In the last few months, we have all read about many of the disasters leading up to and flowing out of the synod on the family. During my lifetime, there are volumes of events and situations in the Church that have been disastrous. As a young boy, my family attended St. Anthony’s Church in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Every Sunday, the church was filled to overflowing. People lined the aisles along both side aisles all the way to the front of the church. The narthex was also filled and people were on the steps right down to the sidewalk.
Today, it is just the opposite. Most parishes have fewer people than they had for daily Mass back then. Children are often dropped off for Religious Education and picked up right after, never entering the church for Mass. Churches with the best attendance have a school, and it is expected that they attend Mass regularly. Many of the children that come on Sunday disappear after received 1st Holy Communion and Confirmation. Some parishes have full pews, because they have cut back on their Mass schedules and with few Masses it gives an appearance that Mass attendance hasn’t decreased. But in most New England parishes, all you have to do is compare the hair color and you get the right picture of the situation.
Along with the drop in Mass attendance is the drop in baptisms and weddings. The Rhode Island Catholic reported: “In 2012, of the 11,655 live births recorded, only 3,228, or 28.14 percent were baptized Catholic. For the same period, of the 6,695 couples who sought marriage licenses in Rhode Island in 1975, 3,458, or 51.65 percent were united in Catholic ceremonies. In 2012, only 16.26 percent, or 1,043 of the 6,412 couples tying the knot were wed in the Catholic Faith.”
Funerals Masses are also on decreasing greatly. A few years ago, I anointed a gentleman who attended daily Mass. I was shocked to learn a few weeks later, that he was buried without a Mass of Christian burial. Just scan the local obits, and the picture becomes clear. Many of the “Catholic” names no longer list a Mass of Christian Burial. The non-practicing family have no place for the Church in their lives, so they have a service in the funeral home and don’t even think of the Mass. The poor deceased is deprived of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for their soul.
Why has all this happened? There is not just one reason, and I will only list a few. 50 years of nonsense from the pulpit didn’t help. Priests who didn’t want to offend anyone talked about how much God loves us and how much we must love one another in every homily. The 70’s idea of the “newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other.” Nothing about becoming holy. Not a word about personal responsibility. And, God forbid they talk about the horrors of abortion and artificial birth control. The message was love, love, love to the point of being nauseated. And quite often, it wasn’t real love at all, because because it left out commitment, long suffering, and sacrificing for the other.
The priest scandal of our times has helped destroy peoples faith and empty our churches. Bishops and priests who knew about the depraved behavior of the few has soiled reputations of every good priest for at least the next 100 years. There were personnel who shielded bishops from people who had real needs and grave problems. Some bishops isolated themselves and refused to listen to the cries of wounded people. Priests who tried to help were sent off to the Siberia of their diocese.
Liturgical abuse caused (and in some places still causes) many wounds. A blind eye was turned as priests acted like clowns, tinkering with the sacred, turning the Mass into a show of self adulation, and sacrilege. Fabricated prayers, cheap & secular music, and every one can imagine was not beyond reality. The whole “celebration” into a theater. And element of surpass gave something new each week to keep the attention of the people. Many got bored and left. There are better entertainers, with more talent, far and wide.
And now, before our eyes, we see the fulfillment of the messages of our Lady at Akita( 1973): “Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops.” There is so much confusion coming from some places in the Church, that the laity no longer know what to believe about marriage, the family, homosexuality or anything else.
But, despite it all. Despite some bad bishops & cardinals, pedofile priests, poor catechesis, crazy Liturgies, and a world-wide apostasy of the Catholic faith, my faith in the Church is strong and will grow stronger because of it all. Jesus warned us of trials and tribulations. He left us one, very important promise that can reassure us in these difficult time. “Thou art Peter, and it is upon this rock that I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18)
So if your disillusioned, don’t worry about men who waver. They will come and go, but the Church is here to stay. If we haven’t destroyed the Church by now, nobody can! This is the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Persevere, He’s cleaning His house. And in the end, She will shine brightly!