Where are the young Catholics? All I see most Sundays are “Boomers” and their X-generation progeny. Could it be that the Boomers come with good hearts and ready familiarity because after all, church is part of life, a good part.? Meanwhile the Millennial and Z-generation stay home with the used, abused, confused and refused of every generation..
There are no young people at Mass this morning. Well, just a few children. Fewer babies. The core of our church communities used to be families. Husband and wife and kids and sometimes grandma and grandpa came to church together. Our church appears now to be dying of lack of family.
Father Casey Cole, OFM, a young bright Franciscan priest has a website where he tackles dwindling church attendance. He says we first have to admit this is happening. We can’t be satisfied with a church that isn’t maintaining itself much less growing as church. But few priests and bishops seem to be worried about it much. By the way, what happened to the new evangelization?
He thinks lack of attendance. is due to the following:
—The revelation of the scandal of sex abuse by priests and the cover-ups by bishops.
— the dueling liberal versus conservatism of church liturgies. Vatican II liberals whose liturgies are casual events hosted by the pastor and his crew. Conservatives ringing bells once more during liturgies, Reading their sermons. Collections restored to ushers and baskets. Tridentine liturgies. (See St. John Cantius Church, Chicago. vs Novus Ordo in Latin and English) People are tired of the liturgical battlefields.
—Priests debating and cheerleading for their side of the Vatican II reforms. Priests who critize and condemn from the pulpit and rail against other priests, their own bishop and the entire church they feel is slipping into the pit of hell. (So they put us through purgatory about it.)
— The church has become irrelevant. I think this is the chief reason for the decay of the Church community. One man told me that it didn’t seem to make a difference if he went or not. “I didn’t miss it nor did the church let me know that they missed me and my family.”
–People in our western culture do not see the need to believe in a God. Also, we have not learned how to teach doctrine in a way that people understand, appreciate and can live with.
Our culture has two idols: the cult of self and the worship of money. The cult of self symbolized by selfies and endless concern with one’s image. My brand becomes my idol. Christian love in the midst of suffering is impossible. Everything is funneled thru my understanding and my grasping for image worship. How I look, how I sound, how many followers I have, whether I am an influencer or not. I must be iconic.
Then there is the worship of money. I have more than you. My idea is so valuable that I am an entrepreneur. It’s not important what I invent but how much I can sell it for. Then, I’ll move on to another invention and another sale. The name of the name is greed and addiction to more and more of what feeds my importance. Elon Musk is the idol here. Right now he is sitting on top of the world counting his marbles and twittering..
Our idols are silver and gold. The glittering ego that I want the world to see and the gold I display. This corruption of society is deeply affecting the community of the church. I know one preacher who was encouraged to develop his own brand where he could sell himself as a great retreat master. We extract huge sums to maintain our cathedrals and ethnic monuments to worship while the people sit in beautiful but sparsely populated churches.
— The church can’t seem to concern itself with the poor. We don’t know who they are and what they need so we contribute money so that the natives in Africa have WIFI so that we can sell them stuff. Commercialization of radio, TV and social media extracts money and attention so that it can produce more programing to sell more stuff.
FATHER CASEY says that adults are not teaching their children the relevance of the Church because it is honestly not relevant.
WE NEED TO FIX IT
—by serious catechesis of our children. Catholic schools today are often run by educators who hold faith in a secondary position. Religion is taught like a secular subject and often without heart. Often not energized by the Gospel. Our Catholic school system was a reaction to a great need of education in an immigrant church. We here in the U.S. are no longer an immigrant church.
—by authentic worship. Liturgy focused on Him and not us. It should be a Thanksgiving Service. It should be a shouldering service where we are encouraged to take up our cross as Jesus taught us to do and to lay down the burdens of sefl and greed.
—By restoration of the cross as in “Take up your cross and follow Me.” That cross is absent in much of our preaching.
— Evangelization. We need to learn how to do it if it means kneeling down before our protestant brothers and sisters in ministry and asking them how we do that.
— by ceasing to use the sacrament of reconciliation as the sole path to conversion. Are we never clean until we “go to Confession every day and scrutinize for every sin? Let’s somehow give respectful time for people to get counselling and direction and a BLESSING and prayer for healing now.