Yesterday’s beautiful feast of Corpus Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ) allows us to renew our commitment to making Sunday Mass the priority of our Catholic life, of every parish family.
One of the valuable lessons we’re learning from Making All Things New, our strategic pastoral planning initiative, is that people want a reverent, uplifting, joyful, welcoming, meaningful Sunday Mass. They crave good lectors, inspirational (not overdone) music and singing, and a solid, succinct (i.e., short) sermon. They want to participate – – ushers, offertory procession, lectors, choir, servers, trained Extraordinary Eucharistic ministers (where called for and allowed by liturgical law), and some fellowship afterwards. They love seeing and greeting their priests and deacons. Our people tell us they appreciate sensitivity to ethnic needs (Masses available in languages needed by parishioners). They also tell us they don’t like “long” Masses (over an hour) cluttered by extraneous stuff (too much added verbiage from priests, deacons, lectors, and in the announcements, or too many “gimmicks”).
Although the outcome of our planning is far from over, it’s already clear that, if a parish is alive and stable, we know it makes Sunday Mass, as described above, the priority.
Over the next weeks, many of our priests will be “on the move,” to new assignments. Most of them know from experience that they have to make Sunday Mass the priority in their new parish, as they did in their old one.
Studies are showing us that parishes with a reverent, quality, participative Sunday Mass, with a solid (short) sermon, report large numbers, good stewardship, (high collections!), many new members and converts for the RCIA, effective programs of service and community outreach, vocations, keeping the youth involved, and engendering parish loyalty. Not bad!
Savvy pastors – – I’m trying to be one, like most of my priests and deacons – – know that the parish is the front line of the Church. And the most significant event in the life of any parish is Sunday Mass.
Let’s do it!