THE PARISH - THE JOURNEY of FAITH
As a Catholic Christian Parish, we at St. Joseph are all embarked on a great journey -- the journey of Life and Faith. It is a great comfort to know that others are on the same road as we are. When we register with a parish we are saying that it is our wish to travel down this road of Life and Faith with that particular community of people by our becoming active its mission and vision and supporting it. In fact, the word parish comes from the Greek word "paroikia" meaning "a pilgrim people," a people on a journey of faith; a journey that we hope one day will lead to the fullness of life in God's Kingdom forever.
Living in a culture that no longer supports a religious way of life, much less a Catholic Christian way of life, the local parish plays an integral role in helping to guide and support us on our journey. The parish does this through it's educational and formational programs, prayer groups, spiritual development and celebrations of the Word and Sacraments. By these means, the parish empowers, nourishes and empowers, nourishes and enables us to grow in wisdom, healing and grace before God and our world.
The parish cannot exist and grow as a separate entity without the active ongoing relationship among those who compose it. When registering with a parish a person, a person is entering into a live faith community and like any other relationships, if it s to be viable and healthy and participatory there must be mutual commitment with it's members.
Today, we live in a very mobile society. More than any other period in history we live in a time of shopping and surfing, the malls, the internet, multi-channel TV, etc. The church is not immune from this reality. Continually we meet people shopping for churches and parishes, people who for a variety of reasons never think of establishing a home parish until they plan to get married or have a child baptized, retired, etc.
The Church, for it's part, requires pastors to have a founded hope and trust that those seeking the sacraments are practicing Catholics in good standing and open to growth. The same is true when parents present their children for the sacraments. Pastors are to have a founded hope that the children will be raised in the Catholic faith. We, therefore, invite you to become an active member of the church and establish a nourishing home parish.
We offer the following criteria to becoming an active member of St. Joseph Catholic Church.
In the Roman Catholic Church of the United States of America, members to be considered "active" parishioners must be registered int the Parish for a sufficient period of time, fulfilled the Sabbath Commandment by attending Mass faithfully on Sundays and Holy Days, and continuously support the Mission of Christ in the local Parish by preferably using the envelope system.
The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation is a serious one. This is not merely a matter of Parish policy. Divine law sets forth this expectation in the Third of the Ten Commandments, "Remember, thou, keep holy the Sabbath. "Exercising the "Power of the Keys" given to the Catholic Church in Peter by Christ, Himself, Canon Law states:
"On Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation, the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body." ( Canon 1247)
This is an ordinary expectation for serious followers of Christ. Obviously, extraordinary circumstances such as sickness, travel, unavoidable responsibilities or bad weather excuse the faithful from this obligation. The elderly or disabled are not bound to Sunday Mass attendance though highly recommended when possible. Individual disregard of this precept projects a distancing relationship from the source of all goodness and can become a grave matter -- a serious sin-- for it shows a habitual disregard for God and the Church's Life and Law.
Hopefully, we will live beyond the minimal dictates of the Law and love. It simply follows that if Sunday Mass attendance is an important Catholic value, then parents who want a Catholic formation not only for them but more especially that their children will see that they attend Mass faithfully on Sunday; otherwise, they will appear incoherent with faith life before their children. And that, of course, is not good nor beneficial for your family life and would give a bad testimony of the life of the parish.
Parents should also note that the expectations regarding Mass attendance do not apply simply to the Catholic parent or parents, but to the children and youth as well. All our children and youth, especially those attending Religious Education and Youth Ministry are expected to attend Mass faithfully. For in the Mass our souls and spirits are nourished and our minds enlightened by divine wisdom.
Each registered member must understand and appreciate our tithing responsibilities as Christian Stewards of God's blessings to us, and pray and commit to sharing them -- with a grateful heart -- through our time, talent and treasure -- procreating and sustaining a solid common good.
The use of envelopes provides a record of Mass attendance which is of most importance for our spiritual health and a nourishment of our common Christian identity as the family of God. This way we also get to know who is who in our community, in terms of being beneficiaries and sharers of God's grace and blessings. Accordingly, the use of envelopes is not primarily about money, but spiritual growth, healing and nourishment within the context of our local spiritual family of faith.