Years ago I was speaking with a lady who had just retired. I suggested she might like to visit some of the elderly and lonely in the parish. She laughed. She wanted to enjoy her retirement, she said, and she didn’t fancy visiting. A few years later she was ill and I was bringing her Holy Communion. She told me no one from the church had come to see her. What sort of a parish were we? People like you, I thought.
If you don’t visit who will want to visit you? As I visit our homes, care homes and nursing homes, so many lonely, I wonder if they visited when they were able to? If they didn’t they can’t grumble now that no one wants to visit them.
Do we depend upon family and friends, parish, care workers, local authority? Unless we have given do we have the right to expect to receive?
Ours is a good parish, I am constantly told. Look at all that goes on: mass every day, retreat evenings of prayer and reflection, meditation and prayer groups, ecumenical meetings and prayer, Blessed Sacrament Chapel open each day, Question of faith discussions, social events, children’s liturgy, pilgrimages to holy places, church choirs and music, St Joseph’s Table, our charity and mission works. Wonderful!
Yes, but how well is all that good work supported? Organisation and hard work are required for anything to succeed. Truly, how much do you, reading this letter, contribute? How much have you been involved? To be critical of lack of support or lack of interest is a healthy reaction if it leads to doing something: but if it only settles at the grumble level it is just bad mood and sour grapes.
Today is a day of prayer for vocations in the Church. What is your vocation in the Church? Does it include the parish? Is it only going to mass on Sunday? Do you criticise others for not being involved or interested?
Our parish, like a number of the Leicester parishes, is made up of a large number of small communities from around the world. Whatever is organised may appeal only to a small number -unless we are open-minded to being “church” and then we can be interested for the sake of others. Please come to the next evening of prayer, the next ecumenical service, the next social event, the next discussion meeting, mass during the week, visit the chapel, etc.
Don’t say people don’t go out in the evenings. They do. Don’t say people who work have no time. They have. Don’t say people who have retired have all the time. They haven’t. We make time for those we love – God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s vocation – making time to love and serve God and others.
God bless you, loving fellow servants,
(8th May 2017)