“We need to get ‘Back to Basics!'” I see this often in the open-ended comments of the surveys I conduct with parishes. Many of the respondents indicate that either they or people around them need to have a better understanding of the basic building blocks of the faith. Why do we do the things we do at Mass? What do we believe about Jesus Christ as the Son of God? Where does Mary fit? Well, I’m assuming that’s what they typically mean because they don’t quite explain themselves entirely in the comment box. Honestly “Back to Basics” seems similar to saying, “We need to communicate better.” ‘When parishes tell me that I say, “Define ‘communicate’ and define ‘better.'” I’m going to define “basics” even more simply than that though, so let’s get to it.
In the midst of an inability to celebrate public Masses and social distancing this week and in the coming weeks, I wanted to share some ideas for staying connected to parishioners. This is not exhaustive nor the only set of ideas out there, but I believe we can become a stronger community when we face this together without a sense of fear. In Scripture we are told, “Be Not Afraid” more than 365 times! Now is the time to show what our faith means to us, even if we are not gathering for weekly Mass.
If your parish is going to be closed for the next few weeks or months, there are ways available to you to stream the private Masses your pastor might be doing in a way that invites the whole community to worship.
The saints are my primary authority on prayer and finding ways ordinary people grow in holiness. Everyone wants their ministry to be more effective, more successful, and even easier. Sometimes easier isn’t actually better … but I know one thing that can make your ministry better … if only you prioritize the time for it!
We talk about it a lot, but we don’t do enough of it … none of us. Steve Angrisano once said, “We have a lot of near faith experiences in ministry … we’re near a lot of people who have faith experiences.”
I’m reminded of a song that goes “But it’s the little things that make a difference; It’s the little things that show love; It’s the little things. A simple cup of water that can change the world, That can save our sons and daughters” (Little Things by JJ Heller). It is the small things that make a difference in our communities and parish families!
Wrapping up our week about listening with “Listening in Prayer.” The most important listening we do … where we are understood as we listen to the Lord and He listens to us. Don’t skip this post because “you’re prayer life is good” … this podcast episode is fantastic and prayer is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing you do in your ministry!!
Growing together in faith, deepening our prayer life, and being united as a parish community are the goals of most small group programs. Marian Consecration is a great way to revive a century’s old devotion at your parish and start a small group program this fall!
I can’t remember when I learned that the bread and wine actually became the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. I don’t know if there’s been a time when I haven’t believed that, to be honest. That could be because I grew up in a parish school that focused on teaching us the importance of the Mass and provided regular Eucharistic Adoration. It was a teaching that “stuck” for me.
I don’t know if St. Francis de Sales really said this, but a wise youth minister told me once: “You should be making a holy hour every day – and if you don’t have time because you’re too busy – then you should make two.” I’ve also heard “Don’t get too busy doing the Lord’s work that you forget about the Lord.”