Supporting Church Parish?!

In normal social life, some people go to the same restaurant every weekend to eat. They would cite some reasons like – the food, good service, close by, feel at home, etc. Some choose to eat at different restaurants to have different tastes and ambience. Some do not go to any restaurant, but like to cook and eat as a family at home.

We could perceive these three types of people going to restaurants in going to the church on weekends also. Some feel the obligation to be at the Mass every weekend; some go occasionally and some don’t go at all. The last two categories are not good for the spiritual growth of the individual and for the community from which they come.

People who are in the church every weekend say: “My family has supported this church from the beginning; I’m happy with my church; it makes me feel good the way the Liturgy is celebrated and there are good sermons applying to my personal and social life, etc.” At the same time, some who attend the church occasionally or seldom say, “Though I don’t attend this church, still I support this church.” While we appreciate their goodness to support the church financially, they fail to understand one important dimension of ‘supporting the church.’

Supporting the church does not mean just your financial support, but your very presence in the church—it makes the difference. A Christian/Catholic comes into the church with all the joys and sorrows, ups and downs, good and bad moods/thoughts, with heavy burdens in the heart, etc. When you worship the Lord as a community in breaking the Word of God and breaking the Living Bread, there is one good thing that takes place in between. Offerings are taken from the worshipers. What does it mean?

Your offering is from your earnings which come from your toil and sweat. Different individuals’ offerings are put together and brought to the altar along with bread and wine for consecration. The priests receives and offers them to God. Your offering is the symbol of your daily aspirations and anguish, gratitude and disappointment – everything is offered to God by the priest on your behalf. So those who don’t attend the church miss this important dimension. They miss such an opportunity to offer themselves to God in this way.

It means to say that you support your church by your presence; it is most valuable and precious. You are in the pews in the company of family members, neighbors, people from the town with whom you grew up and shared many things in the past life. When you go to different churches every week or don’t attend the church you miss this important element in your practice of faith.

The National Conference of US Catholic Bishops wrote in 1994, “The Parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action, and of hope. They are where the gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where believers are formed and sent to renew the earth. Parishes are the home of the Christian community; they are the heart of our church.”

In the Service of the Lord,
   Father Thainese Alphonse



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St. Bernadette Catholic Church