Katherine Saucedo felt a little uncomfortable walking through the heavy wooden doors of St. Andrew Church in Pasadena.
It had been years since she sat in any pews, despite growing up Catholic. Yet unexpectedly, Saucedo had a good reason to return and picked a good day to do it.
“I recently found out I was pregnant,” said Saucedo. “I’m not in the position I’m supposed to be in. … I have to do better and come here and ask God for help.”
“I feel the need to be closer to him again,” she added.
Saucedo was able to reconnect with her faith during the Nov. 30 Choose Your Moment with Jesus: A Day of Reflection event at St. Andrew. The parish, in partnership with the archdiocese-wide Back To Mass LA campaign, invited Catholics to participate in the form of worship of their choice — and invite others to join them. The daylong schedule included Mass, adoration, and a eucharistic procession. Several priests were available for spiritual direction and confession. Saucedo took advantage of both.
“I prayed and confessed myself too, asked for forgiveness for anything I’ve done,” said a tearful Saucedo. “He [priest] gave me good advice.”
St. Andrew’s pastor said that total access was key.
“I’m a big believer that the church must be unlocked, must be open all day because you never know when someone is going to be touched by God,” said Father Marcos Gonzalez. “I’m hoping that once people are here, they’ll be inspired….”
The Back to Mass LA campaign hopes to get people back in the pews through the power of invitation, complete with a free kit that ordinary Catholics can use to re-engage their loved ones. The kit includes a reflection from the archbishop, an invitation to Mass, and a pair of cross bracelets embedded with QR codes, that when scanned, lead the wearer to a local church. More than 3,000 of the kits, which are available for free on LACatholics.com, have been distributed since the campaign’s launch in September….
You can’t get that kind of experience online, pointed out Father Gonzalez. He compared watching livestreaming Mass to watching a cooking show.
“You can learn something, but you cannot smell it, cannot taste it, and you certainly can’t eat it,” said Father Gonzalez. “We are an incarnational church. It’s impossible to receive the Eucharist on television….”
The above comes from a Dec. 6 story in Angelus News.