What Everyone Else Saw
I walked into Christ the King Parish for the first time in many years. Though there are several people already in the pews, including a group to my left reciting the Rosary, I feel very alone. I settle into a pew, and then kneel in prayer to the Father. Afterwards, I walk back to the greeter, who cordially welcomed me at the door, to ask a question, saying I was new to Christ the King. Mary Smith*, the greeter, introduced herself and again warmly welcomed me to the church, saying how nice it was to have me there. After answering my question, I returned to my seat.
During Mass, I expected a priest who would speak at the faceless people in the pews, an experience I had felt in several Des Moines Catholic churches in earlier years. To my surprise, Monsignor Frank spoke to the people during the Homily. It was as if he knew every face and person; and during the sign of peace, people genuinely shook the hands of others and offered them peace with smiles on their faces.
On my way out, Mary Smith was there and personally introduced me to Monsignor, who also gave me a warm welcome and urged me to return. I knew I had found a home.
How It Felt to Me
I walked into a big, empty and lonely church. I genuflected and settled in a pew. As I knelt in prayer to God the Father, Jesus quietly and slowly came down from His cross and walked over, sliding into the pew next to me. He enveloped me into His arms, as a father would his child, and told me, “You are not alone. I am here with you.” To prove it, Jesus introduced me to Mary Smith. Then, He introduced me to His cherished flock, and finally He introduced me to His shepherd.
The warmth of His love infused every cell in my body, and I felt the heat of it fill me as the sun’s rays heat the earth. The church no longer looked or felt cavernous. It was filled with love and warmth. I didn’t feel alone any longer. It was overwhelming. I cried tears of happiness and gratitude all the way home. God’s unconditional love made me feel wanted, and He gave me a home. I knew I would return to this, His church, again.
It’s a Fact!
The underlying fact is that we do not always know how our actions affect another person. Like an iceberg, what we see is only the tip. Our impact on others is hidden, like the bulk of the iceberg under the ocean waters.
Even if you have seen people at church before and you arrive first, smile and welcome them with, “Good to see you” or a friendly hello. If you do not know or remember them, introduce yourself. Let everyone know you are glad they are there. Even long-time church members are happy to know they are welcome.
It’s a fact — your every action during church service affects someone else negatively or positively. What type of impact do you wish to make?
by Patricia Hawke
Copyright 2008, Patricia Hawke
* Story is true; Mary’s last name has been changed for privacy.