Just an Invitation!
The Catholic Church is the One, True Church; it is as old as Christianity. We have many things to be proud of and many things to feel good about. For example, we have beautiful, meaningful and prayerful liturgy. For some, participating in the liturgy is heaven. Yes, it is true. But there is also a sad part of our story--church membership is not growing; in the past 4 decades church membership has dwindled. Some have stopped attending church; some go to other churches (non-denominational churches).

These non-denominational churches are mushrooming. What is the cause for it? A commonly agreed upon answer is that they are evangelical and missionary. They are reaching, stretching, finding, touching, and drawing in those who are in need of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, those who may not have even realized it yet.

They are not growing because of their programming or preaching, buildings, video screens or their pastors. They are growing primarily because their members are actively inviting others to join them in worship. 80% of all first-time visitors to a church come because a friend or neighbor invited them. It's the active verb...inviting, reaching, gathering… which makes all the difference. One little known fact about these churches is that more than 25% of their members are former Catholics whom nobody in their former parishes actively invited to the liturgical celebrations and whom nobody involved in various church ministries.

The gospel tells us that John and Andrew are the first disciples who stayed with Jesus. Andrew went and shared his experience with Jesus with his brother, Peter, and affirmed that he had found the Messiah, and he brought Peter to Jesus; he also became a disciple of Jesus (Jn 1:35-42). Later Peter became the head of the apostles. Why don’t you become an ‘Andrew’ and invite a person who is away from the church? Who knows he/she might become an important person in the church at some time? In the same way, Philip after following Jesus, invited Nathanael to Jesus (Jn 1:45).

It all depends upon our willingness and interest in sharing our faith experience with our own family member, a friend or a person who is addicted to some evil habits and away from mainstream life. Please remember that those people are just waiting for such an invitation. Your ‘just’ invitation might transform someone’s life.

We are going to celebrate Christmas in a few days. How could I lead others to Christ at this Christmas? I request each one of you to take it as a challenge - ‘I will bring a person to church this Christmas.’

In the Service of the Lord,
Father Thainese Alphonse

Copyright ©2003
St. Bernadette Catholic Church