Home Editorial What America’s parishes need: More hunger for Jesus


What America’s parishes need: More hunger for Jesus Print E-mail
Friday, 15 March 2013 12:56

Remember that joke from years ago about the little boy who was asked to list the four men associated with the gospels? The teacher says, “Bobby, can you name the four evangelists?” “Sure,” says Bobby. “Matthew, Mark, Luke and Bingo.”



It’s a good laugh. But there’s a bit of truth in there, too. It does seem at times as if many Catholics have more interest in bingo, pancake breakfasts, fish dinners and the parish festival than in deepening their relationship with Jesus Christ.


One sees this phenomenon clearly when passing a parish parking lot filled with dozens of cars on a bingo night,  while only a relative handful of folks show up for the riches of Evening Prayer, a parish mission, a Bible study or a speaker on some aspect of the Faith. One sees it again when observing that some people are more than generous with their time and talent in helping at parish events, but rarely show up to take in a session on Scripture, the sacraments or Church history.


The unfortunate truth about large numbers of America’s Catholics is that they are baptized but not fully catechized; they may call themselves Catholic and may even sincerely think of themselves as Catholic, but they have little or no understanding of what the Church believes or teaches. More unfortunate still, many have next to no real relationship with Jesus Christ, the founder of our Faith and the entire reason parish communities exist in the first place. Christ is indeed the raison d’etre, the very foundation of the Faith we profess, but too many among us never make that connection in any meaningful way.


There are, to be sure, notable exceptions in every parish. Such folks always stand out – we know who they are, though they never advertise their holiness – because they so clearly have reached a depth of spiritual awareness that eludes the majority of those around them.


All of which is not to denigrate bingo, which provides critical support for many of America’s parishes where a genuine understanding of biblical stewardship – giving your first fruits back to God – has not been fully grasped in the pews. Pancake breakfasts and fish dinners, likewise, serve as both important fundraisers and an excellent way to bring parish communities together in service and fellowship. Ditto for assorted other parish functions such as picnics, festivals and more.


But all of this ultimately matters little if the same parishioners who are involved in all of these important endeavors do not seek to deepen their understanding of the Lord of Life. Without that understanding, without that hunger to get to know and love Jesus Christ, without a desire to evangelize those around us with hearts on fire, we are little more than a humanistic gathering filled with good intentions. We could, sad to say, be doing most of these same activities were we but believers in Zoroastrianism or Rastafarianism or, indeed, believers in no creed at all.


If we fail to see these activities as only one aspect of a faith that calls and challenges us to do greater things than what the Lord himself accomplished, no amount of service to our parishes, no matter how well-intentioned, will make much difference in the end.


— Lou Jacquet/Editor


Church Budget Envelope & Mailing Co.

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