I recently met to plan music for a funeral with a family who has been away from the Church for a long time. Unfortunately, they view the Church as a dictatorship full of rules and regulations they do not understand.
Their Mother passed away and she was the only member of the family who remained Catholic. I do have to say that it was noble of them to honor her wishes and celebrate a funeral for her in her own Church and faith tradition since she had held close to her heart. We did not celebrate a Mass, but we had a Scripture Service with music to pray for the repose of the soul of their Mother.
All of her children are involved in other denominations and all seemed to have their own ideas about what the celebration should be. We tried to be as pastoral as possible to their wishes and desires while not sacrificing Catholic beliefs and traditions. Although they were pleasant, a few things they said really upset me in the meeting and got me thinking that we need to do so much more to share our faith than we do.
There are so many misconceptions out there about what the Church teaches and professes to be true. I am not however naïve, and I do know that there have been many people in the Church who have not practiced what they preached and have let many down and sadly even hurt others in the process. I think if we are honest we can all admit that this sort of thing exists everywhere, in every organization. Most have us have met people who when they find out we are Catholic, they have some story to share about something negative that happened with a Priest or a Nun at a Catholic Church or School they attended in the past. When I hear these sorts of things, I want to say, “Wait! Things have changed! This has not been my experience at all!”
What I really think we can do is be knowledgeable enough about our faith to be able to share what it means to us and why we believe it’s true. Over the next few months we will be implementing the Third Edition of the Roman Missal and we have an amazing opportunity to share our faith, beliefs, and teachings about the the Mass! It is SO misunderstood and we have an unprecedented opportunity to seize the day and witness to everyone about why we do what we do. We’ve talked a lot about education and being prepared, but now’s the time when the rubber meets the road. There are many people who will hear some of the new language in the Liturgy and be critical of it. We’ve got to be prepared to explain it to the best of our ability and to help others pray through it. Non-Catholics will be hearing about it too through the media and possibly their own Churches since many of our prayers will again differ from those of different faiths.
There is a choice to be made here: Support these changes or work against them. We need to take this to prayer and do our part to spread the Good News of Christ to ALL the world and celebrate the greater meaning of the words we will soon speak and pray and why they are so important to us.
The Holy Spirit is moving and we need to not get in the way. Instead let’s allow ourselves to be instruments of hope and healing for those who don’t understand the greatest gift of all: the Eucharist.