As readers of my blog no doubt know, I am a Christian who has attended and been a member of a Lutheran church. We had education woes when our daughter was young, and for several years, we homeschooled our daughter and belonged to a local Catholic home school group in South Carolina. Through that group, we came to know this Catholic family, and I have perhaps gotten to know them a bit better via shared writings over the years.
Mary Hathaway, author of the comments below, was writing in response to a particular article and I have decided not to share that article, but rather, I am just posting Mary’s comments which should be read by all Clergy — and frankly, by all the folks in the pews.
As a Catholic for whom missing Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin, I kind of have a different take on this. As a Catholic widow to a man who even getting out of bed at times was an act of heroic virtue, having disabilities myself, and having children with disabilities, I would say parishes need to stop telling people with disabilities (or shut in for other reasons beyond their control) to *come.* And start *going* to them. Jesus didn’t stay in the temple all day waiting for people to show up. He was constantly going out. Mass ends with us being sent. But for most that means Sunday brunch, instead of driving to visit the shut-ins or the family with special needs for whom going to Mass wipes them out for the next 3 days. Or the family with a new baby. Or the person with autism or depression. Yes, welcome a disabled person if they can make it. But for the love of God, stop the sanctimonious behavior. We should have every capable person leaving to visit a person or family. Ditch the enormous Church picnics and suppers and have small group ones at people’s homes. Or keep them but go to the shut-ins with meals. Just because someone looks like they have the same disability does not mean they have the same extraordinary challenges. And if someone leaves Mass early or comes late, stop the horrid Judas comparison. Over the years, I don’t know how many times we had to leave because one of us was about to have an autistic meltdown, there was a diaper accident, or poor John ‘s pain was flaring, or he had stayed home and I was scared to death to leave him alone for long. Jesus gave us the 11th hour for a reason. Every parish has a membership list. If people aren’t coming, reach out and find out why. You could teach your kids a better religious education lesson by being an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and visiting homebound people on a regular basis than a 100 classes or 20 retreats.