Friends and family are well acquainted with my feelings about a certain Christmas homily from several years past. In front of a church of regulars and many `C and E` Catholics, the pastor announced loudly and strongly that the most important place to be in the world is inside the four walls of this church!
The memory of those words set me off on a long, impassioned rant. I`ll challenge that belief straight from the depths of my gut, spewing forth my anger at such a closed-minded and judgmental theology. There are those that are in. And those that are out. Choosing which category a person falls into is easy…does their back-side warm a pew on a Sunday morning?
Today, another pastor challenged us to be roamin`Catholics. We are called to go beyond the walls of the church; beyond the altar and tabernacle and into the world. Our faith is not a Sunday morning activity. It is meant to be a life choice, shared through our daily lives. AMEN!!!
This difference in views might not seem like a big deal. But it really is a big deal. Some folks view their faith as a call to barricade themselves from the rest of the world. The world is evil. The Church is good. Therefore, we should have as little to do with the former and give all our time and energy to the latter. This kind of ecclesial-centric faith emphasizes the liturgy and sacraments. And, since the liturgy and sacraments are number one, then so are her ministers. This is at the core of clericalism. The more this mentality is fed, the more power is hoarded and the greater is the divide between the ordained and laity.
Being called beyond the walls of the church does not minimize the importance of the liturgy and sacraments. Catholics believe in the efficacious grace of sacraments. We need their healing, nourishing, energizing, and forgiving gifts, given so freely and generously by a loving God. We need to gather as a community of faith and prayer. But we gather in order to be sent.
We are all called to be roamin` catholics. This is at the heart of the new evangelization, spoken about so frequently by recent Popes and Bishops. It is time to unlock the proverbial tabernacles and truly bring Jesus into the world.