A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Gathering Together

Posted on: April 29, 2013

I remember playing the Payday board game as a child—and as an adult, with my son when he was a bit younger—and noticing that each week ended with “Sweet Sunday,” a day with no bills or town election or bad deals.

People talk a lot about looking forward to Friday or Saturday, mainly because they get a break from the 9 to 5 (or here in this government town, the 8 to 4 or 7:30 to 3:30). But I seldom hear people talk about looking forward to Sunday, other than as a time to do things like sleep in, read the paper, golf, or go for a run.

These are all great ways to relax, and they can be a welcome part of a day of rest. But when my family is driving to church and I think about people spending their whole Sunday in these ways, I can’t help but feel that they’re missing out on a few things by not participating in the life of the faith community:

  • Worshipping God. In a world that urges us to keep our faith to ourselves, there’s something to be said for having a place to sing God’s praises and affirm aloud, with others, the things we believe in and thank the Lord for.
  • Welcoming others into the Church. Witnessing the baptism of babies and young children and seeing adults join the Church through the RCIA program is a joyful experience. And by being a welcoming church, we can encourage the families of those baptized or received into the Church to learn more about the faith.
  • Growing in faith through listening to the readings and homily. Not everyone reads the Bible regularly, so we can benefit from hearing the Bible read aloud. And since and most of us haven’t studied theology, we can learn from listening to the priest explain difficult passages to us in a way we can understand and give us a new perspective on familiar verses.
  • Leaving our cares and concerns with Jesus, and being refreshed to go back out into the world to serve him. Whether we’ve had a great week or one that makes the “Calgon, take me away” commercials seem like a walk in the park, we need that time with God to recharge our batteries and reconnect with the truths of our faith so that we can serve him well.
  • Taking part in ministries that serve the congregation and the wider community. Through our parish, we discover opportunities to share the love of Christ with others, such as seniors living in care homes who appreciate having communion brought to them by pastoral care teams; families who turn to parish food banks; and seminary students or missionary priests our parish supports.
  • Teaching the next generation about the faith. Running the children’s liturgy time, helping with First Reconciliation and First Eucharist services, or assisting with confirmation studies or youth group activities can remind us of the basics and deepen our appreciation of our faith. But more importantly, these activities offer great opportunities to teach and encourage our children and youth so that they grow and remain in the faith rather than be influenced by our culture to see faith as irrelevant.
  • Receiving support from the faith community. The apostle Paul told us in Romans 12:15 to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition). When we’re part of a worshipping community, others are there to celebrate with us when our children are baptized, receive First Eucharist or are confirmed and to pray for us when we’re ill or we suffer a loss such as a death in the family. And when our family might be across the province, across the country, or half a world away, that sense of community is precious.

As s. 2182 of the Catechism tells us, when people worship as a community, “Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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