How is the recession impacting churches? ABC’s Good Morning America visited St. Martin of Tours parish in Gaithersburg, MD and Catholic Charities’ Archdiocesan Legal Network to see how the economic downturn is hitting home. Watch the video here: Religion & Recession
The following comment and question came in from a reader and presents a very soul-searching insight.
I am a Catholic in my mid thirties, raising a family and faithfully attending Mass. But I must admit I have some concern that the Church is missing the mark in reaching out to people my age and younger. It seems that all the concerns of the Church are about internal things like translations and where tabernacles should be. Don’t get me wrong, as a faithful Catholic those things are important to me. But these discussions take all our time, and, meanwhile, the world around us gets more and more secular. Many young people I know are practical atheists; God and the Church aren’t even on their radar. Yet we continue to go on and on with our internal preoccupations. Any comments?
Yes, this is a very important insight. There is always the temptation for any organization with humans involved to become primarily inward-looking and to lose sight of its essential mission. Obviously our fundamental mission is to announce Jesus Christ, to go to all the nations and teach them what the Lord Jesus taught for our salvation. We are to bring people into living, conscious contact with Jesus Christ; to bring them into a transformative relationship with Him through Word, Sacrament, and witness. But too easily we can spend all our time consumed with internal procedures and policy, debates about furniture and buildings, etc.
As you point out, some attention has to be paid to internal issues; there can be some very important theological and faith-related issues in such details. But the danger is that this becomes all-consuming. Meanwhile we have lost the culture around us, and even more sadly, many indviduals.
What to do? I would answer that we as a Church should continue the very discussion you have begun. As we both seem to agree, the answer is not simply to disregard internal issues, but rather to continue to summon the Church to her fundamental mission. Your insight is powerful and is a profound call to awakening. If we do not listen to your wake-up call, we risk the proverbial fate of “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” Some will counter that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church, hence we could never be the Titanic. True, but no such promise is given to our western world, which increasingly has lost its way through secularism. Souls are being lost and error is spreading. We have to renew the good fight and take our message back out into the world as never before. That is one hope that underlies both this blog and the fundamental question asked by our Archbishop: Longing for something? Maybe it’s God!
Fr. Robert Barron struggles with the very problem you have raised in the following video—one of his best commentaries ever. He also has proposed some solutions.
From a reader comes this Question:
Some churches in the Archdiocese, including the Cathedral, offer a Latin Mass. Some have a “traditional” Latin Mass. Someone told me they’re different, but couldn’t say how. Can you explain it?
The Mass is celebrated almost entirely in the Latin Language. The sermon would obviously be in English and the readings could be read in English after their proclamation in Latin.
The Mass is celebrated with the priest and the people all facing the same direction. Some have negatively described this as “the priest having his back toward the people.” But the truer description is that the priest and the people are all facing the same direction looking to the liturgical east, looking for Christ to come again.
The liturgy is conducted almost entirely by the Priest and servers in the sanctuary. The faithful follow the mass using hand missals and can therefore pray the Mass with this assistance.
Holy Communion is received kneeling at the altar rail.
In addition there are many other elaborate details and ceremony that are simplified in the new Mass (which the Pope calls the “Ordinary Form) currently in use. In the Traditional Latin Mass There are many more signs of the cross, genuflections, bows and other gestures.
The older form of the Mass also features certain prayers such as the prayers at the foot of the altar and the prayers after low mass that have been dropped in the new, Ordinary Form, of the Mass.
In the Archdiocese of Washington the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in Latin is celebrated regularly at St. Mary Mother of God in downtown Washington, at Our Lady Queen of Poland (part of St. John the Evangelist Parish) in Silver Spring, and St. Francis De Sales in Benedict Maryland.
The Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated in three forms: Low Mass (which is recited by the Priests and servers), Sung Mass (in which the priest sings many parts of the Mass), and Solemn Mass (the most elaborate and beautiful form in which the priest is assisted by a deacon and subdeacon and much of the Mass is sung in elaborate Gregorian Chant).
I am privileged to be able to celebrate the Mass in this older form about once a month. It is a very beautiful liturgy and gives an experience of being in touch with Catholic heritage. This is the form of the Mass that most of the saints of old knew and experienced. Since the Pope has made this liturgy more widely available many Catholics have begun to rediscover some of the beauty of this form of the Mass. Some attend it exclusively, others every so often. But it is another example of the rich diversity of the expression of the One Catholic faith here in Washington and throughout the world. Below are some YouTube videos of this Mass in case you have never seen a Mass of this kind. The second one is actually an excerpt from a movie showing once again that we can find expressions of our Catholic faith in our wider culture.
Incidentally, it is also possible to celebrate the newer (ordinary form) of the Mass in the Latin language. This is what is done at St. Matthews Cathedral. The mass is celebrated just like it usually is today (with the priest facing the people etc.) except that it is largely in Latin.
How many adults do you think are preparing to join the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Washington this Easter?
Post your guess and check back in with me on Monday. The winner will receive the promise of my prayer for their special request.
Consider enhancing your faith in this Lenten season. There are many on-line opportunities to listen to talks and view short videos. Here are just a few.
The daily readings of the Mass can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/nab/.
A 3-minute video sermon based on the readings of the day can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/video/reflections.shtml.
Short videos on Catholic current events, etc. can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/video/.
A short video series on the Sacraments can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/video/sacraments.shtml.
Inspirational videos of living the faith are found here: http://www.usccb.org/video/sacraments.shtml.
The Catholic Standard, the paper of the Archdiocese is on line here: http://cathstan.org/.
Why, heck, you can even listen to my own sermons which I post here in mp3 format: http://frpope.com/audio/recordings.php.
Consider some of the resources as you grow in your faith this Lent!