A friend of mine has three sons aged 20, 10, and 7. The two older boys are involved in school and church plays and musicals, and really enjoy acting, singing, and performing in general. Although the older son has been in over 30 such productions and is very experienced, he had not been participating lately due to studies and other issues. The younger one, on the other hand, had actually begun acting, singing, and performing as a result of the example set by the older brother. That younger boy has performed with a local parish theater company for about 6 months, and knew most of the people in the company, young and old, through that work. The older one, on the other hand, did not really know anyone in the company.
Recently the older son joined his younger brother in a production of the parish theater company, which was composed of prominent members of the parish, including entire families devoted to performing. His experience is a vivid and powerful example of the unfortunate reality that many Christians sing and pray in church every Sunday while listening to inspiring sermons about charity, kindness, sharing, and being open and friendly to strangers, only to completely ignore the lessons and examples given them at church.
Despite the fact that any idiot could realize that this older boy did not know a soul in this theater company beyond his brother, nobody in that company, not one soul, ever bothered to warmly greet him, welcome him to the production, and make him feel in any way at home. In fact, they either ignored him altogether or seemed to go out of their way to avoid him. It did not matter to them one bit that this older boy would sometimes sit alone in a corner, bored or feeling isolated and lonely. They did not bother to even slightly make him feel appreciated or welcomed.
The sheer irony and hypocrisy of this situation is that most of the kids aged around the older boy’s age, 20, did not bother to make him feel warmly welcomed. Many of these young people were merely modeling their parents, who did the same thing to my friend and his wife, who felt ignored or isolated.
It is one thing to sing glorious hymns in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. It is another thing to actually take what one hears and feels in church and vividly and consistently apply that knowledge and those lessons to everyday life and other people. It is unfathomable that these people and their kids, who purport to be so faith- and parish-oriented, could so coldly, callously, and informally isolate and ignore a fellow performer simply because they did not know that new performer.
Following Christ is not about parading around dressed in church or religious garb, singing powerful hymns in praise of the Lord, or being in every committee known to man and becoming a Peter or Paula Parish. In the final analysis, it is about following Christ’s example of reaching out, stretching warm arms ready to embrace and comfort, and making everyone feel at home. All of these theater Catholics were hypocrites, playing a role as members of local church theater group only to act anything but Christian as soon as they left the theater. False Catholics are poor actors, and their uncaring, uncharitable, and cold indifference to a fellow human being in need or isolation looks like a very poor acting job revealing a very vivid human person.