Monday, February 16, 2015

THE WELCOMING CHURCH: COMMON SENSE AND PRUDENCE

I don't know about your parish, but we don't have anyone at our entrances to keep people out. We get all kinds of people coming into our church to visit and attend Mass and other types of liturgical services. Non Catholics and agnostics and atheists are most welcome!

No one is questioned about their sexual idenitity, how much money they have or don't have and a part from requiring shoes and shirts, no tank tops and Daisy Duke shorts and bare midrifts, out dress code is pretty flexible.

We do make it clear by the written word in our missalette that only practicing Catholics free of mortal sin should receive Holy Communion after a fast of one hour prior to Holy Communion. However this is all on the honor system. If someone is in a state of mortal sin, most people would not know or care if they were to receive Holy Communion.

So, just how unwelcoming are Catholic Churches? Catholics should know that even if they are excommunicated, they may attend Mass but should not receive Holy Communion. The same is true concerning mortal sin. Non Catholics may not receive Holy Communion.

I think the only time that we might have to intervene and say "don't do it anymore" is when someone wears offensive slogans on their clothes that have no place in a public place let alone a church.

Recently as I was doing a morning walk on my vacation, I saw on the back of a tee shirt an very offensive slogan about the body part of the young man running in front of me and what he desired people to do to it.  Should we welcome him in our church with that tee shirt and its slogan? It was an obscene comment.

If someone is turning the reception of Holy Communion into a political act or a statement against the Church, should we not make clear what the Church teaches and politely ask the one being so offensive not to do it anymore even at the risk of making him or her feel unwelcome?

I know of many sinners who know they are sinners and when they enter the Church they kneel at the last pew and pray quietly to themselves, "have mercy on me a sinner." They don't flaunt their sins and ask that their sins be accepted. They have a right to be accepted though for the opporutnity to receive God's grace that will lead to repentance of sin and new life in Christ.

Thank God for the Sacrament of Penance. Chirst always welcomes the repentant sinner desiring to be made perfect by God's grace.

What do you think?

27 comments:

JBS said...

Agreed. It is a fiction that Catholic parishes do not welcome divorced, contracepting, sodomizing, prostituting tax collecting sinners. We welcome them in the confessional, thereby offering them the very best gift they can receive: a clean soul fit to receive the Substance of God.

Cletus Ordo said...

"Welcoming" is a bit of an odd word when applied to the Catholic Church these days. A large number of gay and gay-friendly clergy have used the term to designate what kind of parish church they think they should have. Gays have also asserted that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was the failure to "welcome" Abraham. If that's not enough, many churches have been needlessly renovated (read: WRECKOVATED) by removing the stately looking doors, often engraved, with glass-doors such as you would see in an industrial park or office building because such bland doors supposedly look "more welcoming". And finally, we have the smiley-smarmy greeters that some parishes assign to greet you at the door with a loud, friendly-sounding "Hello" as you are trying to recollect yourself for Mass.

I have never felt unwelcome in the Catholic Church. I have been made to feel unwelcome in one parish I can think of, and that is only by a select few people who mistakenly think of it as their private club.

If we are properly catechized, we should know that we are welcome in any and every Catholic Church. I like to think of the story that begins Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, when Jean Valjean is welcomed by the humble bishop to dine with him. The bishop tells him, "I knew your name when you got here: It is Brother."

We are all sinners in need of God's mercy. If that doesn't make us brothers and sisters welcome in His house, then nothing else will.

Jdj said...

I not only think, I know I have been that sinner in the very last pew, praying: "Have mercy on me, a sinner..." Sometimes I have had to wait for the humility needed to make a good confession, not just a cursory one.
And I thank God every day for His mercy.

Carol H. said...

Maybe clean overshirts and wrap around skirts should be made available to borrow for Mass, to cover naked bellies, offensive shirts, mini skirts, and short shorts. They can be deposited into a laundry bin upon exiting the church.

We can welcome the individuals without welcoming their non-verbal messages.

Gene said...

"Welcome" does not mean approve of their behavior or accept their abominations. A lot of Catholics and lib Priests get confused about that.

John Nolan said...

The most welcoming Catholic churches are those where nobody bothers you. The 11 o'clock Solemn Latin Mass at the London Oratory is very popular and you need to arrive early to get a seat anywhere near the front. Sometimes the previous Mass has not quite finished, which necessitates waiting in a side aisle.

There is no 'Offerte vobis pacem', you go up for Communion in your own time (kneeling at the rail) and if you prefer to wander off and make your thanksgiving at one of the numerous side altars you will find plenty of other people praying and lighting candles.

Neither before nor after Mass is there any chatting - people do their socializing outside the church and there are always one or two of the Fathers there.

JBS said...

Cletus Ordo,

They're right: the visitors to Sodom and Gomorrah were sodomized, thereby making them feel unwelcomed. Sodomizing visitors sends a fairly clear message.

John said...

A Church with a Tabernacle in which Jesus is present has a permanent Greeter! It is only in Protestant church buildings that greeters make sense.

In Europe greeters are not posted at church doors. They may be faithless but retain traditions better than us.

A lack of awareness of the reserved sacrament and Who that is why some want to be welcomed at the door.

Bill Meyer said...

I am sorry to say that I recently saw someone at Mass in my parish sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with some sort of "zombie apocalypse" message.

Whatever happened to "Sunday best"?

Anonymous said...

Our pastor up here in Atlanta reminds us during the summer, we're still able to pay the air conditioning bill, so no need to show up like you are headed to the nearby pool party!!! Leave the shorts and flip-flops behind...and if you are headed to the pool party after Mass, then chance clothes at the party!

I would be hesitant to welcome any Catholic federal judges who are undermining traditional marriage, much as we unfortunately see these days in neighboring Alabama, which voted 81 percent against same-sex marriage in 2006 or there abouts. 81 percent...Alabama is not 81 percent Republican so that represented a broad swath of the state. Wouldn't be ironic if, when the Supreme Court rules on same sex marriage in May, a majority Catholic court votes to impose it on our country?!?

Henry said...

JBS: "the visitors to Sodom and Gomorrah were sodomized, thereby making them feel unwelcome."

They may have felt unwelcome, but were they really unwelcome? Surely there's too much emphasis nowadays on perceived personal feelings, as opposed to the reality of situations.

But as for feelings, I myself feel offended every time I see one of these ostentatious "welcomers" before Mass at the front door of a church, thinking . . . Just who does he think he is, welcoming me to the house where God Himself resides. Surely this "welcomer" doesn't think he himself is God.

At any rate, I would have felt better back when it was explicit that only baptized Catholics in good standing were welcome to stay for the Mass of the Faithful after the conclusion of the Mass of the Catechumens (aka Liturgy of the Word in the Novus Ordo).

Gene said...

JBS, Isn't sodomy a sacrament in the Episcopalian church?

Joe Potillor said...

John Nolan says: "The most welcoming Catholic churches are those where nobody bothers you"

Amen, I love NOT being bothered, that makes me feel welcome. I'm welcome to pray in peace without interruption. If I wish to socialize, I'll do so after Mass/Divine Liturgy in the hall.

Paul said...

More "wordsmithing" from those whose agenda is to try to change and distort Christ's Church.

"Unwelcoming" is code-speak for "bigoted, stone age, haters with an out-of-touch belief system".

Non-Catholics can go to any Mass of choice -- just dress reasonably, respect the proceedings (liturgy) and refrain from accepting the precious host and blood.

This whole "welcoming" business has nothing to do with politeness, greetings or even love. It has everything to do with subversion of Christ's teaching and authority and hammering Christ's Church into the image of the sinner.

Paul said...

Anonymous,

For Catholics, we seem to live in an age where picking and choosing words and actions "privately" and "publicly" so as to not "publicly impose" Catholic teaching rules the day and Catholic politicians and judges think that the presence of legitimate rule (The Constitution) can spare them at Final Judgement.

Sometimes it's not even that schizophrenic: "privately and publicly permit" and that's it. The dilemma of "publicly impose" becomes a non-issue.

The reasoning behind many of these sweeping changes is the same: "cannot discriminate thus must make equal". That reasoning can be applied to anything or anyone that can be discerned now and in the future. Those who say: "it'll never come to that" haven't lived long enough.

Expressions of possible consequences are summarily dismissed as "slippery slope" or "straw man". The fact that, often, we do eventually slip down the slope and that the straw man becomes flesh and bone are long forgotten in the rush to Utopia.

Anonymous said...

John-Boy, you should read the CCC starting at about 1144.

You can do your private praying any way you choose, but celebrating the Eucharist is NOT a private, but a COMMUNITY event.

John Nolan said...

Anonymous @ 6:23

It depends what you mean by a community event. A Mass celebrated sine populo is still a manifestation of the public worship of the Church, and is effective ex opere operato.

The problem is that too many people nowadays regard the Mass as nothing more than a community event, which shows they have little comprehension of its meaning and purpose.

JBS said...

Gene,

It's only a sacramental.

JBS said...

Anonymous,

Yes, Mass is a sacrificial event in communion with Heaven, Purgatory and the faithful on Earth. Therefore, as a member of this community, John Nolan need not be welcomed as if he were a guest. Rather, he and others should be allowed to speak and listen to God and the saints, who form the bulk of the community.

Henry said...

Anonymous,

Let me suggest that you might understand the concept of "community" in worship if you went back and studied CCC 1137-1141. There you will learn that the community celebrating the Eucharistic sacrifice is the whole Body of Christ (1140), the community of all the baptized (1141)--which includes those in heaven, on earth, and in purgatory--not merely those few who happen to be physically present at a particular re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross at an altar here below.

You and I were welcomed once and for all into this community when we were baptized. It is not only unnecessary but supercilious for someone standing at the entrance to a church building to presume to do this again.

As it is for someone to tell you or me how we personally can best participate in the worship of this community—the communion of saints--for instance, whether by internal action or otherwise as we individually choose.

Catechist Kev said...

Here is a piece over at Crisis that is somewhat related to this topic.

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/liturgical-wisdom-mouths-children?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CrisisMagazine+%28Crisis+Magazine%29

Here is a comment by a fellow named Dan that fits this thread:

"My experience is that some of the "welcoming" parishes are in fact the most unwelcoming. Basically you are "welcome" to accept their liturgical improvisations and "welcome" to laugh at the priest's corny jokes. You are "welcome" to hold hands during the Our Father and carry on like your team just scored the winning touchdown at the sign of peace.
Try reverently folding your hands, bowing during the words of the Incarnation in the creed, receive Communion on the tongue, or kneel and pray a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass, (nothing that "extreme", just following the proscribed norms and a minimal due reverence to God) and you will quickly see how "unwelcoming" such a parish actually is."

Catechist Kev

Gene said...

JBS, Thank you for the clarification…Episcopalian theology an be so confusing.

rcg said...

Gene, only for the Navy chaplains. It is the officer's closet must be large to hold the 50 shades of white needed for their discipline effort.

Gene said...

RCG, I don't much about squid discipline. I suppose it involves, in Churchill's famous quip about the two greatest traditions of the Royal Navy, "rum and sodomy."

rcg said...

I thought he included "the lash" in the Naval traditions. I saw Bartok's 'Bluebeard's Castle' last weekend. I have no plans to see Fifty Shades unless I wake up in Guantanimo with my eyes taped open, but I think it was a very adult treatment of a dysfunctional relationship and had the right view of how those things end. The story, by the way, was written by Charles Perrault, who wrote several famous fairy tales with moral messages. It was titilating with a profound answer that we all knew was coming.

Gene said...

RCG, Then there was the knight who slew a dragon that was threatening the kingdom. The King gave the knight the choice of sleeping with any one of his three beautiful daughters…a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. Do you know which daughter the knight choose?

He chose none of them…he slept with the King. This is a "fairy" tale.

John Nolan said...

Although Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, was in charge of the Navy at the start of both World Wars, he had no direct experience of the sea service.

Sodomy was rare; it would have been difficult to conceal in the open and crowded living spaces of a man o' war and in the 18th century was the only crime which invariably attracted the death penalty, such was the revulsion against it in the Service.

The lash (in the form of the cat o' nine tails) was discontinued in the 19th century although corporal punishment for juveniles, particularly in shore training establishments, survived into the second half of the 20th.

The rum ration was abolished in 1970, although it was available in the army on request. I remember a training exercise on Salisbury Plain in the mid-1970s where the weather was particularly foul. The Admin. Officer, having consulted Queen's Regulations, successfully indented for it (the indent had to be countersigned by the Medical Officer). We added the rum to the tea, and very welcome it was too.