Consumer Catholics

Years ago, I heard the term ‘consumers’ referring to Catholics: we come to Mass, take, and then leave; I go to a parish I like (that is, it’s the best I can find for me), pray, and then go.  The culture of the Church in Canada allows us to stay consumers who don’t prioritize following Jesus, which includes giving of ourselves and serving our spiritual family.

I’m not bringing this up to make you feel guilty.  After all, no one’s brought it to your attention.  Yet my hope is that, within a few years, no one will be a consumer, but an apostle, a servant, or, if you’re new here, someone exploring.

St. Paul writes today, “The body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body” (1 Cor 12:14-15).  The Church is the body of Christ, and we are really united.  It’s not just a metaphor like being part of a group.  It’s real.  We share grace through being united to Jesus, and we can help or hurt each other.

Each one of us has a unique function in the body and all are necessary—that’s the first point.  St. Benedict’s Parish in Halifax, that coaches us in the Divine Renovation Network, has 1,000 people serving out of 1,500 people who come on Sundays—that’s a healthy spiritual community.

The second point is that some gifts are hidden.  “The members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor” (1 Cor 12:22-23).  So, it’s you who deliver bread to the poor, who help families with groceries, who drive people to Mass who are essential.

Please listen to this two-minute phone message I received last September.  I’ve never received a message like this.  And the man has given me permission to share.


This is the third point: “God has so arranged the body… that… the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it” (1 Cor 12:24-26).  So let’s rejoice together at Christina’s service!  Christina uses her charism of service.  No one knew about this!  Our service doesn’t have to be known, but we should be able to say, “This is how I serve my parish family.”  And look at the fruit!  Brian has been touched by Christ, and you are called by the Holy Spirit to touch people similarly.

‘God has so arranged the body that the members may have the same care for one another.’  We care about each other because Christ cares for us.  If you’ve experienced His care, please have the same care for others.

Fourth point: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.  And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues” (1 Cor 12:27-28).  There are so many different types of service and not all are listed here.

For example, St. Andre Bessette is Canada’s most famous saint.  When he died in 1937, one third of Quebec went to his funeral.  He was so simple and humble that, when he joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross, they didn’t know what to do with him, so they asked him to be the porter, that is, doorkeeper of a school.  He said, “They showed me the door, and I remained there 40 years.”  So many people came to him that he put up a sign that said, “Be brief.”  They would tell him their problems, he’d tell them to pray to St. Joseph, would anoint them with oil, and then St. Joseph would heal them.  In his role as doorkeeper he led people to conversions and miracles.

All I’m suggesting today is that we think about where we could serve our parish family.  It doesn’t have to be known, or even physically in the church building, but it should be for our family, otherwise we’ll be consumers.

When Daniel Uy had nine children, he sung in the choir and was on the parish’s Senior Leadership Team.  When Kacia Yu had her third child, she sometimes brought him to Parish Education Committee meetings.  Paul Jennings, who’s becoming Catholic, is using his carpentry skills to do some improvements in the office.  One man invests in the stock market and gives 50% to the parish, which has helped us with tens of thousands of dollars.  Some people took turns sleeping at the house of a family who needed babysitting for their children while the parents were at the hospital with their youngest.

Everyone’s in a different place in their life, so don’t let this overwhelm you.  These examples just show for what we can aim, when we let the Holy Spirit guide us.  These people never felt burdened by their service, but loved it!

Eventually, I hope that all disciples go through our Called & Gifted discernment group, which helps us discern our charisms, that is, our spiritual gifts for service.

When you find out where the Holy Spirit wants you to serve, you will come alive, and, more importantly, the body of Christ will come alive.

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