March 28, 2008


Building on Easter

The scene is similar every year.

The pews are packed several minutes before Mass begins.

By the time the first notes of the opening hymn ring out, a standing-room-only crowd of worshipers young and old also line the inside of the church.

You look around, and there are the familiar faces, but also some people you don’t readily recognize.

In some cases, there could be a family member or friend who doesn’t attend Mass regularly sitting next to you.

“Alleluia! He is risen!” your pastor proclaims.

“He is indeed risen!” the congregation responds.

Welcome to Easter Sunday Mass at many parishes around the United States.

Whether it was an early-morning Mass or a celebration later that day, we have learned that Catholics traditionally come out in great numbers to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

The wall-to-wall congregation at most Masses could cause one to think: Imagine being in a standing-room-only parish church every Sunday.

Pastors and people of faith would tell you that’s what being Church is all about—coming together in community.

What we have also learned as Catholics in recent years is, that at many parishes, we can count on our churches being filled two days a year: Christmas and Easter.

On those holy days of obligation, “C&E” Catholics, the phrase sometimes used for our brothers and sisters in faith who attend Mass on only Christmas and Easter, come and worship with us.

And as disciples of Christ, we are more than happy to welcome them.

Many of us wonder what draws these individuals to Mass only a few times a year, and, let’s be honest, some of us also wonder why they can’t make it to Mass every Sunday.

If we asked them why they do attend on those two holy days, we’d no doubt hear a variety of reasons.

Some do it to be with family on these occasions. Others do it to please a spouse or loved ones.

Some visitors to our parish might be considering joining our the Church.

Still others might be mulling over the prospect of coming home to the Catholic faith.

While it may be human nature to judge others, in times like these, it is critical for us to welcome these brothers and sisters of Christ with open arms.

The simple hospitality shown to someone could be an important step in bringing them back to the faith or into the Church.

The seeds planted could bloom in ways we never imagined—if we just open our hearts to others wherever they are on their journey without being judgmental of their circumstance.

We’ve heard plenty of stories through the years about what’s wrong with our Church.

The Easter and Christmas seasons present opportunities to show what is right with it.

As we continue celebrating this Easter season for the next several weeks, we are all challenged as an Easter people to demonstrate the risen Christ in everyone we meet.

It’s not too late to extend a welcoming hand to a family member or someone else who crossed your path at Easter Mass who isn’t a regular at Sunday Mass.

Thank them for sharing in the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, and tell that person or persons they are always welcome at your parish.

Take it a step further and invite them back in the very near future.

As Catholics, we are all disciples of Jesus and members of the body of Christ. We must also remember that our mission in life includes evangelization—bearing witness to the message and work of Christ so that others may believe in him.

Let Christ’s Easter light of faith shine through you. Build on the Easter message that we are stewards of the living God who can be his instruments on Earth.

Help build up Christ’s Church in your parish and in our world.

Make it a point to do that this Easter season and beyond.

—Mike Krokos

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