Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 7, 2005
Nuture the flock we already have
On Easter Sunday in the Archdiocese of Edmonton at least 230 people will celebrate the sacraments of initiation. These people had been on a faith journey to full communion with the Catholic Church.
On that night, thousands of others in various parts of the world will celebrate the same sacraments of initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.
But before all the jubilation of the Easter Vigil and the welcoming of these new Catholics, they went through the journey of discovery, learning, understanding, accepting and believing in the fundamentals of what being Catholic is all about.
Some of these people had to go through the process of making sense of their faith, making sense of what it is they are being called to do and to be.
Somehow these people had to prove their worth, prove their deep interest, and show signs of their seriousness in embracing the faith. They had to search their hearts and souls whether this journey is for them and discern whether this is their calling.
Being baptized into the Christian faith is being called to become an active part of God's family. And the whole Church rejoices when new Christians are accepted into the ever-growing population of the followers of Christ.
There is no doubt this family is indeed growing because the human family itself grows every moment.
While we are successful in attracting people to become Catholic, how successful are we in nurturing those who are Catholic to remain in the faith? What do we do to keep every single member of God's family active in our faith life? What do we offer them to keep their faith alive? How do we help them keep their commitments to remain as active practising Christians?
Of course we have all kinds of follow-ups, programs and spiritual practices that help new Catholics grow and be nurtured. Some times they work; Some times they don't.
While everywhere in the world there is growth in the number of Catholics, we still cannot ignore the fact that every day there are Catholics who get frustrated with the way some of us behave and with the way we treat each other. Some walk away from being active members of the Church but claim that they still have faith in God.
We can say that perhaps their faith is not deep enough, their spiritual life not well nurtured. We can even say that some of these people just went through the motion of becoming Christians in the first place. Perhaps, they didn't have a choice because their parents or grandparents had them baptized when they were very young and couldn't say, "No, I'm not ready to be baptized."
We can blame it on the weak foundation of their faith. However, it is also good to note that a good foundation of our own faith will always find a way to inspire theirs. As the saying goes, "Action speaks louder than words."
The truth of the matter is that what attracts people to become members of the Catholic Church and what frustrates them are simple things. Simple signs of hospitality, friendship and warm reception always make people feel welcome. On the other hand, a single hint of elitism can easily turn people off and eventually lead them to march out of the Church.
This is not being petty. How we treat each other and how the values and virtues we know in our heads find expression in as simple as greeting each other "Peace be with you," will always show just how real a Christian we are.
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