Sunday, December 21, 2014

5 easy ways to evangelize at Christmas eve Mass

Ahh, Christmas eve Mass. The anticipation is over. Mary's "yes" has new significance. Christ is born anew. And our parishes are bursting at the seams with people celebrating the birth of Emmanuel, God with us.

Too bad that, more often than not, we get annoyed at the fact so many people have come to celebrate the significance of this day and worship the Christ child. How dare those CEO Catholics (those who come for Christmas, Easter, and Other special occasions) sit in my regular pew? They took all the good parking spots. And they still say, "And also with you." Stop the insanity! Who let these people in? Does the church not have standards anymore?

Well they are here now, so let's, as a church community, shed the cranky and put our best foot forward to encourage them to make this going to church thing a weekly occurrence. Let's evangelize them.
"Evangelizing means to bring the Good News into every strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new."—Pope Paul VI.
Here are five easy ways you can held transform humanity.

Say "Hi"
Seem obvious? That's because it is. Acknowledge they are there. Make them feel welcome. Would you return to a restaurant that didn't make you feel welcome? How much more significant is this meal around the alter of the Lord?

Help them feel like an insider, not an outsider intruding on you
Yes, it has been a few years since responses and prayers have changed, and ideally, everyone should know them. But instead of rolling your eyes when someone says the wrong thing or accidentally reverts to an old prayer, give them the insider information and make them feel like part of the family. Kindly show them where they can find the right responses. Pass them a prayer card from the pew in front of you. Show them where they can find the proper prayer. Offer them your missal. Want to go that extra mile? Say, "And also with you," on purpose so they don't feel so self-conscious about their mistake.

Embrace the buzz
With that many more people, and kids, there's a bit more—OK a lot more—noise. That's the sound of a vibrant community. That's the sound of your parish's future. Instead of sneering at parents for having normal kids that find it hard to sit still and be perfectly silent for an hour and a half, offer to help. See if little Suzie wants to quietly look at a book with you (of it's OK with mom and dad). Acknowledge them as part of your parish who have gifts to offer. Make sure you offer them a special sign of peace. Smile at mom and dad to let them know having the kids there is a good thing.

Ask them to come back
You have a built-in, even expected thing to say to people as you make eye contact and leave the church. So tack on a little, "Hope to see you Sunday," or "Come again soon," after you say, "Merry Christmas!" End their church experience on a positive note. Let them know this happens every week and that they can usually get a better seat and parking spot.

Keep the cursing out of the parking lot
Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not let the last thing people remember about Mass be someone cutting them off or giving the one-finger salute in the church parking lot. Patience is a virtue. Practice it for a few minutes. Hang out in the church for a while. Take the kids to show them the creche. Sit in your car and pray the rosary while you wait for the lot to clear out a bit. 

Remember: people made an effort to come to church. They are there. They have responded to God's grace. The cooperated with God's divine plan of love. The Holy Spirit is moving. If you're going to gripe about them not fulfilling their Sunday obligation throughout the year instead of welcoming  them back into the Good Shepherd's fold, then at least have the courtesy to get of God's way and let Him do His work. 

Merry Christmas! I hope to see at at Mass.

No comments:

Post a Comment