Belonging Leads to Commitment

    Men of goodwill debate that in the past few decades our culture is starved for lack of authentic community, a sense of belonging. Belongingness is the state or quality of belonging. It is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, a religion or a sports team, humans have an inherent desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. Abraham Maslow describes hierarchical needs and wants in one's life. He puts belongingness next to the basic needs of air, water and food.

      A few decades ago, for Catholics everything was church; Church was their second family. Now the same kind of emotional attachment is not there. Astonishingly, Church membership is declining at precisely the time when we need one another the most. As a result, a paradigm shift is seen in their commitment to the church. By and large, people throw the blame on the culture. I shall briefly state a few reasons which may help you all to reflect further, understanding that this is not pertaining to everyone.

    For want of better jobs, people relocate 3 to 5 times in their life time and their relationships become fragile with the community they are located, not knowing how long they would be there. When a loved one has died the kith and kin would have a wake service and the next day a solemn burial Mass was conducted. Now the funeral is done within a half day. An apparent reason is that children live in many parts of the country or in other countries. They just come and finish and go back. When a sense of community is lacking, commitment will not be there.

    People have preferred to live as individualistic. 'I take care of myself and I need not worry about anything or anybody.' In this modern time, this is the mentality operating in majority of modern man. Social media is largely to be blamed for this status. You get everything at your door such as food, goods and what not?

    Gun and drug culture has dangerously become 'popular'. People are almost afraid of each other. Therefore, people shut their doors and disconnect any physical contact with even neighbors. When there is no relationship with others there cannot be commitment.

    As there are many Masses in the churches, people choose to be at one Mass to their convenience and they are totally disconnected with those who are attending other Masses. After Mass many tend to rush back home or anywhere they have already planned. When there is no socializing with others there won't be belongingness and commitment.

    This is the age of many choices. People choose to live anywhere they want, not exactly just in one village/town community. Some also prefer to live by the side of highways. To attend Sunday liturgy they often prefer to go to any church they want, instead of the same church on every weekend. Their belongingness is pertaining to some close friends or their family members. When belongingness is lacking there is no commitment.

    Some parents fail to keep their children connected to the Church. The importance given to any other social activities or sports is not given to practice of faith. Religious education has also become negotiable in most families. The children are not able to understand the importance of God and Church in their lives. Because of this, children are unable to make a connection and commitment to any church.

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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