Faith to Stone
One of the great challenges of being family is that your children, in-laws and assorted other relatives don’t always turn out like you thought they should. This is particularly true in areas of faith…
…sometimes they just drift away. They become what we call “secularized,” totally consumed with the world out there: money, media, hobbies, occupation and a hundred other things that take the place of prayer, worship and God. Their ethics begin to shift as well, often taking on the guise of “everybody does it” or “get with the times.”
…sometimes they hold on to some semblance of faith, but in a weak or diluted variation. They identify themselves as Catholic and have their babies baptized, but don’t appear for Mass very often. Their most frequent reply when questioned about their faith is, “I don’t really know.” The bulk of information about their faith comes from reading or watching the secular news and accepting its version of what Catholicism is.
…sometimes they become enthusiastic about the faith. They never miss Mass, they pray daily, they are active in ministries at church, they decorate their home with religious art and they even go to confession regularly. As wonderful as this is, it sometimes makes lukewarm parents uncomfortable.
…there may be a number of other categories, but one which can begin to manifest later in adult life can best be described as Faith Turned to Stone. These Catholics would never consider missing Mass. They have a collection of prayers they say (usually rather quickly) every day. They contribute to the parish regularly, but never generously. They never sing at Mass and may/may not respond. Volunteering is not for them. They can never be found at retreats, parish missions or at confession.
The Faith To Stone Catholic can often be identified at Sunday Mass by a sour expression and lack of joy. They’ll give the sign of peace, but they offer no sense of welcome toward other people. The Faith Turned to Stone Catholic falls into that niche perhaps because he never knew anything different. On the other hand, perhaps he was, at one time, enthusiastic or open and was hurt in some way. The wound could have come from death or divorce or anger about the Church’s moral teachings or an offense committed by a member of the clergy or church staff.
These are the true Easter Catholics. It’s not because they worship only on Resurrection Day, but because, as the priest looks out over the congregation, they resemble the immovable stone heads on Easter Island.
And it’s our job to welcome everyone, regardless of their faith category. God welcomes them all…and so can we!