An invitation to come home
by Bro. Ray Cook, OMI
Catholics within the United States may be noticing a media campaign entitled Catholics Come Home (CCH). The program seems to be very well thought out and the ads are extremely well done. The videos, or commercial spots, extend the idea of “invitation” as a way of calling out to people to come back home to the Church.
“Invitation” is a great foundation to build the campaign on. During the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark our Lord Jesus Christ uses an invitation in verse 16 as he calls to Andrew and Simon "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men". Many of us respond to different types of invitations because it fulfills a desire to connect with another. I am currently working in a parish and I am often invited to different gatherings and I happily go should time allow because it gives me a chance to get to know others better. Kudos to CCH for creating ads that ends with simple invitations to call people to home.
As the invitation goes out, I believe we will witness people coming home to the Church. What then? Where do we focus? I’m not just referring to “we” as Religious Sisters, Brothers or Priests but “we” the people of God. We want our churches full, we send out the invitation and then we…? Think of any event that you were invited to and you may find that the event was good if you were shown hospitality. Invitation and hospitality go hand in hand as we find in Chapter 10 verse 23 of ACTS as Peter “invited them in and showed them hospitality”.
We must show the people we invite hospitality in order to make them feel welcomed and encourage them to return. If we don’t know they are in the room with us they may leave as quickly as they came. I think this is a perfect opportunity perhaps for the youth and young adults in our parishes get more involved. Have them greet people at the doors and welcome them into our parishes. Make it a point to have them make announcements at the end of Mass to welcome all who have “come home.” Use the creative forces that today’s young people have and create a plan of how to show hospitality to those invited.
For those who are “already home” and active in the Catholic Church I put forth another side to the invitation: Come home to the calling that God has placed in your heart. We each have a special calling or vocation but it needs to be articulated and questioned. If you have even the slightest urging that you feel called to “come home” to live as a Sister, Brother or Priest then speak about it to others.
I invite you to talk about it with your family, friends or fellow parishioners. Once you do, I believe they will lend you a hospitable ear. You can’t get married if you don’t articulate the idea to another; it might be difficult to fulfill a call to Religious Life without doing the same.
Bro. Ray Cook is a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate currently on a pastoral year assignment in New England.