Dear Friends in Christ,
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
Thank you to everyone who made our bazaar such a huge success. I have received wonderful feedback on how great the bazaar was. Obviously, it takes a lot of work and we are blessed with wonderful volunteers and a fantastic staff. In so many ways it felt like things were back to normal for the bazaar – it even rained for a few minutes! The biggest success of the bazaar of course is the fact that we all were able to come together. That is a blessing anytime, but especially after having been unable to do so last year. We had more than 1450 volunteers who helped make the bazaar the wonderful success that it was. It will take it a little while for the final numbers to come in but going into the bazaar we were ahead of 2019 in both sponsorships and the raffle. That is great news for our charities.
We were hoping that the bazaar would be one of the “moments” to aid us in our journey of recovery. Judging from the enthusiasm and the overall spirit of the day, we achieved that goal. As we move forward there remains a great deal of work ahead. As with every struggle there are always blessings to be had if we are open to them. One of the blessings from the pandemic is that it has helped us to refocus on our core purposes. Like many churches, organizations, businesses, and other entities, we were perhaps lulled by the successes we enjoyed in the past. We were a big parish; people came every week and we had big crowds at everything without too much effort. We built it and they came! Now our attendance is down, and many people have not returned to attending weekly Mass. We cannot simply expect or demand that people show up. The world has changed. To be honest, we do not want people “just to show up”. Rather, we desire for ourselves and others something more than just physical attendance. We are now in a position where we certainly want people to attend Sunday Mass, but we must also constantly invite, encourage, and welcome them. We can’t be concerned with “just” numbers. We must be concerned that when people come to Mass, they see and experience the importance of the Eucharist in their lives. Mass cannot just be “going to church”. It should be and can be a living encounter with Jesus Christ in the community of His Church. The grace of this “moment” is for all of us to grow in our love and appreciation of the Holy sacrifice of the Mass. One of the challenges is that if we, ourselves, treat Mass and our belonging to the Church and living the faith as insignificant or of little value or importance, why should anyone else care?
Mass attendance has been declining for 50 years. The pandemic is just one more thing to contribute to this reality. But this crisis is also an opportunity. If we see our participation at the Eucharist and in the life of the parish as essential to who we are, if we live the Mass not only on Sundays but every day, we give witness to the power of God’s love to others. When we live our Catholic faith enthusiastically the faith becomes contagious. If we care and love others, we will not merely lament their absence from our community, we will work to reach out to them so they will experience and possess the wonderful things that we have. Love is desiring and willing good for others. What greater good do we possess than our salvation in Jesus Christ? The gift we have in the Mass is none other than Jesus himself!
This week think of someone you have not seen in a while at church and call them up. See how they are doing. Pray for them. Then invite them to join you at Mass next Sunday. Invite friends and neighbors as well. Our love and our enthusiasm for God and the graces we receive through the sacraments can be the spark to change someone else’s life! Don’t just keep the faith – share the faith! Be the Difference for someone today!
In pace Christi,