“The Numbers” Don’t Look Good—What Should the Church Do?

What are we to make of “the numbers”? As the Church it is hard to ignore the large decline in attendance at Mass and reception of the sacraments, yet the Lord never seemed overly concerned with numbers; He even distrusted them.

The information can help us to gauge the effectiveness of our preaching, teaching, and engagement of God’s people; it can also be a pernicious temptation to water down the gospel just to improve our numbers. The data* below showing the change over the past fifty or so years don’t paint a pretty picture:

1970 2018
Infant Baptisms 1,089,154 615,119
Adult Baptisms 84,534 39,660
Weddings 426,309 143,082
Ordinations 805 518
Number of Priests 59,192 36,580
Number of Sisters 160,931 44,117
% Attending Mass Weekly 54.9% 21.1%

* Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA)

These are astonishing declines! Remember, too, that these dry figures represent individual human beings called to know, love, and serve God in the Church here on earth and one day in the Church Triumphant in Heaven. Every loss is a soul who may be lost forever.

Many want to attribute the decline to this or that cause and then propose solutions. The danger, of course, is merely trying to increase the numbers and forgetting that our mission is not to be popular but to be a colony of Heaven, a people set apart; we were promised persecution and the world’s hatred, not its esteem or love. It is not our goal to be hated, of course, but it is sometimes our lot.

These numbers should sober us and cause us to consider how we—clergy and laity—may have contributed to this decline.

It is not entirely our fault, however. The problem cannot be fully resolved merely through better techniques or more engaging presentations—and it certainly will not be rectified by watering down or even ignoring the Lord’s more challenging teachings.

Consider that even the greatest evangelizer who ever graced this world, Jesus, lost a significant number of followers because of His teachings. He was quite willing to do this because it is the truth that saves and sets us free. Better to save some than to dilute or disregard the truth and lose everyone. Many of Jesus’ followers deserted Him after He taught that the Eucharist was His true Body and Blood (Jn 6:66). Many people scoffed at His teaching against divorce (Mat 19:10). Even residents of His own home town turned on Him when He praises the Gentiles (Luke 4:29). No one could preach the way Jesus could (Jn 7:46). No one was more eloquent. No one more perfectly exuded the Holy Spirit than Christ. To these He added miracles and the personal authority of His holiness and divinity. Yet He, too, was rejected, even by some of His disciples. Think about how small the Church looked on that Good Friday at noon: only John, Mary, and a few other women stayed with Him. Yet never was the Church more pure and powerful than at that very moment.

Concern for the decline in our numbers is proper, but it should not cause us to be so overwrought that we abandon hope or lose faith in the teachings we have received from the Lord Himself. Consider well that the mainline (liberal) Protestant denominations have cast aside many Christian dogmas as well as nearly every moral doctrine in order to appeal to modernity, and their decline has been even more precipitous than ours.

One surprising thing to note is that Jesus did not seem to trust crowds; some of His most challenging teachings were addressed to large numbers of people:

  • Large crowds were now traveling with Jesus, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple” (Lk 14:25-26).
  • In the meantime, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, so that they stepped one on another, he began to say to his disciples first of all, “Beware you of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1).
  • Large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there …. [And Jesus said to them] “Now I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery.” His disciples said to Him, “If this is the case between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry” (Matt 19:1-2; 9-10).
  • Truly, truly, I tell you, it is not because you saw these signs that you are looking for Me, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you (John 6:26-27).

So critical were His teachings, particularly on the Eucharist, that Jesus was willing to lose some—even many—in order to save others. A watered-down gospel cannot save. Jesus would not remove unpopular teachings to gain numbers, for that would be to lose everyone and everything.

What, then, are we to do? The answer is not complicated—we are to preach the truth. St. Paul wrote to Timothy in this regard:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 4:1-5).

The task is clear. We must preach the full gospel, whether it is in season or out of season. And when it is out of season (as it certainly is today) it is all the more important that we reprove, encourage, and rebuke while patiently enduring any hardship or persecution that may result.

Perhaps this decline should encourage us to be more earnest in our efforts and to look for various effective ways to reach this increasingly doubtful, skeptical, stubborn world. New methods may be considered but never an alteration of the message itself, for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (Heb 13:8-9).

We do well to recall the strange story of the census that David took of his people (2 Samuel 24). God was displeased with the census and even issued a severe punishment for it. Why? There are many possible reasons, but something tells me that it was God’s way of saying, “David, it is none of your business how many people I have. They are mine, after all, not yours. Your strength is not in numbers but in me.” Gideon heard a similar message (Judges 7).

Jesus has sent us to the ends of the earth to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matt 28:18-20).

Whether the Church is large or small, we must sow the seed of His Word. God alone knows the harvest. No matter what the numbers look like, let’s get to back to work!

 

Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: “The Numbers” Don’t Look Good—What Should the Church Do?

40 Replies to ““The Numbers” Don’t Look Good—What Should the Church Do?”

  1. With the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima tomorrow, the call to remain faithful and prayerful , ever new and relevant ;
    here is another article on same theme , how even one saint can make a difference ; St.Michael himself is the one who was sent as the Angel of Peace to Fatima , to the three children , a sign for our times that would be under the allure of material values and its power – http://atxcatholic.com/index.php/2015/02/angels-dragons/#.XNi-545KiUk
    Every Holy Mass , moving all of creation closer to The Father .. the wounds of humanity , being taken up , unto the wounded Heart , in the Immaculate Heart , thus to set many free from all forms of enemy spirits and its lies , related depravities and false attachments , to blessed instead through the ministry of the holy angels to strengthen our wills , to that of The Father .
    How true our Lord is , even in such sayings as to how a mother forgets her labor pains afterwards ..true indeed ..Our invoking of the graces of the Consecartion to the Immaculate Heart , of the whole world – may same produce abundant fruit for all eternity .

  2. Too many options to attend Mass is now available to the people..
    2 Masses at the most were available in the 70’s…..
    Too many other attractions, together with a seared conscience
    when it comes to Sin….

  3. These numbers reflect the result of not preaching the Gospel for 50 years, Monsignor. You are one of the few who preaches the truth and not pabulum. The numbers will not be improved by further dilution. A very important metric not reported is the average age of the 21.1% who still attend mass. A simple observation at any mass shows a preponderance of grey heads. These, like me, will die off within 25 years, as the story goes, and then there was none. My hope for the future is Africa where the truth is preached and not social justice, wealth redistribution and illegal immigration.

  4. Is it only preaching, though? There are plenty of good preachers – Protestant and Catholic. As I read more and more about the three youngest cohorts (GenZ, the Millennials, and GenX in marketing-speak), I’m interested in how they have been trained to be moved to action more by the presentation than the content. In short, most of the under-50 crowd are about the experience rather than the message. I agree that the message matters, a lot. But Jesus says that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. That’s two parts doing and one part telling. I think there’s more than the message – there’s the restoration of worship that’s not just a Methodist service with valid sacraments and there’s a public devotional life that goes beyond social work. I think we need all three. We need Christ-centered preaching in the midst of Christ-centered worship which leads to Christ-centered public lives. Preaching is important, but it’s only a part of the equation.

  5. Excellent. A wise priest once pointed out to me that, in the exchange with Peter when Jesus asks him whether he loves him, the Lord never said to count his sheep. He only asks that Peter feeds and tends to his sheep.

  6. Catholic churches are reliably packed three times a year: Ash Wednesday, Christmas, and Easter. Why? It is on these days that mother Church opens wide her treasury! It’s on these days we most identify as Catholics. Could it be that all the smells and bells we’ve been encouraged to eliminate actually do serve a serious purpose? Tradition is more than show and spectacle, it’s also the handing over of sacred truths from one generation to the next. We’ve lost our Catholic Identity over these past 50 years.

  7. The trouble in the Church is Modernized Catholicism. Vatican II, whether “Spirit of” or possibly, the actual thing has drained the faith of millions. It is the “New Coke” that no one is buying. Nearly every single Traditional parish is experiencing growth. The Vatican II business model is failing. It is time to “Restore all things in Christ”.

  8. For those who like looking at numbers the 2018 figures as a percentage of the 1970 figures are as follow:
    Infant Baptisms: 56%
    Adult Baptisms: 47%
    Weddings: 34%
    Ordinations: 64%
    Number of Priests: 62%
    Number of Sisters: 27%
    % attending weekly Mass: 38%.
    Clearly, women are much less likely to become Sisters or to get married in Church. Whereas Ordinations (men) are holding up much better.

  9. It’s easy to look at these numbers and say “but we need a return to the gospel, we need to go back to Vatican II, we need to realize that its the 21% that are the true believers,” but…

    These numbers will not sustain the church much longer. Businesses depend on growth to succeed, and from a purely financial standpoint, the church in North America is a failing business.

    The three that really stood out to me were the significant decreases in the numbers of marriages, baptisms and number of nuns. Just looking around any mass at my parish you can see that the families aren’t there. It’s mostly elderly people. What happens when they pass away? You have an empty church.

    I often drive past the large Christian church on my main road, see it completely packed with people who want to be there, celebrating God and the word, then go to mass and look around and think to myself “in five years this church will be closed for lack of attendance.”

    Times are changing…the church needs to change with them. Traditions are good, and a solid mass is always good, but, it’s time for the church to take a deep look inward and figure out where it’s going to head in the next 20-30 years.

    1. As the proverbial “flock” has scattered, it would seem logical to hold the “shepherds” to an account. Who carries the crosier? There is where the fault lies.

    2. DCWriterGirl —

      I disagree. The Church is not a business, CHRIST is not a business.
      I can’t stand the nondenominational mega churches! I don’t want huge screens with state of the art sound systems. I don’t want bands playing obnoxiously loud music. I don’t need coffee and WiFi access. I can get those things anywhere. I NEED Our Lord and the message he gave us. I NEED quiet contemplation. I NEED the mystery of the faith. I NEED the break from all the fast paced, technology driven, lost society in which we live. I don’t want to be marketed to, I want my soul saved.

  10. Very powerful column, Monsignor, thank you. Just as Pope Benedict XVI stated- and I’m paraphrasing, it is better to have a smaller, more devout, robust Church than have a weakened larger Church that helps no one. To me, this exactly the opposite of Pope Francis’s ‘Big Tent’ philosophy.

    I recently started to attend a Traditional Tridentine parish- what a difference in the depth of the Liturgy and the devotion, attentiveness, decorum in the congregation compared to what I’ve experienced for the past 20 years in the typical Roman Catholic parishes I’ve attended. My true hope is that the old rite continues to be supported. My belief is that the renewal of the Church will occur from these traditional Parishes not by a weakened, modern, Protestantized Church increasingly disconnected with the traditions and teachings of the Church.

  11. I am a Presbyterian very interested in joining the Catholic church. Therefore, I have attended Mass at four different local churches. While I did enjoy attending those Masses, all four sermons were very lacking in stirring the heart to love and follow Jesus and get excited about reading and meditating on Scripture. I believe this is a contributor (not the only one) to the decrease in attendance at Mass. The sermons at my local Presbyterian church do a much better job at these things. They make me want to attend the next worship service there. I know the Catholic church has the precious gift of Jesus in the Eucharist, but our hearts also need to be invigorated with passionate teaching from Scripture.

    1. Dear Truth Seeker, Remember that the ability to worship God comes from the grace of God. It is a worthwhile spiritual practice to acknowledge that external stimulation is not needed in order to grow closer to God. Better to persevere through boring sermons in recognition of our immature needs for such stimulation, in repentance, giving what we have to God and praying for increased ability to love and worship God. We all should make time to study and learn apart from sermons, including discussions with our priests.

      Many people who agitate for the Latin Mass would also benefit by taking the same approach; having gratitude to attend a standard Mass.

      1. Dear Truth Seeker, you have identified one of our biggest failings. Many Catholics persist in the practice of the faith DESPITE weak and ineffective homilies – and look to the treasure trove of the Catholic legacy for inspiration and to reliable sources for inspiration on the internet like Bishop Barron – to nurture their spiritual life. To suggest that a desire to hear a good exposition of the text is a manifestation of immaturity is a rationalization of a deficit in the life of the Church. It is certainly admirable to persevere in the love and worship of God despite this deficit – but there should be no shaming of those who say out loud that preaching in the Catholic church is frequently sloppy, poorly prepared and delivered, and without point.

  12. Do you cast yourself as the direct will of Jesus to decide who will and will not be enriched with the gospel? Is the task so clear that you would not embrace those who could not fully relate to the entire gospel? To do what you propose is to turn a blind eye on many that could be lifted.

  13. The Summa Theologica, by Thomas Aquinas, is in three parts (five volumes), the first part (one volume) deals basically with God and Creation, as does the first the chapters of Genesis, the second part (two volumes) deals with morals, as does the old testament, and the third part (two volumes) deals with Christ and the Church, as does the new testament. The old testament captures both the mystery of Creation and the mystery of fall, in the first three chapters of Genesis, of course. Then, the rest of the old testament captures both the promises for Redemption and the ongoing fall of the human race. Thus, as regards Creation, God created the Universe, with nine choirs of angels to bridge the gaps between eternity and time, and with the Earth as a very special place for Life, an hierarchy of beings endowed with materiality, life, motion, and reason (according to Aristotle’s anatomy of the soul). The human being was created as mortal man and woman, capable of free will relative to one another and relative to God, and capable of eternal life by belief in grace, but also capable of unbelief. Creation was probably quite complicated, as you can imagine, if you consider the hypothesis that our first parents were born and grew up as biological twin children of a Southeast African advanced great ape species known to scientists as Australopithecus who took care of them on behalf of God and thus gave them morals. According to this hypothesis, our first parents were not modern human beings, but probably had intelligence comparable to the age of 6, the age, when a modern human being can reason on its own and indeed believe in God. However, the six days of creation, as seen with the eyes of the angels (our hearts), seem to correspond pairwise to materiality (Universe and Earth), life (fungi, plants, and invertebrates, and their dependency on the Sun and the Moon and possibly also the Stars), and motion (fishes, birds, and mammals, with the said great ape species). Then, human reason and its complement in belief, is on the seventh day. As for the ongoing fall and promises for Redemption, then the biblical prehistory continues through the first eleven chapters of Genesis, which was oral tradition known unto Abraham. The promises for Redemption implies an human growth, but the fall also continues, with wars and extinctions. Seth was the capable man (Homo habilis that colonized Africa), Enoch was the upright man (Homo erectus that colonized Africa, Asia, and Europe), and Noah was the wise man (Homo sapiens that colonized the whole world, apart from Antarctica). With Noah, his intelligence comparable to that of age 12, as the modern human being Jesus in the temple, morals have probably become quite complicated, still handed down without writing, of course. God made the first covenant with Noah, hence no more extinctions. Between Noah and Abraham there is a fall, and with Abraham, God makes another covenant, while the rest of humankind believes in false gods. The biblical prehistory was probably Abraham’s inspired world view. When God makes the third and last covenant with Moses, only that lineage of Abraham’s that goes through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is included. Then David rises as the king of the Jews who writes psalms, but after him, the Samararitans fall out of the covenant. The old testament seems to have been written to preserve the Holy Ghost, as the promises for Redemption concentrates on fewer and fewer people. At the end of the old testament, only the holy family is still in covenant with God. Probably the holy family were the last to speak and sing classical Hebrew. The Virgin Mary was probably born around B.C. 20, and she married Joseph who was heir to king David. Jesus was probably born 25th December B.C. 5. He died on 7th April A.D. 30. Due to an error in the definition of our calendar (Tiberius Caesar was coregent in three years before he became sole regent, and so had been regent for fifteen years total by A.D. 27, when Jesus began his public ministry at 30 years age), our calendar is three years off, but nevermind. Anyway, the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary was the conclusion to the old testament, by divine grace, and the annunciation of our Lord Jesus was the beginning of the new testament. The twelve disciples were: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John who were disciples of John the Baptist. Matthew, Thomas, Filip, and Bartholomew (Nathanael) who were regular Jews. And James, Judas, and Simon who were cousins (brethren) of Jesus, they were sons of Alphaeus/Clophas, a relative to Joseph. And Judas Iskariotes whom modern theologians portray as the political disciple who wanted a glorious Messiah for social justice and all that. The Church still lives inside the new testament. From Jesus Christ the gospel with promise for Redemption is hence preached. Various parts of humankind still lives inside the old testament, between Noah and David. The Summa Theologica speaks of four classes: pagans, Jews, catholics, and heretics. However, in the modern world, globalization, poverty, urbanisation, and digitalization implies a greater alienation towards God than ever. Personally, I like the traditional Latin mass, because it was handed down from the saints, but perhaps the modern liturgies can indeed be seen as a new pentecost to the Church.

  14. Dear Monsignor Pope
    You are spot on. We need the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, in season and out of season.

    Catechesis in recent years has been lacking both for the young – at school -and and the old. I do not blame Vatican Two. I have read all the key documents and they are fine, in some cases, inspiring. I do miss the Latin Mass and those stirring parish missions which reminded us all of just how much we needed to improve. The seriousness of sin was emphasized in those early years (I am in my late seventies) and there were always many people lined up for confession. Times have changed and I believe it is because too many of our clergy have gone soft. Too many are less than manly and forthright. Too many fail to teach the hard truths.

    The laity need good priests, holy priests, brave priests, outspoken priests willing to defend, promote and declare the teachings of the church, especially those which challenge our secular societies unflinchingly. They need to preach about the importance of chastity, the rights of the unborn, the evils of divorce, the fact that marriage is the union of male and female, the evils of contraception and the fact that though keeping all these teachings is a challenge we can cope with anything if we rely on God’s grace.

    Keep up the great work Father, we need more priests like you.

  15. Been working on this problem for 18 years now and here is my answer, difficult as it may seem: it’s the postmodern worldview, which is relativistic, secularizing, solipsistic ( narcissism and subjective emotionalism as the arbiter of truth), counter-rational, uses a tactic called rhetorical reductionism (taking any argument, breaking it down into smaller pieces and casting doubt on just one piece nullifies the whole argument), has a tendency toward reification (making a hypothetical or fiction into a concrete idea), and results in ideological ideation (ideas about life stem from extreme ideology and not reality).

  16. The numbers would be very, very much worse if the starting date had been 1960. The Church in those days was an alternate reality to secular life. A vibrant and monolithic counterweight which was deeply impressive. One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Now it seems just another aspect of the secular world and television and the media have become the new alternate reality. Truth has been replaced by fake news and worse.

  17. We may have to “bottom out” and reach unprecedented Low levels. The only consolation is that Jesus Himself said: ” ….the gates of hell will not prevail against it…

  18. Regarding what he thought of the crowds, recall also Jn 2:23-25 — “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; but Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.”

  19. Stop the hypocrisy, where church people and ministers / priests conform themselves to the world and sin up a storm on their own…If you want to be a place for believers in Christ, imitate Christ yourselves..The scandals are coming home to hurt us a people now, and only the faithful people will accept Christ’s Ways, even if it has to be a private, personal devotion away from hypocrisy in the church as we have seen it…

  20. (This is a pro-woman open letter to the pope.)
    Peace was God’s plan for the world, when he created the hierarchy of beings, endowed with materiality, life, motion, and reason. Our first parents: Adam and Hava had morals, or virtues that are good habits that have become second nature. It does not matter, whether they were created instantaneously into this state of second nature, or whether they learned it as they grew up as twin children of Australopithecine biological parents who took care of them on behalf of God. As human beings they were capable of free will relative to one another and relative to God, and as mortal man and woman they were capable of grace. God placed them in grace, with access to the tree that allowed them belief, and also to the other tree that allowed them unbelief. Peace is not easy, because it depends on our morals that must be learned and our faith. Love or charity is certainly the holy Ghost. Jesus died to redeem sinners. The male, priestly hierarchy has failed in its mission to communicate real morals within the mystical body of Christ whose Lord is God, and has left married men and women as well as other laypeople to one anothers unbeliefs, as the world has it: Lost at sea? Pope Paul VI, in encyclical Humanae Vitae, did not adress several questions. Contraception, homosexuality, and masturbation are similar (confer Isaiah 34:14 that probably refers to these three practices as demonical). However, nobody is born with morals, and since original sin, not even with the faith to accept morals from e.g. parents. Hence, human societys and states are compromises, and homosexual relationships are now a constitutional right. Which is probably better than the Church’s hypocrisy, if it is true, as rumour has it from inside sources, that most priests in the Vatican city state are homosexuals, hence incompetent to communicate basic morals. Basic morals, of sin, law, and grace, respectively, are here: Condom, Be faithful, Abstinence. So called, CBA. This is called: conversion. Men must grow up, not down.

  21. These numbers are shocking. Weddings in a Catholic ceremony are down by 66%? That means couples who are intent on establishing a Catholic family with future children brought up in the Faith have decreased alarmingly. We can’t simply say a church with smaller faithful members is inevitable or perhaps the same as when Jesus was on earth, and only a few believed in him. This is a crisis…If half of Catholics were dying of a fatal physical plague right now we would do something ASAP. What emergency measures should we be taking for the lost sheep who are dying spiritually?

  22. The way we present the Truth of Christ is different for 7 yr olds, 17 yr olds, 37 yr olds, and 77 yr olds. Well begun is half done. Effective Truth teaching to the 7 and 17 yr olds is vital. But it is the 37 yr olds that bring them, or not bring them, to Church and to class. So we have to reach the 37 yr olds with the TRUTH.

    We cannot waterdown the Truth. But we need to know what barriers have been built and why. Excellent communicators consider their audience. It is important to get them to open their minds and hearts in order to hear the message of the Truth of Christ. What is preventing them from opening their minds and hearts?

  23. I think we are going to see things get worse, not better. Unless we start complying with Heaven’s plan for ending “the Crisis.” Part of that plan involves a request made by Our Lady of Amercia many decades ago. The request: that the Bishops of America solemnly process the statue of Our Lady of America into the National Basilica in D.C. Our Lady promised that once this happens, spiritual miracles GREATER than the physical miracles at Lourdes will take place. Sadly, the US bishops have yet to comply with this small request by Our Lady.

    Might I suggest that every Catholic who reads my comment here, petition their local bishop to have the request of Our Lady of America finally honored in 2019.

    God Bless.

  24. ‪“What should the Church do?” The lies in what the Church should call on most Catholic colleges, universities and seminaries to UNDO – to cease teaching that the Gospels are of anonymous second-generation origin and therefore that everything in the Gospels can be considered mere hearsay, non-eyewitness evidence. ‬
    ‪Unfortunately, 50 years of what Pope Benedict XVI called “thin-air” Jesus instruction in most of our universities (and seminaries) – the Markan Priority Two Source Hypothesis (TSH) – has, by negating Mt 16:18-19, in effect reduced the Church to just one of the many thousands of Christian faith traditions. ‬
    ‪In the last two decades, however, more credible Matthean priority exegesis refutes the TSH and reaffirms Mt 16:18-29, as explained in this 37-minute video: ‬
    https://youtu.be/0DveYoU707g
    and supporting articles on my website, https://7stepcatholic.org.

  25. To Stephen Garland. Thank you for your reply and I am trying to understand what you are saying. I agree only partially that external stimulation is not needed in order to grow closer to God. This method may work with a spiritually mature person but to many people who are immature, they need someone who is engaging enough to jump start them towards spiritual maturity. If Catholic priests don’t start doing a better job at really getting people interested by passionate and engaging teaching (like many Protestant minister I’ve heard), the Catholic church will continue loosing members. Good teaching makes God’s word relevant in a Christian’s life. Also, since the Catholic Church has the fullness of what God wants to reveal to Christians, they have the most to get people excited about regarding God’s grace and living a fully Christian life. God wants to use priests, ministers, etc… to convey His Gospel by being excited about what they are teaching. I don’t call this “stimulation”, I call this meeting these immature hearts where they are at.

    1. Hi Truth Seeker, My advice was principally for you. I consider that you have a keen interest in worshiping, understanding and getting closer to God because you visit and comment on this website and see value in the Catholic Church. I hope you take the next step. Accepting your priests with humility and gratitude will help you get closer to God. God uses foolish things so only those who have faith will be saved. God provides wisdom and understanding to the humble and pure of heart. A simple and humble man praying the Rosary with a dedicated and loving heart will be naturally given much wisdom and understanding with out hearing great sermons. I have a friend like that!

      1. To Stephen Garland. I appreciate the wisdom you are sharing. Those are all good points. This is off-topic from all these posts, but the primary thing stopping me for becoming a Catholic is that my wife is not interested in joining with me. So if I did join the Catholic church, it would cause a major division and I mean a very major division in our marriage (but not divorce). So I’m not sure a major division like honors God either. So you can pray for me in that regard. Thanks.

  26. I believe the reason for the decline is quite simple. It is the very reason why I was away from the Church for some 15 years. I failed to put love at the center of my relationship with God. If we teach people how to converse with God, to rely on Him throughout the course of their days, the world and the Church will be in a better place.

  27. When the Church threw traditionalism out the door, the masses left also, those of religious and laity. It pained me to see so much nonsense going on when I’m at Mass, from the chatting and laughing among parishioners, to the priests vapid homilies, to the complete lack of reverence during the Consecration. Not to mention the immodest and sloppy attire of people marching up to Communion dressed in sleeveless dresses, short shorts or mini skirts, or jeans and football jersey’s. Do you want to know why there is such a lax in attendees? Because there is no reverence on the altar. Turn the altar around and bring us back to the roots and the way Mass was said in the early years when throngs of people went every Sunday, Holy days of Obligation and Feast Days. People hunger for it…instead of asking who is attending, ask them why they aren’t…I think the answers will be different. But when you go to the Latin Masses, the Tridentine, you can hear a pin drop during Consecration, and the pews are packed with veiled women and girls dressed modestly and men in business casual or suits. The disparities are obvious.

  28. Frankly, the only person who can fix this mess, in the Church and the world, is the Holy Spirit. The Church, for the most part, has become like Ezekiel’s vision, scattered dry bones, empty of the Holy Spirit.

    Finally, the Church is recognizing the fruit coming out of Medjugorje, the spiritual lungs of Europe. The Spirit is alive and vibrant in Medjugorje. May He be so throughout the world! Veni Sancte Spiritus!

  29. A reason today, very simply, is that Christian believers are showing a very unloving image to the world. People don’t want anything to do with hypocrites.

  30. So many traditions that have been eliminated or made optional served such an important purpose. Once gone, how do we get them back? I am referring to simple but meaningful things for example chapel veils for women and receiving communion on the tongue while kneeling. Mass is sacred and reverent not casual, which may have contributed to the optional attendance mindset of so many Catholics. Perhaps a result of many changes from Vatican II?

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