How To Define a Practicing Catholic?
This is a question that can trip up a number of people, especially young adults and those who are not settled in life. While in our culture it is now common for people to self-define their own existence, this does not apply to many very practical things; including what it means to belong to a community. It would be nonsensical to claim to be a practicing Catholic while at the same time never attending Sunday Mass, engaging in ministry and financially supporting one's parish. It is a sad reality that some Catholics do more of this for their health club or civic organization than they do for their own parish.
Sunday Mass Attendance
- First a practicing Catholic needs to be attending Mass every Sunday. While a person may miss Sunday Mass for a serious reason this largely only applies to things like illness, taking care of someone who needs that assistance which prevents the person from attending, or a work schedule that essentially negates any possibility for the person to attend from Saturday evening through Sunday evening Mass times.
- The most essential marker of a practicing Catholic is attending Sunday Mass. To not do so willingly constitutes a mortal sin. Yes, it's that serious. God was that serious when He made it the Third Commandment to keep Holy the Sabbath. It was revealed to them (by God Himself) that this meant worshipping God on the Sabbath (at the least). Catholics celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday; the day of Our Lord's Resurrection.
- A practicing Catholic should be supporting their parish through ministry. This can mean being involved in many different ways. Able bodied people should lend a hand to their parish. People who are elderly or who have disabilities should make sure to support their parish through prayer.
- A practicing Catholic should be supporting their parish financially according to their means. Many Catholics do a poor job of this, which is unfortunate because it means their parish is not able to provide more ministries or even manage the regular upkeep of their facilities. It's a responsibility for every Catholic to support their parish financially.
- How much a person should give is between themselves and God, however if a person isn't giving at least $20 a week in the collection they are likely falling short in our community. This is a rough number because some people cannot afford to give that much, however some people do not take their responsibility to financially support their parish seriously enough which places more of a burden on the other people. At. St. Joseph we have people who give well in excess of $100 every week.
- A number of our parishioners probably could be giving more than they currently are, but there may be different reasons why they choose not to do so. As we know talking about money can be a divisive issue. It's important to remember that tithing is reflective of one's relationship with God just like many other aspects of our spirituality. If this element of a person's spirituality is neglected there is always a deficit in a person's relationship with God. As a general principle I encourage every person to seriously pray about how much they feel God is calling them to give to support their Church each week. As in all things, it is important to live in good conscience and God is likely calling people to do more.
- Catholics should be involved in other parish events when they are able (dinners, classes, daily Mass).
- Catholics should be ready to assist their priest in the parish and actively seek out those opportunities.
- Catholics should be praying for their fellow parishioners each day as a way to build mutual charity and ask for God's grace and blessings.
- Catholics should seek to build charity in their parish by supporting one another, especially those they do not get along with. Parishioners should not gossip about one another or seek to break the bonds of charity between themselves and others.