I know a priest who starts missions by preaching all the weekend masses prior to the mission. He asks the people for a show of hands “If I told you that if you come to all four days of my mission this week, I’ll give you 1 million dollars, how many of you would come to all four days?” Of course nearly everyone raises their hand. Then he tells them that, if they come for all four days, he’ll guarantee them something better…the grace of God. That means eternity in heaven, which is much greater than $1,000,000, or even $1,000,000,000.
Most of us admire sports people/teams, and have a favorite athlete who trains hours, days, weeks, months, years, for a few seconds of effort, and a trophy. If they fail, they get nothing, really. A second place trophy means little to most people, just ask the 2009 Indianapolis Colts.
So if you were asked “What would you do to win the highest honor in your respective sport?” you might talk about giving up your summer to get your body strong, 8 hours a day, eating right, cross training, then go into team drills to get a team mind-set, then preparing really, really well for each opponent, for the ultimate prize. In short, you would work day and night for a long time to be worthy of that ultimate prize, and then some to actually win it. Hours and hours.
You would not go in with this attitude: Well, I’ll go in for an hour, once a week, depending on who the coach is, and I’ll do all the shortcuts, coming late, leaving early, sleeping during meetings…I would say you will never win a championship with that attitude. But that’s the way many Catholics are today. They don’t believe what the Church teaches, they go to mass reluctantly, leaving early, coming late, just doing the bare minimum, and it’s an obligation. Like it’s a chain around their neck.
Well, if you knew that the prize for living your faith was much more than a Lombardi Trophy, or a Wimbledon Cup, or a Claret Jug, wouldn’t you want to do everything in your power to get it? Live your faith! Go to mass like it means something. Go a few minutes early, adore the Blessed Sacrament, act like the tabernacle you are when you receive the Eucharist, stay a few minutes and get to know somone you don’t know already. Make the parish what it was in other times-the center and summit of life. Go to socials, participate in ministries, go to confession, invite your priest for dinner (treat him like a member of your family-he is!). Try to go to daily mass, start a Legion of Mary chapter, invite an outside speaker into your parish to fire up your parishioners. Give more than a buck in the collection plate. Understand your faith-live it, learn it, love it.