Monday, January 07, 2008

"The Australian Catholic Church has never known how to evangelise" - Barry Kearney

I have posted some of Barry Kearney's ideas before. Barry is businessman who is a parishioner at Park Orchards. He is a man with his heart in the right place and ready to think of some ways of doing things in a new way. Here is his latest offering in an open letter which I have decided to post for all to read. Incidentally, many of the suggestions he makes for better parish outreach are employed by my wife's Lutheran parish. It is a parish that is growing leaps and bounds while surrounding Lutheran parishes are struggling. (Although it should be noted that their greatest growth area is not in new Christians but in reviving the active practive of the faith in lapsed or irregularly practicing Christians--still that also seems to be what Barry is addressing here).
Dear Fellow Catholic,

The Australian Catholic Church has never known how to evangelise

Apart from official statements from some Church leaders, "Evangelism" is a dirty word amongst most Catholics. It’s something "born again" Protestants do, and not at all in the Australian Catholic tradition.

If the Apostles had adopted that attitude, there would be no Christian Church anywhere in the world.

In the 1950’s when I was young, the Catholic Church in Australia was composed of mainly Irish, Italian, Polish, Dutch etc immigrants and their descendants. Churches were full. There were plenty of vocations to the priesthood and to the religious orders. Catholic Children went to mainly Catholic Schools, where they were educated every day in their faith. When Catholics married non-Catholics any children were usually brought up as Catholics. And Catholics had big families. Catholics were taught that it was a commandment of the Church to attend Mass weekly and on Holy Days of Obligation. And most Catholics attended Mass and Confession regularly.

It was too easy. There was no apparent need for evangelising. Even though Catholics were only 25 to 30% of the population, there was no attempt to reach out to the "non-Catholics". We had a constant stream of Catholics migrating to Australia from "Catholic" countries.

Our mainly Irish Bishops came from a country where almost everyone was a Catholic. No need to evangelise in Ireland.

In an article I wrote in March last year "Blueprint for the Future Church - Strive to Thrive not just Survive" I said:

"About 27% of Australians profess to be Catholic. A seemingly impressive statistic. And yet only about 10% of Australian Catholics actually practice their faith. This means that only 2.7% of Australians are attending Mass regularly, and the other 97.3% do not. A person who does not attend Mass regularly is rejecting the very essence of what it means to be Catholic.

Despite this, and the almost complete lack of vocations, the Catholic Hierachy and Priests, Parish leaders and Parishioners still cannot conceive of making major changes to the status quo to actively evangelise. With 90% of Catholics not attending Mass regularly we can start by evangelising to our own non-attending Church members, but we do not.

People are campaigning for priests to be married, for women priests. These issues must be considered [One point on which I might disagree with you, Barry!] – but they are not the problem [I take it you mean that that would not be the solution, in which case I heartily agree], and they are outside the power of Parishes, Priests and Bishops [and even, with regard to women priests, the Church] to change. Our major problem is not a shortage of priests, it is a shortage of active Catholics [right you are there, Barry].

At the moment we actually have enough priests. But too many Parishes and Mass centres and too many masses ie not enough people attending to make many Parishes viable. In my own Parish 2 years ago we had our own Parish priest, 2 Mass centres and 3 Masses, with about 180 in total attending every week. Now we have 1 Mass centre, 1 Mass and 100 attending. And we share a PP with a neighbouring parish. Our Parish was not viable 2 years ago. It certainly is not viable now, unless we change our attitude. We could have 500 attending one Mass every week, if only we wanted to ie 25% of local Catholics. (Imagine if we had 100% of Catholics = 2,000 every week. Imagine if we then started evangelising to the 8000 non-Catholics). To do this we have to evangelise. We have about 100 families attending our Parish primary school, but only about 8 of those families attend Mass regularly.

So what can we do? Some Church leaders are looking to World Youth Day in 2008 to bring new life in to the Church. It will certainly help, a tiny bit, but will in no way solve the problem.

The 16 to 25 yo age group is almost non existent in Mass attendance. If they do start attending after WYD, what kind of Church will they find? Will they be welcomed? Listened to? Would they keep attending?

I sometimes try to imagine non-Christians attending a Catholic Mass service for the first time because they are interested in finding out what Catholicism is all about. Eg a 21 yo male non Christian goes to the local Parish Mass. He enters the Church. Nobody welcomes him. He sees a mainly female congregation, mostly over 50 yo. He sees only a handful (or none) of people his own age. He does not know when to stand (at one stage he is standing up – he is at the front to see what is happening – he looks around and everyone else is sitting or kneeling), when to kneel, everyone seems to know the responses and prayers, but he has no idea. The singing is bad. Music is taped. Most people arrive just on time or late. When Communion is offered, everyone gets up in his row. He is not sure what to do. In the end he stays seated, confused. Alone.

After Mass he is ignored as he leaves the Church. He looks for the Church office, it is in another building across the car park. No sign telling him where. He finds it. It is closed. Sign says open 10am-4pm week days. He works week days. He feels completely unwanted, alienated.

The following week he attends a Baptist Church. He is welcomed by 2 young attractive 18 yo girls when he arrives. There are young people everywhere. There are not many prayers, but they are clearly shown on the 2 huge screens. The singing is enthusiastic. The band fantastic. He is given a pamphlet with information about the Church and how to join. He is invited to visit the information kiosk in the same building as he leaves. The person next to him starts chatting to him when the service ends. Encourages him to visit the kiosk and volunteers to take him there. As he leaves he sees there is a canteen with tables. People are sitting around ordering coffee. There is an excited buzz. (I attended a local Baptist service – this is an exact description of my experience).

I am not saying that we should emulate the Baptists in every way. But we must change the way we offer the Mass. There is no point evangelising to young people eg WYD, if the Mass is completely unwelcoming. There is no point advertising and running evangelising courses eg Alpha, RCIA, if the Mass experience is a turn off. Every activity of the Church should be based on evangelising.

But my experience shows that almost all the hard work of Priests and lay people is directed at serving the less than 10% of Catholics who attend mass ie it is directed inwards, not outwards. We are supposed to be a light shining in the community. Not a light shining in a closed community. Whilst we should service the very few that attend Mass, our aim should not be to retain, but to gain! To "Strive to Thrive not just Survive".

Surely that is what Christ told us. When the Holy Spirit came to the Apostles at Pentecost, they went out and evangelised all over the world. They did not stay in their own communities.

To achieve this we cannot tinker at the edges. We need to completely rethink our Parish approach. Every activity should have evangelism as a basis. We need to be radical, at least in the context of Australian Catholic Parish life. We must not be afraid of upsetting the status quo, even feeling unpopular. We must look at the Catholic primary and secondary schools and how we can use them to change attitudes to our Faith.

We must make the Mass more meaningful and welcoming. This does not mean changing the essence of the Mass. No Baptist service can offer anything like Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. We have to examine every part of the Mass and the parish operation, like a movie editor, frame by frame, to ensure that everything from the sign out the front, to the seating, the music, the mass sheets, church office (location and hours of opening), the foyer, how the Eucharist is received, how we greet, meet, seat attendees, how we congregate after Mass, is based on evangelising.

We must invite and welcome all members of our whole community eg using signage, regular letter box drops to every household. We must look at using websites and email to communicate.

The Parish schools are a great strength. Catholics and non-Catholics want to send their children to them. If we based attendance at our Parish Schools as a test of the health of our Church, we would be a huge success. But in a way they are a weakness too. In the old days, every Parish had one or more Parish priests, plus a primary school. So we learnt to think in terms of small local parishes. With most Catholics in those days attending Mass and with strong religious orders to support them, the parishes thrived.

We had multiple Masses all well attended. We even added Saturday evening Masses.
With much smaller numbers of attendees, we are still trying to offer the same number of Mass centres and services. At most Masses Churches are from 10 to 30% full. Yet if Masses are cancelled, or Mass centres closed, there is an outcry.

What can we do? Whatever we do, it must be a radical new approach. It must take us outside our comfort zone. It will probably cause short term upset and resistance with some priests and parishioners.

It must begin by being based on better presenting the Mass, the Eucharist and the Parish as an identity. All of that is evangelizing. But it must then proceed to more focussed outreach.

It needs to look at closing many Mass centres, reducing the number of services until we need more. By having less services, we can provide better services eg better music, choirs, more focussed welcoming, after Mass follow up for visitors, new parishioners. We can have an enquiry desk. It would reduce some costs. Young people attending would be more likely to meet others.

Children’s Liturgy can be provided and be better attended. It is a powerful way of helping primary children enjoy the liturgy, and encouraging their parents to make the sacrifice of getting them and themselves to Mass.

Priests would have less Masses to attend, so there would be a short term solution to the lack of priests. And they would not be under so much pressure every Sunday.
We need our leaders to show strength, courage and real leadership. They need to make the tough decisions, and explain them clearly. This means our Bishops, Priests and Parish Leaders.

There should be a centralised Diocesan body (compromising clergy and laity) monitoring and leading Parish changes eg setting up trials, measuring effectiveness, visiting Parishes to see what help they need, rating them on resources, performance, attendance. There should be a national body meeting at least every 3 months to report and discuss successes and failures.

Our aim should be to evangelise to every Australian. Unless we make that our starting point, we are not following Jesus’ teaching. Unless we do that, vocations will continue to fall.

Or we can just keep doing what we have always done, for an ageing congregation, with even faster ageing priests.

Yours in Christ

Barry Kearney

5-7 Curry Rd Park Orchards VIC 3114
Tel Bus 03 9761 6346 EXT 5
Tel AH 03 9879 9121
Mobile: 0412 379 253

11 Comments:

At Monday, January 07, 2008 1:57:00 pm , Anonymous Mike said...

I think he has a very good point - and some good ideas there. I certainly agree that a lot of parishes should be merged - but that is so incredibly unpopular with the people who still attend, that I can understand the reticence. People tend to get very . . . parochial(?) about their local parish community, even (or particularly?) when it's a small Mass Centre that is really a part of another parish.

I think the Baptists he speaks of have an advantage in that their style of worship (I understand) is more conducive to the chatty, excited welcoming of people, taking them to their chairs and mingling afterwards. A lot of that wouldn't fit well at Mass, at least not a Mass of the kind that Pope Benedict seems to be pushing for. But we could do a good 90% of it, leaving the church itself as a reverent, quiet atmosphere.

Could perhaps I quibble with him by saying that the Mass should be oriented primarily towards worship rather than evangelisation? There need not be a strict dichotomy of course, but depending on your interpretation, there could be some clashes. What would we have in mind when we're examining the Mass like a movie editor, while simultaneously saying that it's not a performance? And is he asking that we receive communion is a way that is "more welcoming", or one that shows the majesty of God more? Same question would be raised for music. I'm not saying that Mr Kearney has this wrong, but it's a bit open as to what he means.

What is it like at your wife's Lutheran parish? Tell us more! Would her services be fairly liturgical, solemn etc, and if so, how does the evangelisation operate in that framework?


I remember Children's Liturgy from my childhood years. I'm not knocking it at all - it wasn't a bad thing - but I don't think it was really that incredible. Late teen and early adult is where you're more likely to make a difference.

 
At Monday, January 07, 2008 9:42:00 pm , Blogger TJW said...

I'm not a theist, let alone a Catholic any more, but even I agree with what that guy's saying.

The competition is fierce, especially the fundamentalist cults that play on the theological and historical ignorance of the average Catholic. I had to teach myself what a mortal sin was and this was at age 29 after 12 years of Catholic education! No wonder so many so many end up with a warped idea of the thing they're rejecting.

 
At Monday, January 07, 2008 11:26:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Barry's points are all too true - I've just visited a parish in a certain Australian city and it felt dead, or rather dying. Too many parishes breathe the odour of decay, as if the motions are being gone through until Father retires and the vast majority of attendees go off to nursing homes... Awful to put it this way, but as a young Catholic I really feel it.

From what I have heard, many parishes in the past, all through the last decades of declining attendance, have tried captivating youth through 'rock' or 'youth' Masses, most of which were just dreadful, because they chucked the baby out with the bathwater and emulated the features of the Baptist service - 'happy-clappy, (no disrespect intended) -but without the reverence appropriate to the Holy Eucharist. None of such attempts have succeeded; cases, such as that notorious Brisbane parish where the baptisms have long been invalid, where NewChurch has been most in evidence have maintained a clientele of agitators and trendies, but I don't believe they have expanded, or drawn in others, apart from perpetuating a certain clique.

Barry accurately describes the way that taped music, barely-alive tuneless ragged singing and a general lack of capable personnel continue to frustrate attempts to improve the standard of Mass.

Increasingly, beyond my disagreement with the level of dissent among the clergy, etc., I see the main problem as a depressingly low level of performance, a hideous combination of mediocrity and laziness that is probably a symptom of a deep depression among priests about the failures and continued decline that they have experienced for years. Poor priests! I must sympathize with them.

As Barry says, the average parish is too small, below "critical mass", and I would tend to agree, except that I understand that many Anglican and Uniting parishes have much smaller attendances...

Any ideas?

 
At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 1:25:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Further thoughts...

If I had a dollar for every Catholic parent or grandparent who's told me, "We brought the kids up Catholic/sent them to Catholic schools, and now they don't practise/live in irregular (non)marital situations/haven't had their kids baptised/etc.", then I'd be rolling in money.

My feeling is that many - if not most - of those who still "darken the doors" of the churches, and were NOT catechized before the Council, have so little grasp of their faith as to be almost completely uninstructed, and the younger they are, the less they comprehend.

Nearly all Catholics of the present generation, and most of those who've grown up in the last forty years, don't believe that official Catholic sexual morality is liveable or realistic, and go on to live and behave no differently to any other Westerner in this regard.

Result: any sense of what religion is about is reduced to a vague Congregationalism (no dis. to actual Congregationalists!), and what I call "the cult of bourgeois niceness": morality, indeed much of religion, is reduced to the virtues of toleration and being nice. Combine with this the peculiarly Australian distrust of liturgical beauty (stemming from Irish Catholicism) as something camp and High Church Anglican, and one finds the explanation for the utterly boring and secular tone of many Masses. The Sacrament is manifested in the midst of this muddle like the Ark in the temple of Dagon, to misquote Luther.

Unlike Protestant groups - and here I would include Lutherans, indeed praising them for their commitment to the Gospel as they understand it - the average even churchgoing Catholic has very little understanding of their faith, hardly any notion of its history, underpinnings, and importance for salvation, and could not give any adequate defence of it, let alone imagine why one would, should or could interest others in it. Instead, they would if anything apologize for and distance themselves from what they would perceive as "fundamentalist", "conservative", alien expressions of the faith as put forward by the Pope, Cardinal Pell, etc.

The idea of being really committed to believing, investigating, defending and promoting their faith would seem repulsively 'fundamentalist'.

I really hope I'm just depressed and wrong about this, but I do think it may contain a grain of truth, inasmuch as the difference between the average Catholic's actual beliefs, and those of a Broad Church Anglican or Uniting person (a typical 'mainstream' Protestant) is I suspect much smaller than many would imagine (tho' the Catholic would in addition accept various ideas, e.g. praying to Mary, and find it hard to see why others wouldn't, while all the time not seeing it as an important issue anyway - an "adiaphoron" to use the Lutheran term - and wondering why all Christians can't just be one in a truly alarmingly indifferentist way).

 
At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 2:07:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a young person, I’d feel I might speak with a least a little authority on the subject, to tell you what we think. Perhaps you might post as a separate post, to encourage comment.

As this is a long post, in summary form, we can start to encourage attendance at Mass and the practice of the Catholic faith by the following:

1 education in what the Catholic faith is. Nuts and Bolts. Not platitudinous clero-speak that afraid to upset anyone, but what the Church teaches, substantiated by Scripture and Tradition, so I can understand WHAT and WHY. If I don’t like it, okay, but at least I know what I am rejecting, and rejecting it for my own reasons. There’s no excuse for the lack of education

2 a proper understanding of what the Mass is and what we believe about it. Don’t expect to teach this in sermons unless, the reflections on the Readings, are cut in half. Rather, educate the parish outside Mass, teach the Real Presence, and how Mass is celebrated correctly, how it links us with Catholics across the ages and across the globe. And then apply it so that people see it in action

3 Restore good sound Catholic liturgy, not neo-protestant, community worship. Restore the sacredness, the transcendence, the beauty to liturgy; remove the banal, the mundane, the common and vulgar, so we know it’s about God, not us, so that we can see God and feel his is present in the Tabernacle and in the Eucharist. Encourage Eucharistic devotion in all its forms

4 Engage in proper Catholic devotions that are all but forgotten: Divine Office, Benediction – why it everything celebrated by Mass, what happened to Solemn Vespers?)

5 Restore the use of hand missals: these treasures help us live our day in the arms of God (especially traditional ones), have most of the prayers one could need in one spot, they explain the Mass, they explain the sacraments, they help us stay close to God and assist us with mental prayer too.

Education:
Barry is right. We need evangelisation. But this presupposes education. Do we really know what the Catholic faith is and teaches? And WHY? I came out of a Catholic school, that I was sent to for a Catholic education – but did not know what the Catholic faith was. How, then, can I practice that faith and apply it in my ordinary life? Is it any surprise that I can’t understand how Catholicism is different from any other religion, or Christian denomination; that when the bright protestant criticises my faith, I can’t defend it? That I can’t argue for it? Nuts and bolts people: understand your Cathecism, get priests and parishes to teach the Catechism, to its parishioners so that the faith is understood, and lived, so that it may be taught, and we may evangelise.

Do I know what the Popes teach? Most parishes never mention the encyclicals let alone make them available for people to read or promote them. To take a recent example: did your parish mention Deus Caritas Est, Spe Salvi, Ratzinger’s Spirit of the Liturgy, Sacramentum Caritatis?

It would help immeasurably, if we could restore the use of hand missals. These treasures help us live our day in the arms of God (especially traditional ones), have most of the prayers one could need in one spot, they explain the Mass, they explain the sacraments, they help us stay close to God and assist us with mental prayer too. Most of them have detailed explanations of the feast days, what the teaching of the church is, the basics of the faith and the specifics of the prayer life and devotions (including Divine Office, Benediction etc) that enable us to feel God’s presence in all aspects of our day, including a daily Examination of Conscience.



Liturgy:
Where to begin? The core of the problem of why people don’t go to Mass, is, I strongly think, a crisis of faith. They – including the priests - don’t know what Mass is, and if they have heard it, they don’t believe it. They don’t believe in the Real Presence. For most Catholics, the Eucharist is a sign. That’s all.

I suggest, perhaps a little surprisingly, this is especially so in a surprising large number of the 50-70 age group that attend Mass. In other words, when a young person attends, s/he sees a bunch of aging hippies, usually women, “led” by a tired, worn out priest who doesn’t look as though he really believes what he’s doing, spouts platitudinous phrases that mean little and resonate even less, singing Kumbaya, Haugen or Haas, now on the organ because finally he’s been convinced by the archdiocese that guitars are no liturgical instruments (although in his day they were).

How can Mass celebrated the way it is most parishes possibly attract the young? Put aside the good intentions, they are not enough.

Sermons: on the whole are insipid, replete with the catch-phrases of Catholic–lite variety that refuse to tell me what the Church actually teaches on anything important let I be upset by what I hear and refuse to come back. And so the message I hear week after week, is, in various guises, that I should promote peace, and be love to neighbour. That good, but THAT’S IT. I KNOW THAT. What I want to hear is how do I love God too, what is Christ’s and his bride the Church’s explanation of how I should engage with the world around me, deal with my fellow man and live my life in accordance with his teachings and the issues I face day to day. I want to know the mind of the church and to think with the Church. I want my parish filled with priests who can draw this out of the Gospels and the readings.

I don’t want banalities offered because the priest does not want to upset the hippie congregation who actually sustain the parish life. This is of no intellectual sustenance for me. If I wanted platitudes I’d go down the road to the evangelical church. You say this is the Church founded by the Son of God, please demonstrate it with that – difficult, but necessary – balance of intellectual explanation of the Gospel, and practical application. Explain to me, why this message matters.

Mass: why must Mass be celebrated as though it were a protestant communion service?? Why, at every turn does my parish when it celebrates Mass seek to implicitly deny the Catholic faith and what the Catechism says Mass is.

Is it really, because in our heart of hearts, we – you, me, the priest - don’t really believe it? We don’t belive in the Real Presence: it’s not the body and blood of Christ, the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary, after all, it’s just a sign?

If we did believe, how can we parishioners talk incessantly from the time we arrive til when we leave; allow children to behave as though they are in kindergarten; fail to genuflect and fail to show reverence and respect to God present in the Eucharist and in the Tabernacle. How can we forget to pray on a arrival, to give thanksgiving after Mass and to try and leave as soon as we possible can? How can we wear ripped jeans and cocktail dresses, or t-shirts emblazoned with rubbish when we go to receive the Son of God? Unless of course, we don’t really believe any of that.

How is it possible that the main hinderance to me praying is the PRIEST: there he stands in front of me wearing appalling polyester vestments with childish embroidery of a loaf/wheat/vine/cup on it, like an stage actor, encouraging me in a facile, puerile way to engage or interact or participate. I’m spoken to like a child. And he talks too much: where is the silence that lets me pray? Where is the space, the gentle pace of prayer, I need. Where is the beauty, the vestments, the music, the incense, the un-self-conscious glorious ceremonial that says proudly: “nothing is too good for you, Lord”. Where are the hushed tones, the silence, the reverence, and the awe it can inspire to allow me to talk to God.

No, indeed, the young get this never-ending parade of banality: a false modesty that admits no beauty, no quality, no feeling of the sacred, no transcendence.

How can a young person be inspired by this? How can a young person feel that God is present, even though you tell me that as a Catholic, all my senses should be open to God, and I worship with all my senses? Is it any wonder, that young people feel that the “Source and Summit” of our lives, is really a pretence, we don’t really believe what we say we believe, there’s nothing special here, I can do what ever this is, in the convenience of my own home, in peach. A young person can spot a hypocrite a mile away: whom are these people fooling? This is not Catholicism.

And if all this is really about celebrating us, because we don’t really believe that the Son of God is present in the Tabernacle, then, of course the Protestants do it better with their young, engaging people (it will take me close to a lifetime to work out that don’t have the answers, but the Catholic parish is not helping me avoid that mistake). Why would I want to hang around with you old folk? If it’s mere prayer you’re doing here, I can do that elsewhere too:

In the way Mass in celebrated in most parishes I have attended, we are, as Benedict XVI says, focused in on ourselves. We have forgotten that Mass is about Christ. God. Not us. And Catholics have something they haven’t: Christ, really present in our midst. How can we not capitalise on this? Don’t educate, don’t explain, don’t talk about it, don’t behave as though you really believe it, don’t How can this unique offering not be attractive to people, especially young people? As a young person I must see that you mean what you say and that you really believe it. If I do, as I do when I see the Pope, or Archbishop Hart or Bishop Elliot celebrate the Mass in the Cathedral, then I believe more easily, because they mean what they say. And we ask ourselves why is it we can’t have this in our parish church? Is it the same faith? If so, why is it not the same liturgy? Is the answer, because those priests and people don’t believe it?

(As an aside, we don’t want priests to dress like us so demonstrate they are “one of us”; they are in the world, not of the world, and we want them to dress like priests, and proud to do so.)

Music: as a young person, I don’t want to hear rock music or banal 1960’s folk hymns! This is not sacred music. So why do people think we need more of! Wake up!!! I want my heritage: my Catholic heritage, which the liturgical ascendency has until recently hidden from me: the great music of the church, polyphony, chant and best of the modern stuff (no, that does not include anything written by Haugen, Haas or Christopher Wilcock SJ). The music of the church is not about taste, it is about what is proper to the church, and time and again, the priests and their hippie aging congregation refuse to give it to me. They say they have no resources, yet they have choirs singing rubbish; they pay for pastoral assistants who promote the rubbish; they disdain anything of quality and permanence on the pretext of elitism: “We don’t do that sort of thing in Australia”. Right. And then you wonder why no one goes to church in Australia?? For Pete’s sake. You may be well intentioned, but you’re hideously misguided, you aren’t doing what the church asks of you in document after document after document.

In short, we want Catholicism. We want to be Catholic, like our ancestors were Catholic, like the saints were Catholic, like our Pope is Catholic. We don’t want the parishioners, or our priests, denying us or hiding our y Catholic heritage and our Catholic Faith. If we are Catholic, we need to know what that means, and we need to be proud to demonstrate it.

 
At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 7:00:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Amen, Amen to the comment of Anonymous (a Melbournian? - I may know you :-) ). He well sums up how dispiriting a greying insipid parish is to any young person. The reasoning process goes like this: if the Catholic faith is true, then why the slack and boring way in which Mass is got through? One is tempted to reason that instead Mass is banal because the Catholic Faith is not true.

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 2:29:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Very interesting comments here. I'm of course not familiar with the situation in Australia as in the U.S., but I do have a few observations.

As far as Catholics believing in the Real Presence goes, there's been a resurgence of emphasis over here on Perpetual Adoration which supports and reemphasizes belief in the Real Presence. No one who makes a holy hour has any doubt that Christ is truly and sacramentally present among us (our priests leave no doubt that in Holy Communion we receive the true Body and Blood of the Lord).

My parish has a wonderful Altar and Rosary Society and those ladies have purchased beautiful and liturgically sound vestments for our priests and altar cloths. We have just established a Knights of Columbus Council at the parish and our priests preach faithfully throughout the liturgical year on appropriate themes.

Our Director of Education, along with those in neighboring parishes, has begun to print a weekly column in the Church bulletin (and sometimes in the monthly newsletter) regarding Catholic doctrine/dogma, the liturgical year, etc. Our diocese, recognizing that catechesis has been very uneven over the past 30-40 years, has established an Adult Catholic Education forum that holds programs at different parishes. The next one will be about the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Last but not least, the laity should be thoroughly informed about what the documents of Vatican II REALLY state, not the "Spirit of Vatican II". Especially as regards Sacrosanctum Concilium.

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 12:23:00 pm , Blogger Jeff Tan said...

Amen to all that was posted, and amen to the concern we all share over this. I do come from a blessedly living parish (Holy Family, Mt. Waverley) where Mass is generally reverent when our parish priest is celebrating. We get full family Mass on Sundays, we have a reverent choir, and we still pack in 40-60 attendees during the morning weekday masses, and we have Eucharistic adoration after the Friday Mass.

Of course it irks even my Evangelical wife that special days like Christmas and Easter sees a doubling of the number of attendees, meaning that the excess stay away except on those days.

And of course we still get the occasional liturgical lapses (few and far between) when visiting priests celebrate, or when the choir is away and someone takes it upon himself/herself to manage the music via a cassette tape playing folk-type songs. And we only have children's liturgy when volunteers are available, which is half the time.

But all things considered, and relative to other parishes, ours is not a bad parish at all, but better is always better.

 
At Saturday, January 12, 2008 11:04:00 pm , Blogger LYL said...

O my Lord! I have been frustrated by all this for at least the last 20 years!

Totally agree - something must be done!

I noticed that our School and Parish fair had a really good crowd. Presumably made up of a lot of people with kids in the school as well as the regular Mass-goers.

However, all those people should be at Mass every week! What are we doing to bring them back into the Church????

Nowhere at the fair was there anything which in any way could be construed as message of The Gospel!

 
At Saturday, January 12, 2008 11:07:00 pm , Blogger LYL said...

Actually, one of the best ways to evangelise is to use our charism/s. Everyone then gets to do it in the way God wants him/her to do it.

Check out the Institute of St Catherine of Sienna for more info.

http://www.siena.org/

If you ever get the chance to do a Called and Gifted workshop - Do It!!!

We're so far behind the 8 Ball on this that we really must work smarter, not harder!

Thanks for [posting this, David!

 
At Sunday, January 13, 2008 10:16:00 am , Blogger Jeff Tan said...

If you ever get the chance to do a Called and Gifted workshop - Do It!!!

Ditto! I went to one that was run by Sherry Weddell and Fr. Michael Sweeney (I think). It was well worth it.

 

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