Knocking on Closed Doors - Why Having an Apostolate is Not Just "A Nice Thing To Do"
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
A friend linked to a recent blog post The Lie of the Apostolate. The post really bugged me. The main call of the post is good - that we should make sure our families are loved and cared for - but it went about it in a way that did not sit well with me.
I think what bothered me is that the post gave the impression that serving beyond your family is optional. That it is something that's great if you get around to it, but no biggie if you don't.
That is selfish naval gazing masquerading as holiness, my friends.
You know what happens when people feel that serving in their parishes, neighborhoods, schools is optional? The work does not go away, it shifts onto someone trying to fill in the gaps - or worse, that support network disappears for good.
Lately, that's been me for my parish. I've been attempting to carry the weight of five people. I'm only one person, and it shows.
You know the saying "Many hands make light work"? I think one cannot appreciate how much the many hands are needed until one tries to do the work of the many. It's not pretty.
I cannot express how much even a little assistance would help. It may not feel like much, but someone volunteering to set up drinks before a parish event, print out fliers, or be a greeter at the door takes loads of burden off of those people who are trying everything they can to keep this ship afloat.
When I look around trying desperately to communicate how much those willing hands are needed, all I've been seeing are closed arms.
There are typically reasons, many of them are good, to have the decision to volunteer be "not right now", but there will ALWAYS be a reason not to step up.
It may feel to you like you're just saying "not right right now", but to the people who are left to try and keep things afloat it feels more like you're saying "not my problem". When not one helper can be found, those volunteers that are left are being disrespected and taken advantage of by the very people they are trying to serve.
If you want to have a healthy neighborhood, parish, or school, you have to show up. It is not someone else's problem, it is your problem. My problem. Our collective problem.
You CAN find some way to contribute! I really truly believe every person is valuable and needed, and that every person can give back to those communities they so freely utilize.
Tap the old lady on the shoulder who you see always doing something for the parish, tell her how much you appreciate it, and ask how you can help. (Seriously, I cannot recommend this highly enough. You have no idea how long it has probably been since anyone told her "good job".)
Fill a need that you see in your neighborhood.
Ask your kid's teacher if there is something they wish they had available for their classroom.
What if you have babies and this is all scary and overwhelming? I have a whole post about that!
The idea that your family is your apostolate is all well and good, but it is not ok to use that as a reason to ignore your larger family. Don't forget about us! We haven't forgotten about you.