Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reflections on C and Es

Before I met my wife, I had never heard the term "C and Es" before. For those who may be as unfamiliar with the term as I was, it is shorthand for "Christmas and Easter" Catholics, that is, those who only attend mass at those holy days.

Such people are what are commonly referred to as "cultural Catholics," or what I have called "heirloom Catholics." While the fact that some people go to mass only on Easter and Christmas and don't attend the rest of the year is certainly tragic, this situation also offers hope. True, their Catholicism is something apart from them rather than integrated into their lives. However, they do have this tug, this tie, to something that they don't understand, and they still retain the sense that there is something important about their Catholicism.

That faint light can be used to show them the way to the full glory of The Light of World. Rather than referring to such people as "Christmas and Easter" Catholics, perhaps we should change the "C and E" to stand for "Come and Encounter." Those of us who attend mass regularly need to invite and catechize those who do not attend regularly. Catholics who can stay away from the mass do not understand what the mass is, or they would move heaven and earth to be at mass regularly. Rather than looking at the speck in their eyes, perhaps we need to think about the log in our eyes; what are we not doing to help our brothers and sisters see what they are missing? Are we showing them what they can encounter at mass? Do our lives and words reflect the joy, the transformation that is the Eucharist and the Gospel? Are we welcoming?

How did Jesus welcome the woman taken in adultery, or the Samaritan woman at the well? With truth and love.

What did the Samaritan woman do after speaking with Jesus? She left her water jar (that is how excited she was) and went into the city telling people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (John 4:29). Are we that excited about what we have found in Jesus? Do we invite others to "Come" to Him?

Let us pray to Jesus for the words, the courage, the humility, to invite others to Come and Encounter Him.

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