Feeling At Home

Our Parish Pastoral Council meeting this week included a discussion on what are signs of a vibrant parish.  The list ranged from a line for Confessions to people feeling at home.

Today, I would like to talk about feeling at home in church.  I think a lot of people feel and/or act like guests in church.  They arrive at the appointed time for Sunday Mass and leave as soon as Mass is over. Hopefully, they feel like they have received something special in the eucharistic meal we have celebrated.  But we really don’t know because we never hear from them.  Some of them may be people of incredible faith.  Others may never pray during the week.  We don’t know and it is not for us to judge.

My point is that we shouldn’t feel like guests in church.  We should feel at home.  I think back several years to a summer assignment I had while in seminary.  One of the people I had come to know as a friend had recently had surgery and was recovering at home.  I stopped at their house on the way home to see how he was doing.  We talked for a while and I was invited to stay for dinner to continue the conversation.  As the wife began preparing dinner, she was asked if I would like a glass of water or something.  I said water would be great.  She then asked her husband if he wanted some water.  He did.  Then, she told me to get him a drink while I was getting mine.  That’s when I knew they were not just parishioners but friends.  I felt at home with them.

With regard to feeling at home in church, I think back to my own return to church.  I hadn’t been to church in almost 16 years.  I began to realize that something was missing in my life.  That led me back to church.  I immediately went from not going to church at all to going everywhere because I was blessed to find a church that felt like home right away.

What it means to feel at home in church can be different for each person.  The bottom is church a place we want to be.  What makes church feel like home for you?


Fr. Jeff


my own return to church

One Comment

  1. A home is someplace we serve. There are jobs to do in order to keep the home running smoothly. It seems that the pivotal moment you felt at home at your friends’ house was when you were asked to help serve.

    We moved an hour away from our church. Although we still go on Sundays, serving gradually fell off for us. The extra hour of driving made it hard to get there early to help get ready for the service, or to make rehearsal for worship. We didn’t stop right away; our serving dwindled over time. I’ve noticed I increasingly feel like a guest as I see new folks taking over jobs our family had previously filled (God
    bless them!).

    I think serving makes you part of the family. In a family, everyone has a job, or chore to do. We all make an investment in the dinner we work to make, or the floors we help to clean. These jobs help make it our home instead of someone else’s.

    I think of Jesus’ words, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Where we invest with our valuables is where we will feel most valued. I think if we are feeling like a guest in our own home, it’s because we just live there and someone else does all the work, like guests in hotels. If we want to feel at home when we are home, we must contribute and I think the same is true for our church home.

    God bless!

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