Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
July 15, 2007
A Drive-by Filling Station? Last weekend I was fortunate enough to travel to Connecticut for a “graduation” of sorts and during the ceremony the speaker said something that struck me profoundly. As a priest he has had the opportunity to serve as pastor to several parishes. It has struck him that many parishes have become little more than drive-by Gas Stations. Parishioners drive in on the weekend or at least on occasion, “fill up” and go. The point he was making is that too many Catholics are no longer fully engaged and/or committed to their faith.
Comparing people to cars and a church to a filling station can initially strike us as silly or even debasing. But, before we dismiss the analogy completely, let us take a few minutes to reflect on this notion.
What exactly do we have in mind when we come to church on the weekend? For many of us, hearing a good homily is key. We need to “fill ourselves” with something that will help us keep going. For others, finding a few minutes of peace in order to “fill ourselves” with God’s presence is important. And, of course, for many, listening to the Scripture readings “fills us up” with something to cling to for the journey. The excursion to Church then, is indeed a place to fill ourselves with a type of fuel that will keep up going. And what is wrong with that?
The answer to the above, of course, is that nothing is wrong with coming for re-fueling. The fact that we recognize a need for such a venture is wonderful. The drawback to this line of thinking is that we are not machines. Fuel is definitely necessary on our journey to the Kingdom. However, there is much more to our faith then simply becoming refueled once in a while. The idea of being Christian is not one of living our lives the best we can with an occasional thought given to God usually asking him a favor or two.
Being a follower of Christ involves total engagement in a relationship. This is not limited to an occasional drop in. The piece that we often forget in this process is that we are not the only ones who are in the equation. The concept of refueling ourselves belies our thought process. We seem to be saying that all we need is an occasional shot of energy and then we are off on our own to face the world. This is a false concept of Christian discipleship.
God never meant us to be on our own. If we are to live a God-centered life, we must be willing to become fully engaged in the life of God. This means that we need to come to a point where God fills us with his love, his energy, his spirit every moment of our day and in turn we allow God to be God in our lives. How does that differ from the filling station scene? It differs in the sense that we don’t forget God until the next time we feel “empty.” We live in his love and through his love. The result is that we as well as our parish life becomes fully alive and engaged.
Where are we, as a parish, in this light?
Lorette P. Nault