Need peace in your life? Have yourself a Sunday
Recently, while working in a parish to get the public school kids to sign up for Sunday morning religion classes, a young mom looked at me with a face of a woman about to panic. Overwhelmed, she said, “I can’t manage one more thing. We had three soccer games this weekend, a baby shower, a wine and cheese tasting, a birthday party, and I will work till midnight tonight so that I can show up to my job tomorrow morning caught up for a busy 60-hour week. We don’t have time for church on Sunday morning.”
I felt so bad for her. How did she get to this point? Sadly, her story is all too common. Many of us think of Sunday as an extra Saturday, a day to tackle tasks and cram as much as we can into 48 hours. Sunday certainly isn’t the day of rest that God has in mind.
When I look out at the makeup of many Sunday worship gatherings, I generally see an older crowd, people who have time — and make time — for church.
Where are all the 30 somethings? I made it a “mission possible” to look for them. My first stop was a mega Catholic church in a suburban community where Sunday morning Mass sees a packed church of all those 30 somethings. The pastor told me he hosts seven Masses each weekend to feed his sheep. Next to me in the pew of the megachurch sits a young father, head bowed on his knees in prayer, with his wife and two girls beside him. After Mass, when I asked him why he comes to Sunday Mass, he said, “The first time I walked in here, I knew it was different. It felt like the parish I remember growing up in — lots of young families and a real honest passion for Jesus Christ.” Wow, I thought to myself, what a different perspective from the young mom I had met the previous Sunday. And, too, this megaparish hosts 500 children every summer for a dynamic program of faith. Here both parents and children work hard at their faith and love it.
Continuing my quest, I visited three more parishes where other young active Catholics have been sighted. In each parish the story was the same: people come to church to be fed. We could not survive another week in this brutal world if we were not grounded in the Eucharist and the support of the Catholic community. At another huge parish of 4,000 families outside Chicago, I asked a group of Catholics under age forty what advice they would give to all those burned-out, overwhelmed folks who can’t (or won’t) fit God into their Sunday schedule. This is what I heard: “Make Sunday a different day—a day of Sunday Mass and leisure family time. Don’t think of Sunday as a luxury but as a necessity.”
Without the day of rest we will implode! That means no Sunday morning sports anywhere, any time. It also means for the sake of our marriages, our relationships, our children, and our mental and spiritual health, we must draw the line when it comes to outside commitments and working overtime. We must rediscover how to be Catholic.
Being Catholic is the best-kept secret out there. To help you be Catholic, look around for other young families who are making the same discovery and share your lives beyond one hour a week. Being in a small group of other men and women gives us a taste of something more that God wants all of us to have. All of the folks I met during my quest told me that they needed to stop in their tracks and realize that keeping up with the rat race was killing them. Their souls had shriveled up, their nerves were frayed, and their bodies were exhausted. With a slow deliberate focus these thirty somethings weaned themselves from worshipping the almighty dollar and started finding God again.
For anyone who needs to find some peace, I suggest you have yourself a Sunday!
Hunt is a nationally recognized catechist and retreat leader.
This column originally appeared in the October 2013 edition of The Catholic Telegraph