Hoping to curb incidents of after-Mass road rage, a Catholic church in San Diego has posted signs throughout the parking lot reminding parishioners of the graces they have received during Mass.
On Thursday, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church erected nine placards listing the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Each sign lists a different fruit, taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The parish’s pastor, Father Anthony Saroki, told CNA that the goal is to help parishioners focus on a life with Christ and the acquisition of spiritual fruits.
“Even just those words, the power of those words – reading them, thinking about them – brings us into that contact with that reality which is that life in Christ and the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are a good representation of what that life is.”
The idea arose following a number of bad reviews about the church parking lot on Yelp. Although the parish is vibrant, said Saroki, the parking can leave people feeling bitter, due to its constricted traffic outlet.
The parish has implemented traffic directors to keep cars moving along smoothly, but the parking situation still leaves parishioners feeling frustrated.
Saroki hopes the new placards will lead parishioners to reflect on sacramental grace and opportunities to live out this grace in practical and immediate ways.
For example, he said, the signs should prompt thoughts such as, “I can be patient, have self-control, exhibit gentleness and love, and have joy in my heart, even while I wait in a parking lot.”
The priest said the fruits of the Holy Spirit are powerful insights into an authentic Christian life, and standards for people to evaluate their spiritual development.
“My prayer routine, and the way I’m serving God, and the way I’m relating to others – if these are in alignment with God’s will, then I should be experiencing the fruits of the Spirit. If I’m not, then that is a cause to examine,” he said.
“It is just calling to mind these realities, and being open to them and therefore letting them have power in our lives.”
Saroki said the signs also tackle a bigger goal – promoting and maintaining reflection after Mass. Too often, he said, people receive Jesus in the Eucharist and do not meditate on the encounter.
The busy pace of life can pose distractions for those exiting the church building. But the graces received during Mass are not meant to stay in church, the priest said. Rather, they are intended to pour into every area of life.
“We do not savor God enough in our encounters with Christ and the sacraments. We rush through things, we use things and consume things, and we don’t savor,” he said.
“The idea is that the grace of the Mass will extend, it’s not meant to be just left there. It’s meant to extend through our whole life. We are meant to become who we receive. We need to be intentional about that.”