There are no awards for just getting by. Excelling means giving our all, and yet, strangely, when it comes to God, many opt for a minimum relationship — just showing up for Sunday Mass.
Such a relationship has three possible outcomes. 1) Stagnation. 2) Going from bare minimum to out the door, because faith wasn’t a big deal anyway. 3) Waking up one day and entering into a real, transforming relationship with God.
Teresa Tomeo’s newest book, Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic, challenges Catholics to choose #3; to take God out of church with them into the rest of their life. Her encouragement to integrate our faith into every moment reflects her own discovery of a God who wants it all. And by giving it all to Him, she and so many others have discovered that life becomes transformed from ordinary to abundant.
Tomeo is a syndicated Catholic talk show host, an author of numerous books, and an international speaker with more than thirty years of experience in TV, radio, and newspapers — twenty of which were as a secular reporter/anchor in the Detroit market. Once, she excelled in the secular world while skimping on the spiritual. Losing her job and almost losing her marriage set her on a different course; one with God as the destination. She relates her own testimony and insights from others Catholic leaders and saints, to inspire people to go from existing to flourishing.
Sunday a Good Start
Tomeo acknowledged that a lot can be said for those at least showing up. By encouraging and enriching Catholics who at attend Sunday Mass, she pointed out that we can embrace Saint John Paul II’s New Evangelization by appealing to the largest untapped market in the Church today. “It’s been said by some Catholic converts that ‘cradle Catholics’ are sitting on a spiritual Fort Knox, and they don’t even know it,” she explained.
Yet why have so many become complacent? “It’s partly because, for generations, most of the culture shared the same moral values as the Catholic Church and there was a certain comfort level that came along with that,” Tomeo said. “As Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of my Archdiocese of Detroit details in his 2017 pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, there is not as much urgency in a message when it’s understood that most appreciate and agree with that message. As a result, sadly, ‘parishes and dioceses slipped almost imperceptibly into a mode of maintenance rather than mission. Many Catholics came to think of evangelization as a special calling, primarily for priests and religious in the foreign missions.’”
According to Tomeo, the cultural shifts over the past sixty years have made it clear that the mission fields are closer than most people realize. “We ourselves need to be evangelized,” she said. “We need to hear the Good News, especially those of us who have grown up in the Church but have never really gotten past going through the motions.”
Tools and Cures
Beyond Sunday equips us to grow in our relationship with God and to share the treasures of that faith. Since Tomeo herself was once was lukewarm at best, she understands where people might be at, anywhere from not feeling comfortable even going to Church, to going but keeping God at arm’s length. Therefore, she is not just preaching to the choir but to the whole band of brothers and sisters in God’s family. As a slow learner herself, she holds up saints that were also slow-learners like St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and King David in the Old Testament, who repented of their sins and came to embrace God and change the world. The moral is, Tomeo said, quoting a favorite saying: “Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.” The key and the cure for all our excuses and apathy, according to Tomeo, is given at the end of every Mass: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
Using the Church as a guide to form our conscience, she also explained that we can turn to Jesus for true freedom. And once we know Jesus, it’s a natural step to share that experience with others in simple, non-threatening ways. “If we’re still breathing, God isn’t done with us yet, and there is work to be done in growing and learning about the Lord and the Church he founded,“ Tomeo said.
The back of the book includes an impressive list of resources to support and inspire the Catholic faith. It includes sources for news, marriage enrichment, podcasts, apps, important prayers, a list of virtues and definitions, spiritual and corporate works of mercy, and the Beatitudes.
There is a companion study guide co-authored with Gail Coniglio, especially suited for church groups and parish missions. Coniglio explained that Beyond Sunday is more than just a book and study guide. “It’s a movement of evangelization that is catching on across America,” she said. “It speaks to everyday, busy Catholics where they’re at to help them take their faith beyond Sunday and develop a personal, 24/7 relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.”
The Beyond Sunday movement offers parish missions, a blog series with short 3-minute videos, tips for pastors and team training for parishes.
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Copyright 2018 Patti Maguire Armstrong