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Why go to Church when I can commune with God out in nature?

Dec 16

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12/16/2018 12:00 AM  RssIcon

The preparations for Christmas are well under way and in a little over a week, everything will be in place! (I let out a little bit of an ‘EKE!’ as I typed this, as I am never ready for the gifts part of Christmas!) At the parishes, we are also well into our preparations for the celebrations of Christ’s Birth and His welcome into our homes at Christmas.

One of the key ways we welcome Jesus at Christmas here at Mass is by welcoming the ‘stranger’ in our midst. As parish staffs, we know that we have more guests in the pews over Christmas and Easter than we do on a weekly basis. The challenge is to see this as an opportunity to welcome Christ and invite that little death to self that comes along with this invitation.

This may seem a little strong, but there is a very real invitation that is made to us in the next week, specifically in how we invite those whom we only see intermittently into a more regular practice of the faith. Our interactions with them, our ability to witness to them the power and conversion of Christ in these small encounters, can go a long way to welcoming them back into a regular relationship with Christ Jesus.

Among young adults of today, a major stumbling block that is present is a disassociation between religion and their faith in God. In other words, there is a growing trend to separate one’s belief in God from the practice of an organized religious faith. (Why go to Church when I can commune with God out in nature?)

I will address this challenge in my homily over the Christmas holidays, but we all have a challenge and responsibility to address that false dichotomy that continues to grow in our culture. If that seems like too big a task, it can be as easy as developing your own 60 second elevator speech as to why you find it important to come to Mass on a week by week basis.

Because what I have come to know is that everyone expects me, as the priest, to have this little spiel ready. But when you, as a parishioner, have it ready and going, you speak with a greater authority than I do. And a greater testimony to those who are surprised by your testimony.

This time of year is a beautiful time of year in our Church. And we celebrate such wonderful and intimate mysteries about how God desires to bring us all to salvation and joy. The more we can all witness and share that joy with the people in our midst, the more there is to celebrate and rejoice over.

As Mary and Joseph were courageous in accepting the invitations given to them by the Angels, may we all be courageous in accepting these small invitations to make Jesus known in the context of the Church during our own day and age.

God Bless,
Fr. Kyle Schnippel


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