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Mary and Joseph Go to a Fish Fry

April 16th, 2014by Fr. Dave Endres


It’s a Friday in Lent and two Catholics go to a local Fish Fry. We’ll call one Mary and the other Joseph. At first glance, the two don’t seem very different. Both were baptized as infants; both attended 12 years of Catholic schooling.

The difference is that Mary attends Mass each weekend; Joseph attends infrequently.

A recent study (see Sherry Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples, especially pp. 43-44) indicates that the most significant predictor of whether a Catholic attends Mass each weekend or not depends on how the person answers this one question:

Do you believe it is possible to have a personal relationship with God?

It’s not necessary for a person to feel close to God, but to acknowledge the possibility of a God who wants a relationship with us – who cares for each of us and who is knowable and relatable.

If someone believes that a personal relationship with God is possible, he or she is far more likely to seek out that relationship through Mass and the sacraments.

Yet, for those who believe in an impersonal God – which is what upwards of 1/3 of Catholics said characterized their belief– there is little reason to worship on Sunday since they believe that a personal and life-giving relationship with God may not even be possible.

The Gospels offers us an invitation to see God as He is and to believe in a loving savior who deeply desires a relationship with each one of us.

In the Gospels, Jesus ministers directly and personally to people – to lepers, the possessed, the blind, the sin-sick – not only healing their physical maladies, but helping bring them to faith.

We might ask ourselves, what is my fundamental understanding of God? Do I see God as “out there” somewhere, not involved in my life? Or do I acknowledge Him as someone who wants a relationship with me?

And if I do believe that this kind of relationship is possible, do I seek to foster that relationship in response to His love?

Fr. Dave Endres

Fr. David J. Endres is assistant professor of church history and historical theology at Mount St. Marys Seminary/Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati.