The titanic Catholic church in America is sinking. I think this is happening because: 1. Young people are drifting away from a church that seems irrelevant to them. 2. Our priests preach the Gospel out of the shadows of the sex scandal. 3. Secular culture in our country does not respect holiness and even a Catholic president champions the federal right to abortions. Our bishops seem not to notice that the titanic Catholic Church has sprung titanic leaks.
What is the response of the leaders of the Catholic Church in the USA to these issues? Recently, the Bishop’s conference announced a liturgical bombshell: From now on all prayers at their conclusion must omit “one” from prayers that end “…one God forever and ever.” The week before that edict the National Conference of U.S. Bishops issued a tweak to imposing ashes on Ash Wednesday. Before that were detailed instructions on how to purify your hands before giving communion on the tongue.
Our titanic church is sinking, and our officers keep reminding us of the rules of etiquette necessary to continue with our formal dinners.
People are leaving the church because our leaders have failed us. Priests continue to sustain old Mass schedules while more and more people stay home. Around 30% of Catholics attend the Eucharist on Sunday. The sacrament of Marriage is a rare occasion in many of our churches, though young people live together without seeing any need for vows or the other churchy stuff.
Priests increase opportunities for Confessions and the same penitents come to cleanse their hearts of every defect, every week. We used to refer to them as scrupulous Catholics, as sick at heart. Now, we indulge these people who search anxiously for purification but seem to miss the presence of Jesus in their lives. How is it that the Sacrament of Reconciliation has become spiritual direction rather than an absolution and regeneration experience? By the way, despite canon law’s rule that Catholics confess once a year (if they are conscious of mortal sin in their lives) most Catholics haven’t received the sacrament in years and are not planning to, either.
Priests schedule Holy Hours attended weekly by a handful of isolated parishioners and proudly list those holy hours as something significant in church bulletins. I guess some priests think that simply going through the rite is enough. Forgive an old priest’s musings, but I remember when Churches were filled for Forty Hours Devotions, and weekly Benediction was a powerful testimony to a believing Church.
By the way, why are our church doors shut and locked other than an hour before Mass and an hour afterward? What has happened to our belief in the sacred, real presence of Jesus in our churches? Why can’t I stop in my church anytime to pray?
Why hasn’t the Church proclaimed repentance and fasting in the face of the moral contagion that God has sent upon our lives? Why isn’t there a cry from the Church calling the Z-generation to the Church? I think young people are fleeing the Church because we are irrelevant to them. And they are right when they say “No one notices that I am missing. You don’t need me, and I don’t need you.” Our church is d-u-l-l! And has no skin in the game of life that our people live each day.
I don’t have much courage, either. But I am not a leader. Our Church cries out for direction. We need inspired leadership in our Church. Our members are worried about dangerous icebergs. Where are the ice captains, those who can guide us through these frigid, dangerous waters?