Dear Friends in Christ,
Being accountable to other people is not something most of us enjoy, but there is zero possibility of living a life of authentic Christian discipleship apart from such accountability – both of our beliefs and of our behavior. One essential component of being a faithful Catholic is attending Mass each Sunday, and except for times of travel away from home, this should always be done at one’s own parish church. Claiming to be a parishioner of one parish while regularly attending another parish or not attending Sunday Mass at all is an impossible contradiction, and from time to time, a parish priest has the uncomfortable duty of pointing this out. The following observations are offered in the hope of clarifying some of the consequences of being a true parishioner here or not.
Please remember that no matter how often you come to Mass at St Mary’s, you are not considered an active member of the parish unless you are registered here, attending Mass here each Sunday, and using the stewardship envelopes to fulfill two separate purposes: a) making your offertory contributions and other gifts, and b) establishing an attendance record. Fulfilling these requirements is essential for those who plan to seek endorsement to serve as a sacramental sponsor for Baptism or Confirmation and for those who intend to ask to receive Baptism, Confirmation, or Marriage for themselves or their children and for those who want to receive parishioner tuition and/or financial aid for our parish school.
Establishing the fact of Mass attendance by use of the stewardship envelopes is not in any way an imposition on those who say that they are members of the parish in order to request a life changing sacrament or reduced tuition in the school. Being a member of any family automatically brings with it both privileges and duties, and expecting the privileges without fulfilling the duties is the mark of an adolescent. Being a mature disciple of the Lord Jesus also requires us to be accountable members of a parish family, and that in turn entails both worshipping with the parish family and helping the parish family pay its bills, each household according to its means. If you use electronic transfer to make your offertory contribution and other gifts, you can still use the stewardship envelopes to establish an attendance record which is essential for all the purposes described above. Just check the box for EFT on the envelope and then drop it in the collection plate. All envelopes in the collection are recorded in our parish database, and I can tell in a key stroke who has been to Mass on any given Sunday.
How seldom can I come to Mass and how little can I give to receive what I want? That is minimalism, and it is the death of the soul. The Lord Jesus asks of us a total gift of self and a willingness to follow him in the Way of the Cross, and responding to his call with generosity is what frees us from the tyranny of our own disordered self-love. Let us resolve to surrender everything to Christ in the obedience of faith and in so doing to find the freedom of the children of God.