Monday, August 8, 2016
WHO'S TO BLAME?
My hubby and I are Catholics and go to Mass every Sunday. Over the past 2 years or so we've noticed a significant decline is attendance. I would venture to say there were only about 75 folks in church yesterday.
On the way home I again lamented that it was only a matter of time before our home parish would close. And again we discussed what could be the reasons why people aren't filling the pews. We both offered what we believe could be contributing factors:
1. Exposure to decades of priests' pedophilia
2. Decline in societal morality
3. Lack of interest in personal spiritual growth
4. Outdated services causing boredom/disinterest
5. A feeling of disconnect/absence of fellowship
6. Ineffectual church leadership
7. Ever-present solicitations for monetary contributions
8. Family disintegration
9. Decline in the number of Catholic schools available/affordable
10.All of the above
By no means have I listed these points in any particular order, and certainly by no means have I listed all of the myriad of possibilities. But I'm certain that what we've discussed has something to do with the problem Catholic churches all over the country are now facing.
WHO'S TO BLAME? The Church and its leadership, parishioners, lack of spiritual education, society, family disconnect? Oh, yes, all that I've mentioned and much more that I've omitted, must take responsibility for this sad state of affairs. And if we fail to come up with viable solutions soon, the very existence of the Catholic Church is in jeopardy.
Maybe we can't rectify all of these problems quickly, but we must start somewhere. How about #4? I know that the components of the Mass are set, but the energy in which its celebrated definitely needs to be rejuvenated. As I look around on any given Sunday, I see many who aren't engaged in prayer or song. Parents are trying to keep their youngsters under control with iPhones, coloring books, action heroes, etc. Some of the teens are chatting incessantly, and a goodly number of elders are nodding off. Perhaps if the commentators and music leaders executed their duties with more clarity and enthusiasm, the congregation would be more inclined to participate. Maybe if the priests' sermons focused on delivering scripture as it applies to current issues, people would listen more intently. And if we could change up the format just a tad, the boredom could be alleviated significantly. How about a Polka Mass, an inclusion of a dance interpretation, a guest choir? I'm sure many of you have other suggestions that would enliven the Mass to such a degree that people couldn't help but be eager to return each and every Sunday.
And then there's #5. There are so many folks who complain about the lack of fellowship in their home parishes. They say there are certain groups of people, cliques if you will, who run everything making it impossible for them to become a part of any function. You might argue that if an individual really wants to help, they are more than welcome. Certainly that's true, but many personalities are shy and unassuming, and unless they are personally invited by a member of said group, they don't have the social skills to move themselves forward. Perhaps a 'meet-and-greet' gathering sponsored by the different organizations in the Church could be held at the beginning of September to entice folks to join them in their efforts throughout the year. Maybe if group members reached out more to their own neighbors and friends inviting them to participate in certain functions, would their organizational membership grow, and the Church benefit exponentially.
WHO'S TO BLAME? WE ALL ARE! AND IF WE DON'T TRY TO RECTIFY THIS DIRE SITUATION WITH PROACTIVE SOLUTIONS, I'M AFRAID SUNDAY MASS WILL SOON BE A THING OF THE PAST!