Why I Don't Go to Church…

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Dear POP Folks,
 
This holiday time of the year (which began in the stores shortly after the Fourth of July) also is a faith season.   We have the traditional debates (Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays), the shopping (launched in earnest a week before Black Friday), the busyness (parties, taxes, semester projects) and, we pray, a maybe little cold and some dreams of snow.

The faith aspect encompasses many people returning to church through confession, Mass and prayer.   It also includes the Great Debate:  Why do I have to go to church if I already believe in God?  This is a question that becomes more energized as parents and grandparents visit non-practicing children and other relatives.

For the faith-full faithful, the best message you bring is the one you live.  Pray for your family members, let them see that YOU are a more joyful, accepting person because of YOUR faith and invite them, gently, to come along if you are heading for church.

Some of the standard replies to this invitation are predictable.  A parishioner recently sent me the following list of “why I’m not going to church” excuses as applied to an athletic event…

1.  The coach never came to visit me.
2.  Every time I went, they asked me for money.
3.  The people sitting in my row didn't seem very friendly.
4.  The seats were very hard.
5.  The referees made a decision I didn't agree with.
6.  I was sitting with hypocrites—they only came to see what others were wearing!
7.  Some games went into overtime and I was late getting home.
8.  The band played some songs I had never heard before.
9.  The games are scheduled on my only day to sleep in and run errands.
10.  My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
11.  Since I read a book on sports, I feel that I know more than the coaches, anyway.
12.  I don’t want to take my children because I want them to choose for themselves what sport they like best.

Share this around.  Don’t be mean, nasty, superior, judgmental, prideful or all those other things that drive people away from church.  

Actually, you may want to distribute this to several people, including daily-Mass- goers and never-Mass-goers.  Also, anybody addicted to ESPN…

Finally, you and I must never forget that our smiles, our prayers, our welcome are the only tools God has to reach the sheep who have strayed.  For us, He’s happy we’re here and he loves us completely.   For them, he can’t wait to welcome them back so that all heaven can have a grand party (Luke 15:7).
 
Happy Holidays Christmas,
Father John