Why are Catholics so notoriously bad at fellowship?
#1
Food for thought. Are we bad at "fellowship", and why is that?

http://aleteia.org/2016/09/19/why-are-ca...ellowship/

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Why are Catholics so notoriously bad at fellowship?
In establishing the Church, Jesus made clear that we aren’t meant to navigate the Christian journey alone

Recently I was asked to speak at a local Catholic women’s group. It had been awhile since I’d put on my speaking shoes, and I was genuinely excited. That is, until I was given my topic. Fellowship, they said.  Fellowship? I couldn’t help but wince. Not suffering? Prayer? Family discord? Keeping the faith during crisis?? Nope, fellowship.

It was hard not to think about potlucks with slow cookers full of unrecognizable cuisine, or coffee and donut functions where one lucky greeter uncomfortably stands at the entrance of the parish hall while the attendees dine and dash. Or when a really progressive church asks the congregation to greet one another before Mass (gasp!) and people awkwardly start digging through their purses or suddenly find themselves absorbed in the missalette.

Without a doubt, a common theme among fallen-away Catholics who are now happily nestled in bustling Protestant communities is that they felt unwelcome at their parish because there was a lack of fellowship. So what is fellowship and why are we, as Catholics, so notoriously bad at it?

Fellowship, by its very definition, is merely a friendly association and the gathering of like-minded people. How is that so difficult? Yet the very concept brings disdain from some Catholics. In a group chat discussing this issue there was a common theme: We don’t need fellowship; we go to Mass for the Eucharist. One commenter even said, “The difference is that Protestants need people; we don’t need people, we have Jesus.”

Really? Catholics don’t need people? Yes, we do have Jesus in the Eucharist but it’s a fallacy to espouse a spirituality without community. We are the Church, and that in its very essence means we are a people. The concept of fellowship is essential to our journey as Christians; Jesus Christ himself taught us this.

In establishing the Church, Jesus made clear that we aren’t meant to navigate the Christian journey alone. That we need the love and support of like-minded people to help us to stay the course — in the good times and when the waters get rocky. Yes, I do attend Mass to receive Christ in the Eucharist, but that doesn’t mean my experience of Church should be limited to my moment of Communion.

Some years ago I was asked — several times — to attend a Catholic women’s Bible study. Eventually I ran out of excuses to avoid it and couldn’t keep dodging the invite. So I went. And though there were some women like me, some were very much not like me. Yet we were all united in our Catholic faith. Each of us wanted to live in the world but not of the world and we knew that we could not clear this great hurdle alone. We needed support.

Even though you would never find us at the same social functions, the members of this group banded together, trudging together through both mundane and shattering life events, even when the lessons of the study group were completed.

And I too soon learned why the Holy Spirit’s urging was relentless in placing me in the paths of these women at that time.

On a brilliant October morning, I was dropping my kids off at my mom’s as I always did. But that morning, I discovered Mom unresponsive in her bed. It was I who now benefited from the Bible-study fellowship. Even that very day, as I kept vigil at my mother’s bedside, a prayer chain started. And it didn’t end there. Paper plates and Pampers were delivered. Meals for weeks. And, knowing that I would return to a full time job within the week with no childcare, a friend stepped forward and offered to babysit my children. And she still does, three years later. Every fear I had was taken care of. And this community, this fellowship of Catholic women, carried me through one of the darkest moments of my life.

Perhaps the biggest mistake that we Catholics make, and one we will be judged for, no doubt, is our lack of reaching out to people in the pews on Sunday. The Church is a body of believers, and what kind of body are we if we are not mindful of our obligation and mission to ease each other’s sufferings and lead our brothers and sisters to experience Jesus Christ? In fact the Mass is more beautiful and exponentially more powerful when experienced in its full purpose: drawing spiritual strength from the Eucharist and temporal strength from the experience of standing united with others in our belief that Christ is present with us.
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#2

                                            I have ties to the Latin Mass community and to a very traditional minded Eastern Catholic parish in my general area, and this hasn't been my experience at all.
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#3
That article is spot on. For some reason, Catholics can be so cold and standoffish. I try to do my part to fix that situation by reaching out to people who seem to be more isolated. It's been a very rewarding experience. Friendship is a great thing. The Church is a great thing. Why not develop some really great friendships by making friends with people at church?
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#4
What is missing here is that Catholics are largely victims/ 2nd generation products of Wasp/jewish "urban renewal."

We lost our ethnic. communities. Our neighborhoods.

Any recreation of community among commuting suburbanites is not the same thing.

Add in the fact we have a demoralizing crisis. Yeah people are going to be colder and more standoffish. Never before have we been so alienated.

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#5

                                                          Every traditionally minded Catholic parish in the world should have a coffee-cake hour after lunch, where people can gather and talk after mass.
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#6
(09-20-2016, 07:47 PM)Eric F Wrote: Every traditionally minded Catholic parish in the world should have a coffee-cake hour after lunch, where people can gather and talk after mass.

That sounds great to me.  Problem is, people "don't have time."
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#7
I admit I'm pretty cold and standoffish myself.  I don't speak to anyone at Church unless I'm in an awkward situation where small talk is necessary, and I do not stay for coffee hour.  That's just my personality though, I'm fairly cold and closed off unless I allow you into my world. I've had enough bad experiences with letting people get too close over the years where I would rather be totally isolated than risk some creep,bully or weirdo into my life even during coffee hour.  You give people an inch they take a yard, you give them a yard they take a mile.

That being said I feel close to the Communion of saints through praying the Office and trying to pay close attention to the liturgical year.  I've been an Office devotee for a few years now and can say in all sincerity it's been the one thing that has saved my faith and given me a sense of peace above all else.  It's not for everyone but for me it's a godsend.

Outside my ex and the not so friendly hospital chaplain I don't know any other Catholics outside this forum.  I guess I don't even crave for fellowship all that much. I've got a nice woman in my life, a handful of close confidants outside church settings and that's good enough for me. 

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#8
(09-20-2016, 09:10 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: I admit I'm pretty cold and standoffish myself.  I don't speak to anyone at Church unless I'm in an awkward situation where small talk is necessary, and I do not stay for coffee hour.  That's just my personality though, I'm fairly cold and closed off unless I allow you into my world. I've had enough bad experiences with letting people get too close over the years where I would rather be totally isolated than risk some creep,bully or weirdo into my life even during coffee hour.  You give people an inch they take a yard, you give them a yard they take a mile.

That being said I feel close to the Communion of saints through praying the Office and trying to pay close attention to the liturgical year.  I've been an Office devotee for a few years now and can say in all sincerity it's been the one thing that has saved my faith and given me a sense of peace above all else.  It's not for everyone but for me it's a godsend.

Outside my ex and the not so friendly hospital chaplain I don't know any other Catholics outside this forum.  I guess I don't even crave for fellowship all that much. I've got a nice woman in my life, a handful of close confidants outside church settings and that's good enough for me.

I echo your sentiments.
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#9

Re. Former Buddhist and Random Trad Guy: Some people are loners, and that's fine and good. Power to ya!

-- But most people aren't, and the lack of Catholic community is a real shame. BC summed up a HUGE part of the problem, which is the destruction of our Catholic neighborhoods -- often ethnic in nature, parish-centered. They're gone, and by design (see this book:  The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing)

But the excuses made for the lack of community is scary. From the article Prairie Mom posted:

Quote:In a group chat discussing this issue there was a common theme: We don’t need fellowship; we go to Mass for the Eucharist. One commenter even said, “The difference is that Protestants need people; we don’t need people, we have Jesus.”

That goes completely against what Scripture teaches about how we're supposed to live. We're supposed to love God and love our neighbor above all else, and the thinking above is a problem. Yes, the Mass is about praising God and, most of all, offering the Sacrifice -- but Church is about more than that.

It's surreal to hear a Catholic talk that way, really. We're the ones who should be the most communal of all. We're the ones who are very Incarnation-focused, not denying any of the "gritty realities" His taking on Flesh entails. I guess it makes sense that Protestants would over-focus on community since that, along with some guy preaching stuff, is all they have, but it makes no sense for Catholics. We're the Church with the "Communion of the Saints"! We're the ones who don't deny the role that others play in our salvation, Our Lady's prayers above all! We don't see referring to her as "Mediatrix" as "taking away from Christ"!

And on a pragmatic level, people need the help and prayers of others, and if Christians can't get that from their fellow Christians, then where else can they turn? And why should they have to?
 
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#10
(09-20-2016, 07:47 PM)Eric F Wrote:                                                           Every traditionally minded Catholic parish in the world should have a coffee-cake hour after lunch, where people can gather and talk after mass.
We have, forever. 

Tired of the constant inaccurate trashing of traditionalist Catholic communities for their so-called "lack of fellowship," when I have yet to encounter that in more than one such community.  We're actually way better at it than the quasi-Protestant diocesan communities, where so many make themselves unavailable for any fellowship because they leave Mass immediately after HC. 

Oh, whoops, I forgot:  Their "fellowship" is constant loud talking to friends and family before and during Mass, and acting offended if anyone, including the priest, politely asks them to lower their voices.
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