We at Holy Family state that “All Are Welcome.” I think we need to be more specific about who “all” includes. The following list is not an exhaustive list of who are welcome, but it’s a start. Ready?
You are welcome if:
- You haven’t been to Mass in ages.
- You don’t know the responses to the prayers in Mass.
- You have many questions surrounding doctrines like transubstantiation, the Virgin Birth, Jesus’ divinity.
- You are divorced and remarried without an annulment.
- You feel something is missing, but you aren’t quite sure what that may be.
- You have tried other faith traditions, but they don’t seem to fit quite right.
- You have left the Catholic Church, but miss being part of a community.
- You are part of the LGBT community.
- You are a married member of the LGBT community.
- You want to come and just see what a Mass led by a woman priest looks like. (Clue–not a whole lot different than a regular Sunday Mass at your local parish!)
If you look carefully at that list above, you will see that nothing on that list refers to God. Religion, any religion, is merely a framework to help one discover and develop one’s spirituality, one’s connectedness to the Divine. The rules, the dogma, the doctrine of religions are all ideas that men have had throughout the millennia to help define God, to determine how one must approach God, and to guide one on how to love God. Those are very useful tools to use as a foundation, but only as a first step toward developing a relationship with God. What turns doctrine and dogma and rules into something sour is when the leaders of organized religion demand lockstep agreement and adherence with every tenant of that religion, leaving no room for the Spirit to work. God is pleased, they tell us, when we adhere to all the rules and regulations. What are we to do, then, when our thoughts and our experiences tell us that what some of those men thought throughout these 2,000 years of history just don’t make sense anymore? Do we have to leave the Church for the sake of personal integrity?
In a word, no. Our experiences of God in our lives may not match what organized religion tells us it should look like. That is what we recognize and celebrate at Holy Family, the way our Loving God loves us just as we were created. We recognize each person has a unique story that he or she is living out and we believe that story is holy and honorable. God created us with intellect and the capacity to think. If a doctrine or a rule gets in the way with how one relates to God, isn’t it better to step over the rule and just keep going toward the Divine? One doesn’t have to leave the whole when one disagrees with some parts. When we come together as Holy Family Community, we come together to pray, to help each other on this path called life.
We are based in Jacksonville, IL but we are excited to announce we will be celebrating Mass on Sunday, September 6 for the first time in Springfield! Mass will begin at 4:00 p.m. at the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation at 745 Woodside Road in Springfield. We would love to see you!
All are welcome!
Blessings and laughter,