Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Ideal Catholic Parish



St. John Vianney heard confessions as a parish priest almost all day long.  Sometimes he'd hear confessions for 14 hours a day.


We might be tempted to think that St. John Vianney didn't have much time as a pastor to do other programs (Bible studies, youth events, emails, retreats, build a social media presence, etc.) and we might be tempted to think his parish suffered.


I would submit that there are three levels of parish life

1)  The worst - virtually no confessions AND no other programs.  A parish waiting to close

2)  Middle of the road - virtually no confessions BUT there are lots of other programs happening

3)  The ideal - a parish where ALL people need is the sacraments.  At this parish, there is no need for planning all the other stuff that always gets terrible attendance because the people actually seek out and are nourished by the SACRAMENTS themselves.


Objection:

"But what about stuff to bring people along?  Relying on the sacraments themselves might work for the Uber-Catholics but what about for the rookies and the fallen away?"

Response: If a parish was full of people going to confession regularly and not missing Sunday Mass, that would unleash on the community an army of people ready to help the newcomers, the fallen away Catholics, etc.


A parish with all kinds of events and religious education and retreats is not the highest form of a Catholic parish, it is a parish that hasn't quite figured out that all you really need are the Sacraments