As I mentioned in last week’s bulletin I’d like for us to look more closely at our parishes’ Sunday experience. As St. John Paul II said, among the many activities of a parish, “none is as vital or as community-forming as the Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day.” Today, I want to share with you some more thoughts about why the Sunday experience ought to become part of our focus to revitalize our parishes. Pope Francis said in Evangelii Gaudium that “if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be ‘the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters’” (Evangelii Gaudium, 28). When we look at the particulars of the Sunday experience we are talking about Hymns, Homilies, and Hospitality.
I know that for some of us our Sunday experience is “good enough”. Some might comment that we have the Eucharist at Mass and ask, “Why do we have to have anything else?” Some might even say that Mass is not a social club or that it isn’t meant to be entertaining. Another comment might be that the Church in her glory days 50 years ago was packed and we didn’t worry about any of this stuff.
How do we respond to these questions and comments? First of all, we need to think about our parish church like we think about our home. When we invite people to our homes, do we warmly receive them at the door or do we ignore them? When we play music in our homes to lift our spirits, do we settle for the mediocre or do we try to find the best songs and musicians to fit that bill? When we want to fill our hearts and minds with meaningful and relevant messages for our life’s journey, do we search out the best books to read and movies to watch or do I settle for trashy television or only read the comics? Even when we indulge in sports, are we not also searching for the bigger story or lesson of life?
So I ask the question—why do we search out the best for our lives and our homes, but don’t always seek out and strive for the best at Sunday Mass, which is the most important hour of our whole week? Moreover, we wouldn’t do business with a bank that didn’t strive to offer the best possible service, so why would anyone want to be more engaged in our parish if we constantly settle for mediocrity or minimalism? “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Let’s not be miserable and mediocre.