Welcoming Others at the Lord’s Table

There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about our parish’s hospitality.  In my view, we have come a long way in the last few years.  Our Welcoming Committee greets each of our new members.  Our Hospitality Ministers greet parishioners as they enter and leave the church.  But with a parish of 1200 families, it’s hard to get to everyone, or even make everyone happy.  But if everyone tries to be friendly to those around them, attitudes can be changed.

At one of our recent adult education classes, the phrase “open table fellowship” was used.  It made me think….When we celebrate Mass, we are coming to the Lord’s table to share in the body and blood of Christ.  At His table, all are welcome – none are turned away.  So why do we turn away from our fellow diners without a word of welcome?  Just as we invite our friends, family, and neighbors into our homes and seat them around our table with words of welcome and thanksgiving, so we should welcome our fellow parishioners as we all gather at the Lord’s table.

So I challenge everyone to be more welcoming to those you meet.  A smile, a handshake, a simple “Hello” can go a long way to being a hospitable parish.  Hospitality can increase our membership and make those who may have been away from the Church for a while feel welcomed back.

Searching for Meaning

What does the Mass mean to you?  To some, coming church is what they are expected to do at Christmas and Easter.  To others, it’s where they go on Sundays because that’s what they’ve always done.  Yet to others, coming to church is a way to be a member of a living, breathing entity that has existed for over 2,000 years.  There’s no right answer to this question, because a person can have each one of those opinions at different times in their life.

The Catholic Church is all of the above.  It is a body of worshippers who come together to celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  It is a venue for fellowship and socializing.  It is a place to go when you are seeking answers.  It is a family brought together by a common purpose, a common faith.

The central point of our mass is the Eucharist.  To Catholics everywhere, the Eucharist and wine are the body and blood of Christ – it’s not a symbol – it is Christ’s gift to us every time Mass is celebrated.  It’s part of what unites us as Catholics.  Our mass is where we come together.  We gather with our friends, family, and neighbors.  We are joined by the communion of saints to proclaim our unity with each other and to share in the Eucharistic feast at the Lord’s table.

Sister Cheryl is leading a book study on Ron Rohlheiser’s book Our One Great Act of Fidelity: Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist.  It’s an easy read and discusses the author’s journey in discovering what the Eucharist means to him.  I have found it to be a very powerful book and it has given me many opportunities to think and to figure out my relationship with the Eucharist.

I have been on my own journey to rediscover/reaffirm/understand my faith.  I’m in no way perfect, or an expert on how someone should go about doing this.  However, I have a questioning spirit and am always seeking answers.  I have been attending the classes offered by our parish staff during this Lenten season.  These classes have afforded me the opportunity to learn about the beginnings of the Catholic Church, the mysteries of our faith that I didn’t learn earlier in life (or learned and have forgotten), and the opportunity to talk to other members of the parish who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences.  This is invaluable to me.

My challenge to myself is to truly ponder what the Eucharist means in my life.  I am trying to take the time to think about the beauty and history reflected in our Mass, and to think about what the Church (as an organization, as a body of worshippers, as a faith) means to me.

I invite others to join me on this journey.  Learn everything you can.  Ask the questions you need to when you are unsure.  Become involved – attend classes, discover adoration, come to Communal Penance.