How important is fellowship to you?


#1

I don’t know if this is the right thread to start this on, maybe it should be moved. But I’ve had something on my mind for some time, and am looking for discussion and thoughts on the issue.

My Father-in-Law’s current wife is methodist. When I take our kids to visit them within about 30 min she takes aim at the Catholic Church we attend. She will either criticize the Pastor, congregation, or whatever she feels is wrong with it that day. It never gets as far as doctrine because I don’t allow it to. Then it’s onto how wonderful her church is.

After several visits a central theme seems to be emerging. She thinks our Church doesn’t have enough social gatherings. She will criticize the fact that we don’t serve coffee after Mass, and that the Pastor doesn’t want to start doing that (we do have coffee and doughnuts one Sunday a month after Mass), or how friendly or helpful people from our parish are etc…

Maybe I’m not typical, but I guess I don’t go to Church to be social, I go to worship God. I think that fellowship is important, but is not my main focus. I attend Church because I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God who gave his life for our sins, and estahlished the Catholic Church on earth before he accended to heaven. I follow the laws set down by the Catholic Church becasue I believe she is the Bridegroom of Christ and has apostolic succession. If I didn’t believe this I would simply “skip it” all together. I guess I don’t see Christianity as a social event, it is what I believe. Sure I like to be with people who believe the things I do, but just because your Catholic (or protestant) doesn’t mean you all think the same way.

I also know of someone else who left the Catholic Church because of lack of fellowship at the parish she joined. I just don’t understand that train of thought.

I would welcome anyone’s opinion on this issue.

By the way, I now avoid my FIL and his wife. It means they don’t see the kids very often, but previously they never invited us over anyway. It was always me stopping by for an hour because the kids wanted to see them (we always called first). The kids don’t ask to see them much anymore, and if they do I change the subject. I figure the phone works both ways and they can call us too.

Michele


#2

I am a convert. I came into the Church alone and from a church that was more social than the Catholic Church. At first it seemed cold and impersonal. No one cared whether I was there or not.

But Protestant churches, or the ones that I’ve been to, are warm and friendly, miss you when your gone, look forward to your coming again…They go to worship together, as a community, in fellowship. Their focus is on the sermon and each other. It’s very instructional.

As Catholics, church has a whole different focus. We come to worship God and to receive him in the Eucharist. We come to partake of our God with all of our senses.

Now, I am not saying that we couldn’t do a better job of being welcoming to newcomers, but it is not a social event. And usually, we have to leave the church anyway so the next mass can start.

I didn’t start feeling the warmth and unity of my church (and it is a big church) until I started getting involved and getting to know more people.

Just my two cents.


#3

I don’t think this problem is very unusual. IMO, protestant churches are more of a social gathering than an opportunity to worship and praise God. If your FIL wife criticizes your pastor, ask her if she knows him personally. You might point out to her that you are not looking for a social club. IMO, and you might mention this, protestants always seem obliged to criticize other churches, but I personally have never heard criticism of other religions in a Catholic Church. Since we are all different, what appeals to one does not have to appeal to all.

As far as a Catholic leaving the Church because it does not provide enough fellowship, that is such a lame excuse it is hard to comment on it. A “Catholic” who would do that, or say that is not, IMO again, very much of a Catholic at all. Don’t know if it comes from poor catechizing or is an example of trying to find something that is more lenient.

I can’t say that I blame you for being less inclined to visit, particularly if you are not invited. It is sad for your kids that they cannot have a warm, loving relationship with their grandfather, but that is his choice. He is the big loser in the long run. I wonder if he realizes how rude his wife is and that she is causing a rift in the family? You might consider inviting them to your house, where you have the upper hand, and ask if they would like to stop by to see the kids. Then, when they are there, if the subject comes up again, I think I might be tempted to tell wifey that you have always known that their are things that some folks can’t discuss appropriately, and religion is one of them. You are glad that she enjoys her church so much, but being in a Church that has the fullness of truth behind it is much more important to you. If she continues, I would look at FIL and tell him this will not be discussed again in your home.


#4

I’ve got a similar situation with my fiance’s father. Whenever we go over, within a few minutes he will start taking potshots at the Catholic Church (he’s a non-practicing Mormon, but likes to argue). For about two years, I never returned any argument at all… just let it go. Then, late last year, I decided I’d had enough, and started giving it back to him. We had four or five pretty vigorous arguments, but now he’s learned his lesson… unless he wants to engage me on religion, it is best he say nothing about it. Now, it is rare for him to bring up the subject, and he never says anything disparaging about Catholicism, at least not to MY face.

I probably should’ve responded long before I did.

As for the importance of fellowship, I’m ambivalent about it. I think it is important to have a like-minded friend or two, but I’m not one to socialize in large groups. I’m like you in that regard. I go to Mass to worship. Socializing is for other settings, and there are plenty of opportunities for that, in groups that orbit around the parish and have peripherally spiritual activities.


#5

I like socializing as much as the next person, but to me, when I go to Mass, my focus is on the Lord and worship. A lot of times after Mass, we do have many people gathering outside or going over to the parish hall to socialize (you should see how many groups each Sunday are out there to offer food!) - but I do get the feeling that for many, the socializing is nice, but really not the real reason they go there!


#6

There is an old saying, “Catholics love God and hate their fellowman. Protestants love their fellowman and hate God.” Of course that is not true, but it does describe the difference between Catholics and Prots in terms of why we go to church. The Mass is a prayer for us. Church is a time of fellowship and Bible study with a couple of prayers tossed in for the Protestants. What else can they do when they do not have the physical Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in their midst? It is laughable to the point of tears that they criticize us for not being social enough in our worship, when in fact we have Jesus and they only have each other.


#7

Amen, I can’t wait for the Protestant rebuttal to this.


#8

Thank you! I’m not feeling quite so anti-social now:)

I think the next time I might say something along the lines of "I’m really glad that you have found so many friends at your church, however I, like many other Catholic’s attend church to worship God and receive the Eucharist. To us it is not a social event, but prayerful reflection and adoration. We know each other by looks, and not always name, because we see each other every week come rain or shine. (actually I was thinking “Hell or Highwater”, but we’ll see how the conversation goes).

Sometimes it’s much easier to feel conviction when you know your not alone!


#9

Having been both Protestant and Catholic, I think that your MIL’s argument is a straw-man and full of hot air.

I was raised Episcopalian and attended the EC until I was 25, except during college when I attended a mix of the EC and Baptist churches and my roommate’s Church of Christ fellowship.

I did not find these churches I attended to be any more welcoming than my Catholic parish.

So, I think it depends on what your expectations are.

I think that you need to set the ground rules that criticism of your parish is off limits or you won’t be visiting any more.


#10

I am a revert to the Catholic Church. I had been away for about 5 years and did not practice any religion during that time. When I returned, I wanted fellowship, so I started going to the adult education programs in the evening and made friends there. Then, my parish started a Bible study, which I also joined and made more friends there. Then, many of us from Bible study plus others started volunteering at a mission meal for the poor with volunteers from Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches also helping out; so I made more friends, both from my parish and from other parishes/congregations. When my father passed away two weeks ago, I received cards, phone calls, support from many of these people. When I go to Mass, I always see many people I know, and we talk before or after Mass. I also try to welcome new people I see. The point I am trying to make is that fellowship is very much possible, but one needs to make an effort at it himself. If you take the time to get involved and get to know people, you will make friends in church. It really is no different from making friends at work, in school, in the neighbourhood. Granted, some people are just not friendly, but that goes for all situations in life, not just church. Some people may just be a little shy, but if you extend a smile and a greeting, they may join in a conversation and maybe become a good friend someday.:slight_smile:


#11

I am a revert to the Catholic Church. I had been away for about 5 years and did not practice any religion during that time. When I returned, I wanted fellowship, so I started going to the adult education programs in the evening and made friends there. Then, my parish started a Bible study, which I also joined and made more friends there. Then, many of us from Bible study plus others started volunteering at a mission meal for the poor with volunteers from Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches also helping out; so I made more friends, both from my parish and from other parishes/congregations. When my father passed away two weeks ago, I received cards, phone calls, support from many of these people. When I go to Mass, I always see many people I know, and we talk before or after Mass. I also try to welcome new people I see. The point I am trying to make is that fellowship is very much possible, but one needs to make an effort at it himself. If you take the time to get involved and get to know people, you will make friends in church. It really is no different from making friends at work, in school, in the neighbourhood. Granted, some people are just not friendly, but that goes for all situations in life, not just church. Some people may just be a little shy, but if you extend a smile and a greeting, they may join in a conversation and maybe become a good friend someday.:slight_smile:


#12

I am a revert to the Catholic Church. I had been away for about 5 years and did not practice any religion during that time. When I returned, I wanted fellowship, so I started going to the adult education programs in the evening and made friends there. Then, my parish started a Bible study, which I also joined and made more friends there. Then, many of us from Bible study plus others started volunteering at a mission meal for the poor with volunteers from Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches also helping out; so I made more friends, both from my parish and from other parishes/congregations. When my father passed away two weeks ago, I received cards, phone calls, support from many of these people. When I go to Mass, I always see many people I know, and we talk before or after Mass. I also try to welcome new people I see. The point I am trying to make is that fellowship is very much possible, but one needs to make an effort at it himself. If you take the time to get involved and get to know people, you will make friends in church. It really is no different from making friends at work, in school, in the neighbourhood. Granted, some people are just not friendly, but that goes for all situations in life, not just church. Some people may just be a little shy, but if you extend a smile and a greeting, they may join in a conversation and maybe become a good friend someday.:slight_smile:


#13

I am a revert to the Catholic Church who had been away for about 5 years and practiced no religion during that time. When I came back, I wanted fellowship in my parish, so when I found out that there were adult education classes in the evening, I attended them all and made friends. Then my parish started having Bible study, which I joined; I got to know more friends there. Then the Bible study group was asked to help out at a mission meal for the poor. I met even more people from my parish as well as people from other churches, since the volunteers are also from Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches. I also talk to many people I know before and after Mass, and I try to get to know new faces I see at Mass. When my father passed away 2 weeks ago, many of these people sent cards, called, and offered support.

The point I am trying to make is that fellowship is very much possible. Some people may just be not very nice, but that is really no different in church or anywhere else. Sometimes, one needs to take the initiative to talk to people, get involved in ministries/activities, etc. Some people may just be a little shy, but if you say hello and start a conversation, they may end up becoming your friend. It really is no different in church, in school, at work, or in the neighbourhood. If you really want to make friends in your parish, you will.


#14

Kresbrook - As many of the other mentioned, you are not as atypical as you believe yourself to be. I’m a cradle Catholic and have never looked at attending mass as a social and fellowship event. It was my time to give to God. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and there was a movement in my area to try to become more “hip” or something where they focused on people gathering and fellowship. Even as a child, I found that empty. I could socialize anywhere, but in church, I wanted to focus everything on God.

I have an aunt who used to attend a Methodist Bible study class, which was fine. But she got into also criticising the Catholic church about the lack of fellowship and social gatherings. I don’t understand why some Catholics find that so important. I thought mass was about God. I’m not judging, but I’m also trying to understand the thought processes on this.


#15

At our church, right after closing prayer, we make an announcement we are serving Doughnuts and Coffee after Mass. It is a united effort to have fellowship after the Mass.

The Church pays for doughnuts and the coffee.

The Priest even makes the joke

“I slaved over a hot stove all morning to make these doughtnuts, if you don’t help eat them, then I will have to, I am way to big already”


#16

Just as we prefer to associate with similar others in our social environment so I think it is important to do so in the most important of spheres.

Fellowship can take an infinite variety of forms from a small gathering to a large social event.

We meet daily for ‘telepone’ Liturgy of the Hours’ through to special social events to celebrate Eastern special feast days.
:thumbsup:

Specific social groups within the church also have ‘away days’, retreats together, holidays and pilgramiges. I think they all serve a purpose for unity solidarity and good social well being :slight_smile:


#17

I am a very social person. Which is why my friend introduced me to this forum:D

I thrive on socializing and who better to do it with then fellow brothers and sister in Christ.

My church is very friendly and very open to the public. When we walk into the sanctuary we are told to be reverant and social hour is over and this time is all about worshipping God.(Im sure that surprises you because Im not catholic:p )

Anyway–we have coffee half hour imbetween Sunday school classess and Worship Service. Plus many other small group activities during the week.

We also have retreats(women, men, teens). Christ wants us to have fellowship with each other so why would anyone want to forsake that:eek:


#18

On many occasions I have visited the Baptist “building” my son attends… usually for kids Christmas sings etc… not for their services.

As with many protestant buildings, their is a rather large entry and gathering space, with lots of coat hooks and hangers… certainly the atmosphere is “come and stay awhile”. The fellowship aspect is most prominent.

Once inside the main worship area, attention is drawn to the stage, to the choir chairs, to the area where the speaker can walk and talk. The seating is comfortable, padded, and spacious without those “darn kneelers” in the way. Again…“come and stay awhile” … fellowship.

On the other side of the coin, I see the Catholic Churches I like the most (traditional style of a basilica) may or may not have a foyer, or gathering area… but the attention is drawn to the altar, to the cross with a corpus, to the tabernacle. In other words, to what tells us that this is truly God’s house, not ours.

I have come to a point where I personally reject the use of the word “church” applied to anything other than a Catholic Church. That is what the word originally meant… the Church was where the only Christian sect… first called The Way, then the Catholic Church… gathered to worship God with a liturgy evident in ACTs, and still quite similar today… the Liturgy of the Word, followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Each time we “dumb-down” the liturgy to appease protestant importance of fellowship, we insult God in His own house.

So my apologies, to all posters who are non-Catholic. I refer to your gathering places as faith communities, and not as churches… not as an insult, but as a recognition of what the Catholic Church really is… the place where we worship God, and where the sacraments are duly administered (actualy this was Luther’s own recognition of the the true Church)

Bottom line… fellowship is important and fun too… we need more of it… but not at the expense of the liturgy… and certainly not in place of it.
.


#19

Bottom line… fellowship is important and fun too… we need more of it… but not at the expense of the liturgy… and certainly not in place of it.
.

Hi,

Im sure no one here would think fellowship should ever replace worshipping God(although when christians fellowship together --Im sure God is pleased:D )or have it at the expense of liturgy. I think fellowship should be added to all you say. It should never be left out.:thumbsup:


#20

[quote=Joey Warren]Amen, I can’t wait for the Protestant rebuttal to this.
[/quote]

Worship is a time of prayer and worship of God, of thanksgiving for Christ’s sacrifice and grace.

This is the most bigoted post yet about Protestants. Catholic, you ought to be above this.

I have great admiration for the Catholic faith. But this is no way to talk about brethern, separated or not. There is no excuse for Protestants who speak out against Catholics. The same holds true in reverse, I should think.

Jesus is present anytime two or three are present in his name.

O+


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