Does your parish remind you more of a gym or a hardware store?
I’m not talking about the architecture. That’s another post.
How do you see the way your parish functions in your life? Is it more like a gym, a place where you go to accomplish something and then leave and return to other activities? Or is it more like a hardware store where you go to be equipped to do those activities that one who visits such a store might do?
If it is the first, then your parish is a service to you. Like the drycleaners or the mechanic’s, you go to have a service performed. If it is like the second, it is more like the travel agency or the recruiting office, where you go to be sent on to do something.
If it is the first, you understand the relationship that is required of us as Christians with each other. We are community. God draws us into unity. And so we come together to pray.
If it is the second, you also understand that there is involved here a relationship with God; a very intimate and involved one. It is not like showing up at Grandma’s house in time for Sunday dinner and then leaving after dessert not to think of the lady again until your stomach growls the following Sunday. Hopefully you think of her during the week, call, stop by, send a text. You might perform some task for her such as mow her lawn or help figure out her taxes. And as family there are many intangibles of hers that you carry on without even realizing it: you carry the family name, you have certain turns of phrases and bit of advice that you give from being steeped in the family, you may be inspired to do things that others don’t simply because grandma always said a good person did such things, and you prayed for her good at night.
Because that is what a (functional) family does. And there (as Fr. K pointed out) is where the first question because a false one. Your parish should remind you of neither business institution. At its best it should remind you of family. (How do you get a couple of thousand people to be family – center on Christ because people [I] can’t do it.) And family is not something you do at a particular time, it is who you are and how you live.