Sadly, no one took me up on my offer in my latest Sunday Scriptures post to try and guess what the common theme is. As the title to the post suggests, the common point between them was hospitality. As I’ve related before, this is something that I think the Church has been failing at for a long time. Some recent experiences of mine have shed further light on this particular problem.
Over the course of the last month I’ve visited several Eastern Rite Catholic churches in my area. My interest was primarily curiosity, as I wondered what their liturgies would be like. However, I quickly found something else there that was quite different from the Roman Catholic churches that I’ve visited over the years. And that was a sense of community and hospitality. I was made to feel welcome at both parishes. Never mind that I was a stranger that no one there had ever seen before. I was greeted, welcomed and encouraged to stay. In fact they encouraged me to attend again. And I have to admit, they were tempting offers.
I wonder what it is that made those parishes and their members so much more hospitable than than the Roman Rite churches I’ve attended. It isn’t size. While both were small (in membership and the size of the buildings), I’ve been to small RC parishes as well. No, its something else. My suspicion is that the sense of community in these churches is encouraged by the fact that they are set apart. Their differences from other faith traditions encourage them to look within, and to support one another. In addition, these churches have a sense of tradition and history that binds their membership together. They feel part of something different, something special. That is no longer present in most RC parishes (save perhaps Latin Mass ones). Whatever the reason, I found it all terribly fascinating. There are some important lessons to be learned from these churches. Only I don’t expect anyone to care to learn them, much less pass them on.