When I sat down about a year and a half ago to write my book, “Beyond Sunday: Becoming A 24/7 Catholic” (OSV, $14.95), I had no idea how badly we would need to do just that. For years, I wanted to explain to Catholics the impact bringing their faith deeper into their everyday lives can have, the joy that occurs, and the positive fallout for others as a result. So I wrote a book based on my own journey back into the Church as well as the journey of many reverts who had (re)discovered the depth and beauty of Catholicism.
Who knew that the laity would be called upon in such a major way to do just that: go beyond Sunday, not only to help the mothership get back on course but also to keep her from sinking. We’re in the middle of a storm so major it makes Florence seem like an afternoon shower. We have to roll up our sleeves and get busy by helping to unload the seemingly massive and tainted cargo of secrets and sin that’s weighing the barque down. And now, just as so many other times in Church history, it is the laity that can make all the difference.
St. Paul’s reminder regarding the fruits of suffering that we read in Romans is all around us: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (8:28).
Catholics are taking their faith beyond Sunday in big ways. Those who’ve been faithful but who haven’t done more than regularly receive the sacraments and volunteer now and then, are writing heartfelt letters to their pastors and bishops. Even those Catholics who were already involved in several ministries have started new apostolates of prayer, fasting and action dedicated to cleaning up the Church.
I’m thinking of the women who organized the Wear Gray website. They make and distribute gray pins made of cloth with an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus attached. They got the idea of wearing gray to Mass from the Old Testament book of Jonah: “[T]he people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth” (3:5).
Jonah’s call to repent was recognized by the king and the people in Nineveh, and as a result of their humility, prayer and fasting, “[God] repented of the evil he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out” (Jon 3:10). Wear Gray has caught on with ribbon-making in parishes being held across the country. In addition to wearing gray to Mass, the organization encourages Catholics to write their bishop and pass the letters onto Cardinal Daniel DiNardo at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Another lay ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit is selling special wristbands for a dollar to remember and pray for sex abuse victims. Their goal is to raise enough money to build a special place of prayer and reflection in Pennsylvania following the release of the devastating Grand Jury report. They’re also asking those purchasing and wearing the bands to tell others what they represent.
These are just two of the many ways concerned Catholics are helping build a stronger more faith-filled Church. I’m hoping my book and study series will encourage others to do the same. So far it looks like the lay faithful are off to a good start, embracing the prophetic words of one of the greatest teachers of the 20th century, Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”
Amen, and no time like the present to go beyond Sunday.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio.