How To Strengthen Catholic Community

Churches can include more ‘Winter Christian’ themes in homilies and hymns. Winter Christians are both intensely engaged with their faith, but also intensely stymied by spiritual dryness, doubts, a persistent sin, or some other difficulty. (They’re unlike ‘Summer Christians’ who are joyfully drawn to the faith, and completely unlike people who like or dislike the church, but don’t yearn for it). The psalms of lament sound familiar to them, but “his yoke is easy, and his burden is light” is a little closer to how cartoonist Allie Brosh describes attempts to jolly people out of depression: ‘Are you taunting me? Is this some weird game where you name all the things I can’t do?’

A hymn like ‘Conflict’ from the Shenandoah Harmony collection of shape note songs is much closer to their experience. (‘It’s seldom I can ever see / Myself as I would wish to be / What I desire I can’t attain / From what I hate, I can’t refrain.’). It may not be the end of the Gospel story, but it’s part of most people’s experience of it over their lives. Leaving it out is like having Easter without Lent.

Parishes can make it easier to ask for any form of help (and for people besides the priest to provide it!) When I had a group of Christian friends over to discuss ways of providing Benedict Option-like support for each other, one part of our evening was spent just naming things people wished others would do for them. ‘I’d like to spend more, well, any, time around children.’ ‘I wish I had someone who would go to adoration with me after work.’ ‘I want to get to sing with other people.'”

Read more at First Things