Meet People Where They Are
Oct 8, 2018
I received an anonymous note in such a manner that the writer would not even spend money on a postage stamp. The note was basically an article cut out of a paper in which the writer (Fr. Michael Miller) answers the question “ when does Mass begin and end”. The note producer highlights a part of the answer : ”At the beginning of Mass the priest reverences the altar by kissing it......my suggestion and challenge is for everyone to be in their pew five minutes before Mass begins, that is, before the priest begins the procession. One may incredulously ask “what are we to do for so long? The answer is to prepare for the Mass. And we prepare through prayer. It is a time to become attentive and ready. We do so by contemplating what we about to do and what God is about to do in our midst.” The author of the note then writes to me, “imagine hearing this from the pulpit-an actual teaching moment”.
Fr. Miller’s answer is a good and appropriate answer, however I would not feed it to our congregation because answers such as these lead us to begin judging each other for not doing what we are “supposed” to do. I have been encouraging everybody to stop judging Jesus. Our savior called Matthew the tax collector as he was collecting taxes for the Romans. He stopped beneath the sycamore tree to call Zacheus to climb down the tree and spend time with him. If this is what Jesus does why would we think it is ok to judge someone for coming to Mass late or leaving early? We do not know the person’s reasons for doing what they do.
The Christian community should be noted for its kindness to each other and its welcome of strangers. This is how the early Church was described and it attracted many new members because of that attitude. As the Church institutionalized the rules became more important and I believe it has made the Church less attractive to many. Church teaching is good, but never to be used as a hammer against another. I would say to the author of the anonymous note to me: apply this to your life and do not worry about the others.