Do you wish there was more life, vibrancy, and participation in your parish? Many people complain that their parish is not serving their needs or the needs of the community, and are tempted to go to another parish (or a Protestant church in town) in order to feel that energy and sense of community.
Recently a listener called in to Go Ask Your Father™, because he was disappointed in the lack of participation and sense of mediocrity he found in his parish. He visited vibrant churches in another city and wondered how he could bring that same energy into his own parish. Msgr. Stuart Swetland responded:
“St. John of the Cross says if you’re ever in a situation where there is no love, place love there and you’ll find love there. In other words, if we put effort into what we experience at Mass, I think we’re going to get things out.
How do we set our parish on fire with the Holy Spirit? That has a lot to do with prayer and devotion. And there are lots of things that the laity can do on their own, even if they’re not supported, necessarily, by their priest or deacons. But I have found that if the laity want to do things, a lot of priests and deacons would be ecstatic to aid you in doing that.
One of the things I find that can really jump-start a parish is Eucharistic Adoration. Ideally in the monstrance on the altar, but even if that can’t be arranged because of the schedule of the clerics, you can still do adoration in the tabernacle.
I’m thinking of one place in Europe with a cathedral parish that was really, really, dead and the lay people started to come in after work at a certain time. All they did was gather in front of the tabernacle and began to pray. After a little bit of time they started doing the Rosary, and when I visited there they were doing the Rosary and Evening Prayer and 20 minutes of meditation.
They were doing a Holy Hour that included those three parts, and there was a boom in vocations in that particular diocese. The whole cathedral parish was brought to life, just because of the prayers of 20 or 30 lay people that got together at a certain time and prayed almost every day during the work week.
So I think it begins with prayer. Getting a group together to really pray for the parish, pray in the parish, and then from there the Spirit will lead you to what is the next step.”
Listen to the full response below: