Christeaster, definition: A Catholic who goes to Mass twice a year- on Christmas and Easter.
Poor Christeasters have been the butt of many a Catholic joke. For devout Catholics, it's almost comical to see the church explode only two days of the year. Where do these people come from??? Imagine if they went to every Sunday Mass- we'd need a church at least five times as big!
Maybe you don't experience Christeasters the way I've experienced Christeasters. Not every church has them in such great numbers that they literally have to turn away parishioners from entering the church on Christmas and Easter because they have reached the maximum capacity and it would be a fire hazard to squeeze in any more (seriously, this happened at my last parish). Or maybe you've never had to watch the Mass on a television in the Church basement, or have had to stare at a wall (not glass) in the Church Entryway with fifty other people while standing throughout the entire Mass. These experiences can be frustrating, no doubt, to the Catholic who really looks forward to celebrating these Feast days in the same sacred way they experience every Mass. I've even heard one slightly bitter Catholic say everyone who goes to weekly Mass should be given a ticket and given higher seating priority than the Christeasters! I have to admit, after sitting through a few Christmas and Easter Masses in gyms, basements, and in the back of crowded churches with Christeasters on their cell phones, being disrespectful about the Eucharist, playing video games and talking ALL throughout Mass, I have gotten quite frustrated with a few of them myself.
So why I am beginning to like Christeasters? I don't like that they only go to Mass twice a year, but I like them because they show a Church full of hope and possibilities. They show me what our Catholic Churches could be like if ALL Catholics went to every Sunday Mass. Wouldn't it be a tremendously great thing if we had to build huge churches just to fit everyone in every Sunday?
On Easter Sunday, my family and I went to 10:30 Mass at the Expo Center. The place was packed full. We got there a little late (the promise of good parking was not kept) and had to sit in the last row where we sat in probably the last three seats available. Liam took out his spotting scope from his church bag to see the priest which was funny the priest really was that far away! The priest said he estimated about 3,500 people there! Amazing. He also said that when he looks at all of us, he sees the Resurrection. I saw it too, although I don't know if we had the same thing in mind. I saw the possibility of what new life looks like. One study I've read showed that roughly 10% of all Americans are former Catholics. That's about 30,000,000 people who are former Catholics in the United States alone and that's not even counting those who go to Mass infrequently.
I think it's exciting to think about Catholics returning home- even if it's only two days out of the year. Who knows what they may experience during one of those Masses that may inspire them to come again. It's our job to make sure their experience is as welcoming and loving as God's warm embrace. We mustn't be like the other son in the story of the prodigal son who is annoyed with his brother who came back. We must be thrilled with the possibility that these 'brothers' may be here to stay.
Beware-- this kind of thinking just may lead to your Catholic Church becoming the next mega Church!