokes at every sermon. While some people may be entertained for a few minutes, history has shown it has not realized good fruit. The reality is this path has not worked in sustaining the Church. Likewise, antics do not arm followers with tools with which to engage worldly challenges. The Church has taught, perhaps unknowingly, but by example, that all it takes to be a disciple is to feel good. How far this is from the Truth.
While a well-prepared and succinctly delivered homily along with a welcoming community will be helpful in bringing people in to the church, it must be the reverence to the sacraments that keeps them there. From the altar to the confessional, the Church must trust God’s grace more than man’s talents. The reverent and sincere celebration of the liturgy (in any form, facing any direction) invokes the Spirit that feeds and fortifies the faithful for the week ahead and will keep them coming back for more.
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