Date: 4/21/2003 6:31:42 PM
Name or Pseudonym: newbie
This is not very insigthful, but...
Try attending some of the other parishes in your area. One mass on one Sunday out of a year is not going to give you a good sense of the parish, but it should prove to be very interesting. Certainly explore other parishes BEFORE you go exploring other "faiths", if youre inclined to visit other faiths at all. Explore the variety of Catholicism!
That sure sounds like a very long time at your home parish, which is wonderful, but be careful not to get tunnel vision. I love (and support) my home parish, but Ive certainly been around town -- and havent even begun to scratch the surface. Seeing the variety also helps to clarify what is the core of our faith, and also gives a fresh perspective on familiar concepts.
We feed off of each other for faith -- from the sure and innocent faith of a young child to the learned and practiced faith of an experienced priest well-steeped in spirituality. It is absolutely essential to KNOW that WE MATTER in church. While Im not buddy-buddy with my priest, I know that he knows me by name, and I believe that he actually looks for me at mass. (And I change where I sit to make it more fun.) In truth, our priests NEED us to be at mass to share our faith, as much as we need them to celebrate the mass. Our priests need us to encourage them from time to time as well, to know that THEY MATTER to us. We need each other for that sense of togetherness, community, family, and unity.
Somewhere in the RCIA process, the candidates and catechumens are asked, "What do you ask of the Church?" And the answer is "Faith." If your faith is not fed by your parish, I feel that it is your duty to find a parish that does. Be careful that you do not drain yourself at your parish. Volunteer only to the point that you can be cheerful and energetic at your task. Beyond that, we have a task to bring Christ to the world outside of the church; a task that is less structured and more subtle, and equally important.
Bottom line: explore! And God Bless you!