Sunday, January 23, 2011
In the Archdiocese of Boston today is "Evangelization Sunday" and all parishes were asked to play a video of a homily given by our Archbishop, Cardinal Sean O'Malley (see above - I regret that Vimeo loads so slowly).
His talk invites those who are already active church-goers to prepare for the program Catholics Come Home which will commence this Lent in March.
Pastors were asked to introduce the video after the proclamation of the gospel and to offer some closing comments after it was played. I introduced the video with a reference to our opening song this weekend, "We Are Called" and a tie-in to sharing the light promised in Isaiah today and the gospel's invitation to become fishers of men and women for the Lord. I noted that just as Zebedee was a partner with his two sons, all Christians are called to share in this "family business" of casting our nets to bring in a catch of brothers and sisters for Christ's reign over our hearts.
After the video, I spoke words to this effect:
Have I ever told you how happy I am not to be the Archbishop of Boston? I don't envy the Cardinal's position any day of the week and certainly not this morning - his is a difficult job and he has many critics. This video isn't perfect and I'm sure we would have a great discussion critiquing it but I'm going to ask you to put aside your criticism for the moment and focus on the message the Cardinal shared with us and the need for us to reach out to Catholics who aren't part of our parish and its prayer and life.
I've read that one segment of Catholics have stopped coming to Mass because they are angry with the Church - over the sex abuse crisis or other issues. Another segment of Catholics who aren't with us have left because they disagree strongly on one more more teachings of the Church. (And it's likely that every week there are among our most faithful worshipers some who are both angry and in disagreement with the Church - and who remain faithful to our parish prayer and life.)
But even if you add together those who are angry and have left and those who dissent and have left, their numbers do not add up to the largest group who are not with us: those who are neither angry nor in doctrinal disagreement but for whom church life has simply fallen off their radar screen.
We all know people in all three groups. I hope the television and radio ads will be effective but I'm convinced that the most important part of this effort will be the conversations all of you have with family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors as part of the Catholics Come Home campaign. I'm not asking you to preach on street corners but I will be asking you in the weeks ahead to spend some time thinking about why YOU are here every week... why YOU worship and participate in parish life... what difference the parish and its prayer makes in YOUR week, your days, your heart, your life... and to think of simple, casual ways to share that with others.
It's not unusual for pastors to receive audio and video materials for use at Mass. In 37 years as a priest, this is the first one I've used. And I'm sharing this with you because I believe the need in this area is so great and I believe that Catholics Come Home can make a difference in peoples' lives and in the life of our parish.
In a few moments we'll singing, "Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore." It follows well on today's gospel passage and I ask you to sing it while envisioning the Lord coming to each of us (as he came to Peter, Andrew, James and John), coming to the shores of our lives and inviting us to follow him and to take our part in the "family business," fishing for our brothers and sisters and calling them to come home to the family table, the Altar at the heart of our prayer and our life.
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Posted by Austin Fleming at 2:00 PM