introverts and extroverts in the catholic church

My previous post was on the extroverted nature of evangelical churches reflected in their style of worship, preaching, fellowship and evangelizing. The springboard for these reflections is Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

For me, the logical next step in this thought process is to look at our own Catholic Church. Are we a church where introverts or extroverts would feel most comfortable? What do you think?

One of my favorite things about being Catholic is our diversity. At it’s best, this diversity can accommodate many different personalities. We have a veritable smorgasbord of prayer styles, and liturgical traditions. We have Gregorian chanting Latin masses and guitar strumming folk masses. We have charismatic prayer groups that participate in a Pentecostal style of worship. We have communities that offer Taizé prayer, centering prayer and Eucharistic adoration.

We have lively, colorful parades and pilgrimages that reflect local culture and customs. We have private novenas and devotions.

Some of our clergy wear simple vestments; some tend to the more elaborate. We have religious sisters who dress in every-day clothing. Others prefer the public identification of full religious garb.

We have hermitages and cloisters. We have monasteries that open their doors to all who seek the silence within. We have retreat houses for solitary time and large gatherings alike.

We have World Youth Days that welcome thousands. And we have small, Theology on Tap evenings where faith issues can be discussed in the intimate setting of a neighborhood bar.

We have pastors and bishops who regularly make the head-lines with loud statements on the latest political events. We have many more that prefer to go about their work with a quiet commitment.

We have charismatic media preachers and reflective spiritual writers.

We are fortunate to have such diversity within our church, for it truly offers options to suit every personality. It’s sad when we don’t celebrate this diversity. It’s even sadder when one way is imposed as the only way, or promoted as better than others. Our world is made up of introverts and extroverts, as are our churches. A well balanced faith community will respect the different needs of each.

On the other hand, we all need to step out of our comfort zones sometimes for the sake of the community. You don’t want to exchange greetings at the beginning of mass? Well, maybe your neighbour finds it excruciatingly difficult to sit still during moments of silence. We can’t please everyone all the time, and we can’t expect to be pleased all the time. But, we can be sensitive to the different needs of introverts and extroverts in our midst.