Are you interested in getting your parish or diocese involved in welcoming inactive Catholics back to church? There is clearly a need to attract distanced Catholics back to the Church, but why do we need a program like Landings to help them return? After all, as long as there is no obstacle to them receiving the Sacraments, they could come straight back to the Eucharist through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, right?
However, many seem to feel a real need for support and friendship within a small, friendly group before venturing into the wider parish community. Landings does not compete with existing evangelization or catechetical programs for people who wish to become Catholics or for practicing Catholics who wish to deepen their faith. Instead it provides a simple way for returning Catholics to be supported in an environment that fosters adult conversation and community for those discerning a return to the Church. Through its format of storytelling and dialogue, Landings seeks to take advantage of this sacred moment of re-entry to foster a true re-conversion to Christ and his Church.
Landings, a reconciliation ministry of the Paulist Fathers, is a program that invites all Catholic parishes and communities to reach out to Catholics who have been away from the Church or who struggle in their relationship with God and the Church. In a welcoming and non-judgmental way, small groups of active lay Catholics join with returning or inactive Catholics to share their spiritual journeys and explore their Catholic faith. Landings trains Catholics to give witness to the Church’s evangelization mission by opening their hearts to those who have been away. Sharing your time, your resources, and your faith could bring others back to the Church. By setting up a Landings program at your parish, you can provide a safe harbor or a “landing” place for returning Catholics to explore their faith and their future with the Church.
“The term New Evangelization speaks for the need for a renewed method of proclamation especially for those who live in a context, such as the present one, in which developments of secularization have left heavy traces in countries with a Christian tradition.…The New Evangelization primarily addresses those who have drifted from the Church.”
—Pope Benedict XVI
is for Returning Catholics
This reconciliation process will help you and your faith community to welcome inactive Catholics who want to take another look at the Church, and to celebrate their sacred moment of return by giving them a “safe place to land.”
is simple, yet subtle in its effects
Since 1989, the lay-oriented process has successfully brought returning Catholics back to active participation in the faith.
is a lay ministry
This program trains and engages active lay Catholics to welcome those who are searching, and wondering.
Each person’s journey is special and sacred in the eyes of God. The meetings focus on sharing faith stories and reflecting on Catholic themes.
A Landings session consists of eight-ten weekly meetings (1½ hour to 2 hours) and looks like this:
- Check-in time and opening prayer
- Spiritual journey storytelling
- Response to story
- Reflection on Catholic themes (See sample in Participant’s Journal)
- Who Is God?
- Why Follow Jesus?
- The Holy Spirit and the Church
- Baptism and Confirmation
- Eucharist and Liturgy
- Sin and Reconciliation
- Suffering, Death, and Resurrection
- Catholic Moral Life
- Facilitator’s reflection
- Closing prayer
Sample From Participant’s Journal
Reflections on Eucharist and Liturgy
Two thousand years after the Passover meal that Jesus celebrated with his twelve disciples on the eve of his crucifixion, there are nearly 1.2 billion people stretching to every corner of the globe who share the Catholic faith.
It is an awesome testament to how seriously our ancestors in faith took Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” With that Passover meal he shared with his friends in Jerusalem two millennia ago, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist in which he continually comes and gives himself to us. Through our participation in Mass, we share Christ’s sacrificed Body and Blood; we are nourished by it and become what we receive (the Body of Christ). This week we will review the teachings about this essential sacrament that is often referred to as the “source and summit” of the Catholic faith.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is present to us in several ways during Mass, including the proclamation of God’s Word, the Eucharistic assembly (those of us gathered for Mass), and the person of the priest. But above all, Christ is present in the Eucharist itself. That is why the Eucharist is also referred to as “the Real Presence,” because Jesus is wholly and entirely present to us in a very special way. In Church circles, you may have heard the term transubstantiation being discussed. Catholics believe that during Mass, bread and wine are really changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. This process is called transubstantiation. What does that mean? Our senses tell us that what we see and touch is bread and wine, but our faith tells us that beneath those appearances is a different reality: it is the person of Jesus, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity (CCC 1381). The Lord invites and urges us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist:
“Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53; CCC 1384).
Participating in Mass is central to being Catholic. Like much of our faith life, receiving the Eucharist is not a solitary experience. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ and likewise become his Mystical Body, the Church. We join our prayers with the prayers of the universal Church and we become what we receive.
What does the Eucharist mean to you now as an adult? How has your understanding of the Eucharist changed over the years and why?
What has been your most recent experience of the Mass? What part is most meaningful for you?
When we receive Communion, we are challenged to be like Christ in our thoughts and our actions.
How does receiving Christ in the Eucharist and participating in the Mass challenge you personally?