It’s difficult to pass by a store during Valentine’s Day season without seeing hearts or red roses in display windows. While its roots are attributed to selfless acts of kindness by St. Valentine in 3rd century Rome, today the holiday has become symbolic of romantic love and a pretext for marketing its trappings.
Celebrating married love with a parish event is a meaningful way to publicly affirm the beauty of this sacrament. It also strengthens couples’ sense of belonging to the parish community.
Being a member of a parish is not the same as belonging to a parish. Being a member is as simple as filling out the registration card. Belonging means being actively involved in the life and spirit of a community.
Topics: Belonging Matters
Welcoming new members and actively engaging current members adds vitality to your parish as the Body of Christ. For parishioners, the experience of belonging to a vibrant parish community offers opportunities to encounter the living Christ and grow in faith. When parish leaders and staff bring this idea to life, they practice everyday evangelization which can lead to greater discipleship among their parishioners.
Topics: Belonging Matters
True Christian hospitality is the opportunity to welcome new people into our community, to help those in need, and to see Christ in all who join or visit our parishes or who live in our neighborhoods or regions. A warm welcome has the power to break down the barriers of class, ethnicity, age, and economic status. Welcome matters!
Topics: Welcome Matters
In The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium), Pope Francis humorously asserts that both the laity and the clergy have been known to suffer from homilies, one from the listening and one from the preaching! In contrast, he maintains that good preaching “can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth” (EG, 135).
Imagine the gifts under a Christmas tree when a large extended family gets together to celebrate. There are presents of all sizes and shapes. There are gifts in a variety of wrappings, some clothed with exquisite paper and delicate ornaments, some bundled in simple brown paper, and some hidden underneath the pile. Guessing what’s inside is one of the most enjoyable parts of the celebration.
As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Lord, parish leaders are busy making many preparations. We know that our churches will be filled with people we may not see on a regular basis. Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to be intentional about welcoming these visitors to our parish. Helping newcomers feel welcomed can make the difference between their staying strangers or becoming members of our community.
“Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
But Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?’ And the angel said to her in reply, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:30-35)
Stories of faith are compelling. Recent studies show that seekers and believers alike need to hear a friend’s faith story to help them encounter Christ or encounter him again in a new and more personal way. People are more willing to listen and be convinced by personal witness than by intellectual rationale.
Topics: Witness Matters