I have been thinking about the word duty lately. You may think of a soldier defending his country as duty. Upholding the law is a duty. Going to church on Sundays and Holy Days is a duty or obligation.
In my eyes, God and country go together, as it should. Many young people have lost this sense of duty to their country and we all know that church membership is down and that many young people have a plethora of activities to choose from other than attending Mass on Sundays. Many young people are forgoing families which might give them another reason not to attend.
Cultural Shifts in the Church
The church is going through a major cultural shift, especially with the absence of our youth and the influx of foreigners. I wonder, if you don’t work toward something like citizenship or paying off your college debt, if you ever acquire a sense of satisfaction that you worked toward something—toward an accomplishment. My Dad worked his behind off and saved money so that we could attend college debt free with the help of money that we saved as kids working and saving. We didn’t have much, but I didn’t really realize that because we had family and a sense of duty.
In one sermon or another, the homily focuses on being a servant to those around you because if you don’t then what is the point of receiving the Eucharist—that there is no place for God in your life. This got me thinking and the word that keeps crossing my mind is duty.
Volunteering is Good for the Soul
I have done my share of volunteering and ministering in the church. I decided to take a break from some of the duties and focus on only a few. In church ministry you are “called” to perform a certain ministry, but often times, it’s warm bodies that they need to perform a function, and there is a continual and steady need to promote filling this need. There is nothing wrong with warm bodies. I know someone who hardly ever says no to fulfilling a request and she is a Godsend.
Some in the church are very dedicated and make their ministry their life calling. The beauty of the Catholic faith is that it is multi-faceted. Pick something you enjoy. Volunteer for awhile and then maybe choose something else. Let it become your avocation. There are many ministries that present themselves and many ways to contribute. The Body of Christ, the congregation, is also multi-faceted and there is no one way to approach God. But the fullest way is the source and summit of the Catholic faith, the Eucharistic meal.
Yes, there are the precepts of the church that should be followed, but not having a sense of duty to your country and the laws that it upholds is not one of them. Remember, God and country. I am of Lithuanian decent and this sense of duty or obligation is very strong in me. It’s a way of honoring my parents and getting their blessing if need be.
Growing up with the faith, it was instilled in us to fulfill our Sunday obligation by attending Mass on Sunday. For me, at that time, there was not an emotional “attachment” to the church. Hymns were sung, prayers read, Communion received, donuts and fellowship after Mass. During those days we also had CCD after Mass. It worked out well. We came home to a Sunday dinner which my mom put in the oven before leaving for church. After dinner, sometimes “the girls” would go into town to shop for a bit or lay out in the sun by the old pear tree, slathered in baby oil with iodine on our skin so that we could “tan” more quickly. We might wash a car or ride bikes. Sunday was a “free” day after the Sunday duty of attending Mass. I feel fortunate to have had a wonderful sense of family growing up. God, I long for simpler times like these for our world.
A Closer look at Charisms
To pigeonhole the faith is not the correct way of looking at it. There are many charisms as there are varieties of flowers. They can help you discover your sense of duty or way to volunteer.
Literally “gifts of grace” (charismata), described by St. Paul is gratuitous blessings of an extraordinary and transitory nature conferred directly for the good of others. Indirectly they may also benefit the one who possesses the charisms, but their immediate purpose is for the spiritual welfare of the Christian community.
Depending on the classification, the charisms are variously numbered. The longest single enumeration is in St. Paul (I Corinthians 12:1-14, 40). Spiritual writers often list five categories, based on the Pauline writings and the Acts of the Apostles, namely charisms of instruction, administration, miracles, service, and prayer.
Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to all Christians by the Holy Spirit to give them power both to represent Christ and to be a channel of God’s goodness for people. Whether extraordinary or ordinary, all charisms ought to be exercised in the service of God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2003).
- a moral or legal obligation; a responsibility. “it’s my duty to uphold the law” · [more]synonyms:responsibility · obligation · commitment · obedience · allegiance · loyalty · faithfulness · fidelity · respect · deference · reverence · homage · fealty
- (duties)a task or action that someone is required to perform.”the queen’s official duties” · [more]synonyms:job · task · chore · assignment · commission · mission · function · charge · [more]
- a payment levied on the import, export, manufacture, or sale of goods
Another Lent and Easter Summitted
Lent is over now and we will soon fulfill our Easter duty of attending part or all of the Triduum with the culmination of Easter Mass, The Resurrection of the Lord. But Easter goes on another 50 days until Pentecost. Perhaps we can look at summitting Mt. Everest as Easter and making it back down as Pentecost.
On the mountain there are many people that you encounter, from all walks of life. The church is also like that. The Catholic church is universal, located in many countries around the world with a diverse cross section of humanity. It is a dutiful way of life. It is beautiful way of life.