Being a Christian in Manhattan is…quite a “salmon swimming upstream” kind of existence. And when it comes to actually going to church, it’s a pretty anonymous experience. For starters, the church is always on the brink of empty. You can count the people there on one hand. And you never really see anyone twice…except for “the regulars”…who are also there alone – always significantly older, and always “in and out” – no sticking around before or after.
There’s no community feeling. And it was really a shame. Because there’s nothing more spiritually nourishing than seeing familiar faces at church.
And the priests, they were great, holy men. But it’s not like they’re preaching to their congregation of familiar faces. So, sometimes, it felt like they were just providing a service to a transitory congregation. Some didn’t even go to the back to greet people on the way out. It just was…impersonal.
So moving back home, and going to church with the same priest gave me my first communion, confirmation, etc…(and is also marrying us)…it’s an entirely different Mass experience all together. We feel seen at Mass. We feel at home. We feel welcomed and loved, and supported personally in our walk with Christ.
In fact, last weekend, Steven and I were at a party, and three of the six couples there were ALSO married by this same priest that we will be married by. It’s just…people are living in community. And it’s beautiful.
So on Sunday, his homily was incredibly powerful, about – not just the world’s spiritual disinterest — we all know that ship sailed years ago. But rather, about spiritual sloth that is seen among Christians today. And it really made me think and do some internal reflection, so I thought I’d share the takeaways here.
The pandemic really did a number on what’s left of the “church attenders” across the country. Why? Because we introduced “living room church.” AKA: live streaming Mass from the comfort of our homes, from our pajamas on the couch, at our own preferred time, while sipping coffee and checking our phones. It was a double edged sword, because for as helpful and a “God-send” as it was for us during the pandemic to help keep our faith alive, it has now become the thing that is making people become spiritually apathetic, and perhaps even spiritually red-lined.
Watching church on TV — it’s great. Believe me, Steven and I did that a lot. We loved listening to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s mass, and in fact, after lockdown ended and we were heading back to mass in-person, we would come back and listen to his homily on TV, simply because we “got” so much more out of his homilies than the priests in NYC who were preaching to a church of 15 people, most of whom will never return to that same church again.
But here’s the thing. Live-streaming church is leading to the slow decay and death of our churches and people of faith. Is there a time and a place for it? Yes, of course, absolutely. For the sick and homebound, it is absolutely a blessing. But there’s so much you can’t get from a screen that you get in the actual church.
For starters, the Eucharist. But more broadly for my non-Catholic friends, the biggest thing that you can’t get from a screen…is the community that is sitting in the pews around you.
The convenience of live streamed church has inadvertently put us all on our own little faith islands. And what do you feel when you’re on an island? ALONE.
And what is the enemy’s tactic for demise? Isolate you and get you alone, so he can tear you down, uninhibited.
Going from NYC, where there’s a lack of community already at the churches there, now to Cincinnati, where we’re literally greeted with hugs at the door…there is just no comparison to the lift you get in your spirit when surrounded by fellow believers.
Because being a Christ-follower is hard enough in this fallen world. Trying to do it alone, without the support of a community around you…that is a darn-near impossible task.
So anyway. Take it from someone who, for the first time in 12 years is really feeling like church is home…aka, the way church is supposed to feel…it’s such a beautiful thing.
Do you have a faith community? What do you find helpful to foster community in your area, and any tips for “new comers” getting involved?
Thank you for your support on Patreon!! You make this blog possible 🙂
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
MAGIC TOOTHPASTE? Yes! I am in love with this superior whitening toothpaste. It keeps my smile sparkling, without sensitivity or bleach! I made a website where you can directly order this miracle product! So if you want to give it a try, you can go ahead and grab a tube for yourself. I promise, your smile will thank you!Get a tube!
Be sure to check out my affiliate, Audible. Listening to audiobooks while I cook is literally my new favorite thing. And just for you, they’re offering a Free 30-Day Trial Membership. And with this free membership, you’re going to get 2 free audiobooks! Literally. Free. It is the best deal ever. And if for some reason, you decide it’s not for you, you can cancel within those 30 days and it’s zero money out of your pocket, plus, you get to keep the 2 audiobooks. Soooo…it’s pretty much a no brainer. Plus, it’s a free and easy way to support this blog! So thank you!!
@beauty.beyond.bones – Instagram
And really quickly, I’ve had several questions concerning my Amazon link (amazon.com/shop/beautybeyondbones) — You do not need to buy one of my specific highlighted products on my page, in order for it to “credit” my account. Any purchases that you search or make from anywhere on Amazon, after first visiting my Amazon page, will credit this blog and help support this blog ministry. I am truly so grateful and appreciative to those of you wanting to do so! So thank you! Again, it is an absolutely free, and easy way for you to help keep this blog going!