Monday, April 18, 2011

With a plank in my eye

We went to Mass yesterday, which was Passion Sunday. I would estimate that attendance was two to three times as much as we have on a typical week, which confused me a bit. It's not Christmas or Easter, when people attend to celebrate with family. If you're not a typical Mass-goer, why pick a weekend with a super long Gospel? My husband suggested it was because people get palms to take home. Could be.

The spikes in attendance on Christmas, Easter, and (apparently) Passion Sunday irritated me, until last night. Who are these people? Why are they just wandering in here like it's a tourist attraction? Don't they have any respect for what is sacred? Do they think being here will get them brownie points?

Then it hit me.

The real reason I was irritated had nothing to do with a perceived lack of reverence for God and everything to do with my own ugly pride. I realized last night my actual concern was that "these people" come in and join the community and, just like that, appear to be genuine Christians. Their presence irritated me because I valued being seen as a church-goer and suddenly no one can tell who are the "real" ones. My pride sickens me.

And so, again, I fall and ask for help and try once more to follow Christ. I hope two things come from this post: 1. that if other regular church-goers were passing judgment like I was, they are able to see themselves more clearly through my failure and 2. that if sporadic church-goers were feeling judged, they can accept my apology and know that no one has any right to cast stones.


  1. Great thoughts on this topic. Growing up we always noticed attendance swelled at mass during Holy Week. A priest friend of ours once jokes and said if he could give out something every week than maybe those APEX (ashes, palms, Easter and Christmas) Catholics would keep coming. Strangely for us our normal mass was not as crowded as I expected it to be. Perhaps because people thought it would be crowded and chose to go to other masses. I can't really say.

  2. You're not the only one with this plank. I have had it in the past and sometimes still struggle, but then I remind myself that this is an opportunity to show them God's love.

    That being said, we recently (well, relatively) moved to the east coast and have yet to find a "home" church. For many reasons, I dislike visiting a church on Easter (or Christmas), so we are going to be attending online this year. The more I think of it though, the more I think a big part of MY problem with visiting on Easter is my own pride. I don't want to be seen as one of those people who is there solely because it is one of "the big two." :-/

  3. Granola Catholic -- Hm, perhaps a sticker chart would boost attendance? It helped my Sunday school kids bring their homework in. :-)

    Maria -- Good to know I have companions on this journey. God bless you!

  4. Good post! I am so often judgmental. I have to ask God to help me with this all the time.

  5. Thanks for the feedback. It's a good thing God is so patient with us!