Christmas is a great time to invite friends & family back to Mass
On November 27, the first Sunday of Advent and the start of a new liturgical year in the Church, Roman Catholics across the English-speaking world began using a new translation of the Roman Missal. The revisions provide a more literal English translation from the original Latin text of the prayers used during the celebration of the Mass.
Many of us have family members and friends who are not active Mass or church-goers, and Advent and Christmas present excellent opportunities to reach out and invite them back. This Advent however, due to the revisions, we are presented with a unique . . . shall we say challenge . . . given they most likely will become a topic of conversation. How do we approach this topic with confidence? How can we invite people back to Mass — a Mass our guests may now claim to be even more unfamiliar with? The consoling message we can give to our friends and family is: You are not alone! We are experiencing this new moment in our Church together, and many regular Mass-goers still struggle to get the responses and prayers correct. We can turn to one other and experts within the Church to help us be prepared and more confident.
The changes and how to communicate them was one of many topics addressed during a recent telepress conference call hosted by The Maximus Group. A panel of church experts was assembled to discuss the revisions and answer questions. Distinguished Catholics such as Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington D.C.; Father Dan Barron, director of spiritual formation at John Paul the Great Catholic University and editor of MagnifiKid; Dr. Edward Sri, Chancellor and professor at the Augustine Institute; and Mr. Matt Maher, Catholic musician, songwriter, and worship leader all participated in the call.
Here are some thoughts from two panelists on what the lay faithful can collectively do to invite our guests into the Mass more fully (emphasis added is mine).
Thoughts from Cardinal Wuerl:
“Part of the whole new evangelization is being open to sharing a great gift of faith. And one way we can do that is simply inviting people who should be with us, who maybe once were with us — people who have drifted away — sometimes people within our family or extended family. And Christmas is a great time to invite people back because they are disposed during this season to experience going to church.
And the new translation is a new moment for all of us, including you. And wouldn’t this be a great time for you to learn a little bit more about what the Mass really is? So many people who have drifted away think they understand what is happening. And they are not always reflecting what the Church truly says and understands and realizes in Mass. So, I think you could use this as a great opportunity simply to say to someone you would like to have back at Mass, ‘How about this Christmas come with us because it is an experience for us all over again just like it will be for you.’ And then invite them to learn a little bit more about what is actually happening in all those details that are unfolding as Mass is celebrated.”
Dr. Sri added the following:
“As far as just the average lay person wanting to engage their friend or their relative over the holiday season, say to draw them in, my suggestion would be shorter is better. There are a number of YouTube videos, short little audio recordings, or a short little pamphlet that might explain [the Mass] and provide an initial spark of interest.”
Ultimately, as Cardinal Wuerl emphasized, the Mass is a very brief moment in time where the grace of God can touch, spark, and ignite a deeper relationship with Christ and His Church. So let’s do our part: extend a simple invitation and commit to learn more about the Mass with our guests. As stated in the National Catholic Register, “All that is needed to save some souls is for someone to show courage and reach out.”
Resources to Explore:
- Dr. Sri has developed a fantastic website Guide To The Mass where you can find more information on his book A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, which takes readers on a unique tour of the Mass and provides explanation behind the revised translation.
- The National Catholic Register’s How (and Why) to Return to Sunday Mass guide is a simple yet effective clip-out resource to give to those we extend an invitation to.
- Life Teen’s New Roman Missal for Parents and Adults YouTube video is creative and fresh — appealing to both youth and adults.
- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a litany of information on the Roman Missal.