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Is the Bottom Really Falling Out of Catholic Mass Attendance? ..CARA Survey..
Archdiocese of Washington.org ^ | December 15, 2010 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 12/21/2010 7:12:08 PM PST by Salvation

Dec15

Is the number of Catholics really dropping? Is the bottom really falling out of Catholic Mass attendance? If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I have written several articles and cited several studies that detail an increasingly grave situation for the Church (e.g. HERE). Most of us are familiar with a significant number of Church closings, school closings and the like thought Catholic America. These surely strengthen the view that we are in an increasingly grave condition.

However, there are other views that see the statistics very differently and argue that the number of Catholics is about steady and even slightly growing. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has a blog edited by Mark Gray which presents a more sanguine view of the situation and argues that, while there are concerns, the bottom is not falling out of Catholic Church membership in any statistically significant way. I would like to present excerpts of the CARA blog post and do a little running commentary. As I often do, the CARA material will be in bold, black, italics, and my remarks will be bold text red.

At the end of this post I will still argue that I think we are heading into a grave condition, However, I have great respect for the work of CARA and think their data is an essential reality check that helps us to see what is really going on.

Here then are excerpts of the CARA blog post. The complete post can be read here: CARA Blog Post

Since the end of World War II, on average, 25% of the U.S. adult population has self-identified in national surveys as Catholic (±2 to 3 percentage points attributable to margin of sampling error). This spans many trusted sources from commercial polling by Gallup and others, news media polls, exit polls, and academic surveys such as the General Social Survey and the World Values Survey…..Thus, notice that we are fairly steady in terms of our percentage of the U.S. population. That also means that, as the U.S. population has grown significantly since WW II so have our numbers. In the early 1950s there were about 35 million Catholics in the US. Today there are are over 75 million. This number however does not distinguish between practicing and non practicing Catholics. It is estimated that just over 80% of Catholics attended Mass each Sunday in the 1950s. Today it is estimated that about 25% of Catholics go each Sunday. That means that in the early 1950s about 28 million Catholics were in Church each Sunday. Today that number, even with a growing Catholic population, has dropped to 19.2 million. In other words, almost 9 million fewer Catholics are in Church now as compared to the 1950s.

The chart [at left] tracks growth in the Catholic population percentage from 2% in 1776 (45,000) to 25% in 2010 (77.7 million). The size of the circles represents the total size of the Catholic population…..In the last 40 years, the Catholic population has grown by about 75%. If it did the same in the next 40 years it would be 136 million in 2050 and represent about 31% of the projected U.S. population at that time. This however is an unlikely scenario as overall population growth has slowed in the United States and is expected to slow more as the Baby Boom, and the “echoes” from it, fade…..The highest projection accounts for differences by race and ethnicity. In recent years, polling has consistently indicated that about 60% to 65% of Hispanics/Latinos in the United States self-identify as Catholic. However, there is also evidence that this percentage is dipping slightly lower. This projection assumes this falls even further—to only about 55% and that Catholic self-identification among the non-Hispanic population measures about 18.5%. Both assumptions are on the conservative side. However, even with only assuming 55% Catholic identification among Hispanics/Latinos, the rapid growth expected in this sub-group will likely boost Catholic population numbers significantly (this is even the case if it falls further than 55%). This projection leads to an expected growth in the Catholic population of 65% between 2010 and 2050 with a Catholic population total of 128 million in 40 years, representing 29.2% of the total U.S. population. OK, so the bottom line is that our numbers of overall Catholics will continue to grow significantly even using rather conservative premises. It looks like, within forty years we will surely top 100 million Catholics in the US. A huge number overall. However, will they attend Mass and support the work of the Church? What if the U.S. numbers of practicing Catholics drop to European levels which are currently only 10% going to Mass each week. That means there would be only 10 million at Mass on Sunday, a drop of another 9 million. It is not clear that the numbers will drop that low and as well will see, the 25% practicing Catholic number seems to be rather a stable number at this time. If it holds steady then we will see growth in the numbers in our pews each Sunday. But the key question is, will it hold steady or grow? Or will it drop further? That surely depends on us evangelizing and working to restore people to the Sacraments! It may also be affected by other things such as the economy, the emergence (or not) of some significant crisis and so forth. A final factor that is probably hard to guage is what happens to the children and grandchildren of non-practicing Catholics? Will they continue to self-identify as Catholics or will that “identity” fade as the generations proceed? It’s hard to know. Thus, while the overall news of a growing Catholic population looks good, there are on-going questions about how many of them will, in any meaningful way, practice the Catholic faith and/or hand it on to their children and grandchildren.


Question: Didn’t Pew find that nearly “one in three” people raised Catholic leave the faith leading to an astounding “one in ten” adult Americans who are formerly Catholic? How could the population grow with losses like these?  Answer: …the “one in three” finding drawn from the Pew study is consistently quoted without context. Most often the number is used to drive a narrative—an undeniable signal of extraordinary crisis…..All things considered, Catholicism does a better job of keeping those raised in the faith than any Protestant denomination (68% of those raised Catholic remain so as adults). The Chart at left shows the data for other denominations. I would like to mine the data deeper on the “unaffiliated nones” category which I presume refers to the mega church members and/or evangelicals. I have long thought that we too quickly admire the numbers present in mega-churches and have long suspected that they don’t keep their members for a long time. I have a lot of anecdotal evidence that people go for a year or so and eventually get bored or disillusioned and move on to another mega-church, then to another. At some point they leave the system altogether and I thus suspect the mega-Church phenomenon will run its course and the numbers overall will diminish in that “branch of Zion.”  But there is good news here if we compare ourselves to other Churches. However, it is still an awful fact that one-third of those raised Catholic later leave the Church and lose the sacraments. This is still an awful number..

The CARA post then addresses the Church closing phenomenon.
 …..For generations Catholic immigrants have often started their new lives in industrial urban areas. They created parishes where others spoke the same language. Sometimes a Polish parish would be built across from a parish where Italian was the language in use. The sheer number of people involved led to a boom in parish construction and along with schools—often in close proximity to each other. Yet, in the post-World War II era things began to shift. Many Catholics moved to the suburbs and away from the Northeast and Midwest into the Sunbelt. New waves of Catholic immigration from Latin America have led to even more growth in the South from coast to coast. The Catholic population has realigned itself in the course of a few generations. People move, parishes and schools do not. Many of the parish and school closings one reads about are in inner cities of the Northeast and Midwest where Catholic population has waned. ….OK fair enough. But I would argue that we still cannot avoid the fact that there are 9 million fewer Catholics in Church on Sunday than in the early 1950s. The other factors mentioned here are not insignificant, but neither is 9 million fewer Catholics in the pews. Many of the over-churched urban areas would still have many more thriving parishes if even 50% were still going every Sunday. I surely doubt we would be closing as many parishes, even in depopulated urban centers, if Catholics were, as a whole, more faithful.

Although Catholic Mass attendance did decline in recent decades from a peak in the 1950s, there has been no decline in Mass attendance percentages nationally in the last decade. Just under one in four Catholics attends Mass every week. About a third of Catholics attend in any given week and more than two-thirds attend Mass at Christmas, Easter, and on Ash Wednesday. More than four in ten self-identified Catholics attend Mass at least once a month. So the good news is that we may have bottomed out. You can click to the “no decline” study at the blue text above and sure enough, the number of weekly attendants has hovered steadily in the low 20%s for over ten years now. There is little guarantee we will stay here however and I remain concerned that the number is going to head even lower as secularism continues to increase and the unchurched generations become even more detatched from things spiritual. Even the great Christmas and Easter holy days are becoming silenced in our culture.

In the end, I find looking at the CARA analysis helpful in distinguishing the true problem. The overall number of Catholics is, in fact rising. However the critical factor seems to be that Mass attendance has dropped dramatically since the 1950s, from over 80% to around 20-25% now. This indicates a very critical condition indeed. Tell me any organization in which 80% of its members were inactive that you would call healthy. Our condition is critical. It is helpful to know that we seem to have stabilized at this number. That is, we haven’t gone lower in over ten years. However I am concerned that the 25% number is soft and wonder if it will be stable for long. Rampant secularism, the moral malaise of many, a hostile culture etc. all stand to likely erode that number even further.

I pray for a miracle to be sure. I pray for an evangelizing spirit among Catholics. The Church at the upper right of this post is St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago. Ten years ago it was boarded up and slated for demolition. But Opus Dei agreed to take it and brought it back to life. Today it is a thriving parish. But generally, we have become very sleepy and many have barely noticed as large numbers of fellow Catholics  have slipped away. In the end, the greatest tragedy is not the numbers per se but the fact that almost 80% of our Catholic brothers and sisters are away from the sacraments, away from the medicine they need, and not having the gospel preached to them. These 80% live in a poisonous culture wherein their mind will increasingly darken without the help of the Sacraments and the Word of God. This is tragic and if we have any real love for them we will not rest until they are restored to God’s house. God asked Cain one day, “Where’s your brother?” And God still asks this of us. We may protest that we have murdered no one. And yet, many of them will die spiritually if we remain indifferent. “Where is your brother?…Where?”

This song says, Come and go with me to my Father’s House



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; History
KEYWORDS: brokencaucus; catholic; catholicchurch; catholiclist; demographics; mass; massattendance; msgrcharlespope
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Lots of details here....The purple highlighting is mine, except that the good monsignor's comments are in red.

I can't all his comments to come up in red. (Even though I highlighted them and asked for red. Bah!

1 posted on 12/21/2010 7:12:13 PM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...

Catholic Caucus Ping!


2 posted on 12/21/2010 7:13:51 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Clcik on the title and you should be able to red Monsignor Pope’s comments in red.


3 posted on 12/21/2010 7:14:39 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
This is a Catholic Caucus thread.


Guidelines for Catholic Caucus Threads


4 posted on 12/21/2010 7:16:19 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

“...the critical factor seems to be that Mass attendance has dropped dramatically...”

So, why?
Are the teachings Biblical? If not, that is the answer.


5 posted on 12/21/2010 7:16:45 PM PST by elpinta (John 17:3)
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To: Salvation

should be able to read (in red)


6 posted on 12/21/2010 7:17:06 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: elpinta
Are the teachings Biblical? If not, that is the answer.

If you were Catholic, you would know that they are. This is a Catholic Caucus thread.

7 posted on 12/21/2010 8:04:41 PM PST by Judith Anne (Holy Mary, Mother of God, please pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.)
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To: Salvation

Numbers don’t equal strength. I would rather have a smaller church that truly believes in everything in the Catechism, than some “feel good, Catholic-lite” big tent church. Smaller isn’t necessarily worse.


8 posted on 12/21/2010 8:07:13 PM PST by Gapplega
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Salvation

I’m born and raised Catholic, and still consider myself Catholic, but I don’t attend Mass. The primary reason is that the Priest in my parish is a sissified wimpus who barely speaks English. The guy is literally so soft spoken that you’d think he’s a nursery school psychologist, not to mention the fact that he’s born and raised Mexican. I have absolutely nothing in common with him.

I want a Priest who’s a man. Someone who isn’t afraid or ashamed to wield the sword of St. Peter for the good of God and country. And someone who can communicate with me in English on my own level, with the subtleties of a shared cultural experience. But what I’ve got is a wimpy Mexican dingleberry.


10 posted on 12/21/2010 8:10:14 PM PST by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: Salvation

Yet another great article from Mosignor Pope. I do think that there is a tie-in, also. Just my opinion, but the combination of the increasingly secular society at large and related pressures seem to be generating many, umm, “cultural Catholics,” in some areas. I think that there is likewise some fallout (no puns intended) from some changes in the American Catholic Church that came after Vatican II and the debut of the Novus Ordo Mass. I am not saying this because of my love for the Tridentine Latin Mass, although I am deeply, perennially in awe and admiration of it. I am saying this because I have seen parishes wherein the feeling of community seemed to be more focused on the people than on the Lord. Part of this seems to stem from (in my poor and humble opinion) those more concerned with a certain rendition of the term Social Justice than the teachings of the Church. Either way, I think it a shame, and hope and pray for greater focus on this. I do feel that increasing the number of parishes where at least one Latin Mass occurs each week will help.


12 posted on 12/21/2010 8:14:33 PM PST by sayuncledave (A cruce salus)
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To: Salvation

We go to our parishes for the Sacraments but it is important to remember that Catholic identity starts at home, the domestica egglesia, and the home has always been the core church and Catholicism has never survived in a country in which the faith was not primarily taught and passed on in this manner.

The late Fr. John Hardon wrote about this phenomena and he was appointed to the growing Catholic Homeschooling community in the US by the Pope because of the apparent problems in the Dioceses. Perhaps what we are seeing is statistical reflection of this solid core egglesia domestica as the Diocesan Church shudders from the past decade of scandal after scandal.

I know many all over the country who travel considerable distance to attend Mass because their parish has become offensive and liberal. I know many who just travel locally from parish to parish as the Mass times fit their busy schedules. These people identify as Catholic but their parish has become the church at large for a variety of reasons. We tend to think of Church as Diocesan because of all the trappings of Diocesan and parish life but that has lost the family focus in many places. In the early primitive Church, the Eucharist was often brought into a home for safekeeping and an altar was set up. Of course we know how St. Anthony brought the Eucharist to the Desert for safekeeping, then as monastic life developed the Eucharist was kept in the Chapels. The Faith will live on but I expect Diocesan life to change back to earlier patterns from a century or two ago.


13 posted on 12/21/2010 8:38:47 PM PST by Domestic Church (AMDG...)
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To: Salvation

I know our church is filled every Saturday, thank God.


14 posted on 12/21/2010 10:25:02 PM PST by rambo316 (Rush is Right, Odumbo is an Imposter.)
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To: MarineBrat
I’m born and raised Catholic, and still consider myself Catholic, but I don’t attend Mass. The primary reason is that the Priest in my parish is a sissified wimpus

I never understood this way of thinking. I go to mass to commune with my God and to receive his grace. Communication with the priest is of little concern. A good homily is nice but not necessary.

God wants you to come to mass and talk to him and receive his grace. No middleman is necessary.

15 posted on 12/21/2010 10:45:47 PM PST by Prokopton
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To: Salvation

It is interesting that church attendance stopped declining immediately after the hierarchy got after the child molesters. Perhaps that cleansing helped restore confidence by the laity in the leadership.


16 posted on 12/22/2010 1:29:34 AM PST by Lucius Cornelius Sulla ('“Our own government has become our enemy' - Sheriff Paul Babeu)
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To: Domestic Church

I have a question. What if you are single, and for some, have very little if no family? Then the church community becomes that extended family. I have many friends in my parish community.


17 posted on 12/22/2010 4:15:23 AM PST by Biggirl (MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! GO UCONN!!!!:)=^..^=)
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To: Salvation; All

Yet, at Christmas and Easter, the same Catholic churches get “packed” with worshipers.


18 posted on 12/22/2010 4:19:09 AM PST by Biggirl (MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! GO UCONN!!!!:)=^..^=)
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To: MarineBrat; NYer

Good point — many priests seem like sissies — but not all. Perhaps you can find a strong Eastern Catholic parish in your neighbourhood. NYer, would you be able to help, please?


19 posted on 12/22/2010 4:38:48 AM PST by Cronos (One cries because one is sad. For example I cry because others are stupid and it makes me sad.)
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To: Prokopton; MarineBrat

your statement makes more sense. We’re not dependent on one priest. MB — you can write to your bishop or above, asking for a replacement. Or, you can just ignore the priest and focus on the priestly role during the Eucharist etc. Our focus is on God, not the human-tool/preacher/priest.


20 posted on 12/22/2010 4:44:19 AM PST by Cronos (One cries because one is sad. For example I cry because others are stupid and it makes me sad.)
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To: MarineBrat

“Sissified priest” — yes they are out there. Run screaming, for you will find a parish where they love the Lord and worship Him reverently. If we found one in Los Angeles, you surely can. Look for Confession hours posted and 24/7 adoration, if you can. And beautiful candles in the sanctuary.

We found a church run by manly Carmelite priests that is holy, reverential, beautiful, Christ-centered — the way it ‘should’ be. There is a cultural war, don’t you know, that has infected the churches as well as Hollywood. The battle rages; we need true believers in the front lines. Come join in.


21 posted on 12/22/2010 5:32:33 AM PST by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: MarineBrat
I don’t attend Mass. The primary reason is that the Priest in my parish is a sissified wimpus who barely speaks English.

So go to the next neighboring Parish. Or the one after that.

I know California isn't necessarily the friendliest place for believing Catholics, but it ain't as bad as some folks portray.

22 posted on 12/22/2010 6:28:38 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: MarineBrat

Then why don’t you exercise a little Christian charity and pray for this priest? It cannot be easy speaking your non native language in another country. At least he is there to bring you the Sacraments; many parishes don’t even have that every Sunday.

Due to the LOW numbers of vocations in our own country we have had to look elsewhere.

And just because you don’t like the priest personally is no excuse to miss Mass—read your Catechism. It is still a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. (I have been guilty of that in the past too, so this is just a friendly reminder.)

The parochial vicar at my parish is Polish, just newly ordained-—I adore him and would be tempted to belt anyone in the mouth who said what you have said about this priest.

All of our Popes have had “accents” when speaking English—and when I hear my parochial vicar saying Mass I am reminded of Pope John Paul II-—I loved him very much.

I would like to see more fire and brimstone myself but the Church is turning herself around and standing up for Herself. (Witness the bishop in Arizona who took severed ties with that CINO hospital yesterday.)

Please reconsider and come Home. We want you back, but it is up to you. (And one you will have to explain to Christ when you leave this world, you know.)


23 posted on 12/22/2010 8:59:21 AM PST by Infidel Heather (In God I trust, not the Government.)
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To: All

I had several replies to my post #10 above asking me to get myself back to Mass. I just can’t do it. Not here in my small town. I used to attend St. James in Redondo Beach, CA, where the Priest was awesome. I attended nearly every Sunday. When I was troubled I scheduled private times to speak to him for advice. I loved that parish. And the parish where I grew up, Church of the Resurrection in Pittsburgh, PA was the same way. I was an integral part of the Church.

Here in our small California farming town I just can’t do it. Even though Mexicans are a minority in our town, the vast majority of the attendees at the Catholic Church are Mexicans, as is the Priest... and it seems that every one of them pray to the god of political correctness and government cheese. I have nothing in common with them. I could no more ask him for advice about life than I’d ask a child how to build a rocket ship. He just doesn’t have the communications skills or the cultural background knowledge.

Some have pointed out that Church is between me and God, but I see God everywhere else... and scant little of Him at this particular Church. I need Church to be a community. That’s why I go... to share something special with my community. Without the community aspect, I can just as well speak to God in my workshop or back yard.

From what I’ve seen of Catholic Priests here in our town, the measuring stick has gotten pretty short at the Seminaries. My apologies to everyone... I’m just not the type to go to a Church unless I look up to the Priest.


24 posted on 12/22/2010 1:16:37 PM PST by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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To: Salvation

The basic problem...Is 30 years of lousy catechesis and liberalism infecting the church.

Firm up the core and the blessings will flow out like a river.


25 posted on 12/22/2010 2:09:37 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (Liberals are educated above their level of intelligence.. Thanks Sr. Angelica)
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To: Cronos; MarineBrat; Prokopton; Salvation
Perhaps you can find a strong Eastern Catholic parish in your neighbourhood. NYer, would you be able to help, please?

Of course.

MarinteBrat, the Catholic Church is very large, comprised of 22 churches of which the largest is the Western (Latin or RC) Church. For the past 18 years, I have resided in one of the most "progressive" dioceses in the US. The pastor at our last parish passed away and was replaced by one of the bishop's hand selected priests. He was all about appearance and nothing to do with substance. As freeper Prokopton noted above, I continued to attend Mass at this very large parish despite some obvious liturgical abuses, until they effected the students I was preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. At that point, I stepped forward and began to address them one by one. I tried to solicit assistance from other parishioners but they were fearful of losing a priest in a diocese that was closing churches. I even took on the bishop and prevailed.

It was watching a EMHC drop a consecrated host on the sanctuary floor, that sent me packing. I will spare you the details. It was then that I discovered two Eastern Catholic Churches within proximity of home and set off to visit them. I began with prayer, asking our Lord to guide me to a holy priest, a reverent liturgy and a community in need of my God-given gifts. IOW, I asked our Lord for His guidance, while committing myself to cooperating with His needs.

Nearly 8 years ago, I attended Mass at a Maronite Catholic Church and have never left. In the midst of the darkness of this diocese, St. Ann's shines like a beacon of light. I was never one to get involved but shortly after arriving at this Eastern Catholic Church, the pastor asked for my assistance in raising funds to restore the 100+ year old windows and facade of a 160 y/o church the parish had purchased for their expanding community. Despite astronomical odds (only 15 grants are awarded each year and more than 300 applicants apply), we received those monies. I was elected to the Parish Council, invited to join the women's sodality and, 4 years ago, made Director for Religious Education.

Words are insufficient to describe the community spirit that prevails at this very small parish (we are less than 100 families). Yesterday, our bishop came for a pastoral visit, to hear confessions, pray the Divine Liturgy and lead us on day 7 of the Christmas Novena. Afterwards, EVERYONE was invited over to the rectory for an incredible spread of food and deserts, all prepared by a small group of women. Some RC visitors accepted the invitation and were moved to tears by the bishop's homily, the metanoia of his prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and especially by his approachability afterwards. They plied him with questions about the Eastern Catholic Churches and he graciously educated them.

I can't begin to tell you how much my life has improved since joining this parish. It is like an extended family. We care and pray for each other. When someone is sick, we call, write and visit. When someone dies, we all turn out for the funeral. When asked, we pray for each other in good times and bad; we rejoice at the birth of children and celebrate their Baptisms, as a community. Like the early christian communities, we look out for each other and worry when we don't hear from someone for a while. THIS is true christian faith in action.

I noticed that you live in CA. There is a wonderful Maronite Catholic Church near San Diego - St. Ephrem's in El Cajon. There are other Eastern Catholic Churches in Northern California. And no doubt there are many others as well. Our Lord said: "Seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you". Don't waste another minute. Take out the yellow pages and start searching. If you would like more information on the Eastern Catholic Churches, drop me a freepmail.

Christmas Blessings to you all!

26 posted on 12/22/2010 2:43:32 PM PST by NYer ("Be kind to every person you meet. For every person is fighting a great battle." St. Ephraim)
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To: Prokopton; MarineBrat
I never understood this way of thinking. I go to mass to commune with my God and to receive his grace. Communication with the priest is of little concern. A good homily is nice but not necessary.

I am not sure what you experience and background at church is, but I think it's important to remember that God doesn't interact with us all in the exact same way. Having a good priest is not just a trifling matter. They are doctors of souls and often God talks to us through them. However, in some areas priests are such bad examples that the mass itself becomes a spiritually painful an experience for many Catholics to endure. If attending mass causes unnecessary spiritual pain without helping the patient, then people won't go. Period. A bad priest like a bad doctor can be a major cause of this pain at mass. If you don't trust the doctor at the hospital are you going to go take the medicine he gives you? Mass is a medicine for us when administered correctly, but like medicine it must be administered correctly or it may be harmful to the patient.

Many masses are conducted in a scandalous way which harmful for many Catholics to handle. In fact, in many areas it can be near impossible to find a mass done properly. There are many priests and even bishops who are liberal progressives. They are often bad examples and preach false doctrines, and if a person cannot feel the presence of God in his own ministers why would they feel comfortable coming to mass? We need good priests. Pray for the ones we have to be strengthened and for the ones we need to be prepared.

Remember that God doesn't communicate and touch everyone in the same way. So your experiences with grace won't necessarily be the same as mine. Priests are one of the major ways that God touches people with Grace and without good priests to channel that grace I don't think that one can undo this crisis of Mass attendance.

27 posted on 12/22/2010 4:12:45 PM PST by old republic
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To: NYer
I attended Mass at a Maronite Catholic Church and have never left.

You lucky bum. I wish there were more Eastern Rite Churches around here. It's so hard to find them. Luckily, beautiful Traditional Latin Masses have started to pop up in recent years.

28 posted on 12/22/2010 4:26:26 PM PST by old republic
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To: old republic; Prokopton

I’ve always been one to look for God in the outdoors. There have been times in my adult life when I’ve attended Mass regularly, but it has always been those times when I found a Priest with whom I could relate... as a friend or mentor, not just as a guy who recites the words while on the Altar.

Those times that I’m not in regular attendance I’m still regularly contemplating God, Jesus and the nature of existence. I thank God every day for the gift of my sentience and free will, while also praying to be an integral part of Him again soon. I thank Jesus every day for being what I like to consider as my lawyer in the courtroom of God’s justice. I do not fear the sneaky words of evil — talk to my lawyer first. :)

Those times when I’m away from the Church, my favorite place to be close to God is on a mountain top or in the desert with my telescope. (I’m a fanatically avid amateur astronomer) It makes me feel just as fulfilled as after attending a great service with a full choir, honest to God pipe organ, and an awesome sermon.

But no matter how far I roam, and how many nights I spend under the stars, I’ll always be a Catholic and come back to the Church. I’ll always feel love and admiration towards the wonderful Nuns who taught me in school, and the Priests who were our spiritual guides. I dearly miss the grown-ups from when I was a kid. Those Priests and Nuns were selfless men and women doing God’s work every day. Performing the small miracle of making me who I am today.


29 posted on 12/22/2010 4:41:00 PM PST by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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To: Biggirl

Yes, the Church can become extended family which makes the the past decade pretty rough for some. My single friends have tried to find ways to be active in both parish and community groups. They are wonderful though some have stopped or were stopped in their activity.

In our parish over the past decade we actually had 2 priests in succession given warrants by the Philly DA in a public manner that hit regional and national news. One was a favorite of the children, the other a few years after, the parish pastor. The parish council and many eminent individuals had gone to the archdiocese with info for many years about the pastor to no avail.

It took the Philly DA to bring charges which led to defrocking. The parish lost many people and many families but the rural area had just become the outer ring of suburbia and new people were moving into the area so it didn’t show in a head count.

In the time between the two incidents the Tabernacle was moved to the side and the Presider’s seat was placed in the center where the Tabernacle had been.


30 posted on 12/22/2010 7:10:03 PM PST by Domestic Church (AMDG...)
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To: old republic
A bad priest like a bad doctor can be a major cause of this pain at mass. If you don't trust the doctor at the hospital are you going to go take the medicine he gives you? Mass is a medicine for us when administered correctly, but like medicine it must be administered correctly or it may be harmful to the patient.

I think you put way too much on mortal men.

God is the only "doctor" and the only cure. Priests are more like receptionists at the doctors office. They try to make sure that people who are sick can see the doctor. You wouldn't expect a doctors office receptionist to cure you. Even if they were annoying, you would not let a bad receptionist prevent you from seeing the doctor who can cure you.

Mass is to commune with God, not the priest. You can talk to the priest anytime and a good relationship with a devout priest is a wonderful thing, but it does not come close in importance to your relationship with God.

I can't imagine at judgment time when God asks "where have you been? Why have you not visited my house?" that an acceptable answer will be "I didn't like the priest".

Good Luck, God Bless You and Merry Christmas.

31 posted on 12/22/2010 7:15:41 PM PST by Prokopton
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To: old republic

“If attending mass causes unnecessary spiritual pain without helping the patient, then people won’t go.”

This is so true, especially whe you sense real evil, such as Fr Malachi Martin wrote about in Windswept House. I have seen what this does to a once vibrant parish that had brought 100s of converts in the previous decade in which the pastor was really saintly and beloved well beyond parish borders.


32 posted on 12/22/2010 7:17:31 PM PST by Domestic Church (AMDG...)
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To: MarineBrat

Sounds like a cop-out. It looks like you live in CA. So do I. Unless you live in a remote community, surely there are other parishes where you can attend Mass.

The purpose of Mass is to worship God. Some priests are charismatic personalities while others are plain boring. You do not attend Mass for priestly entertainment. You attend Mass to worship God.

I attend Mass in a parish where I have taken exception to the manner in which the pastor administers the parish. It is not a matter of his teaching but rather his poor administrative skills. I and others have spoken to him about this matter in a very direct and forthright manner, and he has chosen to ignore all of us. Just the same, most still are active members of the parish. Others have gone over to the neighboring parish. One day, the priest will no longer be pastor, but we still will be active parishioners. In the meantime, we work around his deficiencies and we pray for him.


33 posted on 12/22/2010 7:30:00 PM PST by CdMGuy
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To: MarineBrat

I might understand part of what you are saying for our church at one time had a priest from Sri Lanka with a terrible accent. Very difficult to understand his homilies.

HOWEVER, just as your priest of Hispanic descent, he was still ordained by a Bishop; his hands were annointed with oil; he was qualified to administer the Sacraments; and he was very orthodox. In fact, some people thought he was too hard-lined and walked too narrow a road.

So in my way of thinking you have two alternatives here — other than not attending Mass — because that is a mortal sin.

First of all get yourself to Confession and confess this. Maybe in a neighboring parish. I know people that drive over 60 miles to attend Mass with a priest they understand. It’s no longer considered ‘ugly’ or unmannerly to church-shop.

Your second choice is to recognize that your priest is duly ordained and sanctified. Your prayers at Mass are between you and God. You might get involved in the parish and find out what really is happening there.

But you are always a Catholic — so I’ll see you at midnight Mass somewhere, OK?


34 posted on 12/22/2010 8:24:56 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: old republic; MarineBrat

** We need good priests. Pray for the ones we have to be strengthened and for the ones we need to be prepared.**

Do you pray for vocations? Do you talk to your children about a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated religious life?

Please do.


35 posted on 12/22/2010 8:28:41 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Domestic Church

**Yes, the Church can become extended family which makes the the past decade pretty rough for some. My single friends have tried to find ways to be active in both parish and community groups. **

Yes, we are all members of the Body of Christ, the Communion of Saints. with God, there is no timeline!


36 posted on 12/22/2010 8:30:05 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

My parish is looking toward building a larger hall, building a larger church, expanding everywhere.

Our attendance is exploding.

If you are in my area, FReepmail me and I will give you the location and the times of Masses.

All are welcome!

For example, there was something for everyone to do at Thanksgiving. We delivered nearly 1600 Thanksgiving meals with a little over 100 for sit down dinner.

At Christmas, it’s reversed. We have a huge crowd for a sit down meal and deliver around 200 meals.


37 posted on 12/22/2010 8:34:00 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Infidel Heather

**Then why don’t you exercise a little Christian charity and pray for this priest? **

Great idea!


38 posted on 12/22/2010 8:34:44 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

The caucus label was removed because the article compares between Catholic and non-Catholic.


39 posted on 12/22/2010 9:16:52 PM PST by Religion Moderator
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To: Salvation; cobyok; surroundedbyblue; shurwouldluv_a_smallergov; Judith Anne; rkjohn; PadreL; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

40 posted on 12/22/2010 9:20:39 PM PST by narses ( 'Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.')
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To: Salvation

Yes, for God all points of time are present in their immediacy so all the suffering, physical and emotional and any other in light of Christ becomes a holy suffering moving us closer to Our Lord...the core knows this well.


41 posted on 12/22/2010 9:27:09 PM PST by Domestic Church (AMDG...)
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To: MarineBrat

Contact the Bishop. Don’t let that silly reason prevent you from Mass. The Mass is about Jesus; about God. It’s not about the Priests or the Congregation. We are there to behold.


42 posted on 12/22/2010 10:44:22 PM PST by NoRedTape
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The Catholic Church - The Church Jesus founded will be here until the end of time. Ebb and flow to some extent over the ages.

Record numbers coming in..................here is just one article........here.

Great web site HERE..............."Catholics Come Home"...........

43 posted on 12/22/2010 10:51:06 PM PST by NoRedTape
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To: NoRedTape

Thanks for both those links.

Facts speak for themselves, regardless of what some people may call comparisons.


44 posted on 12/22/2010 11:01:15 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation; NoRedTape; old republic; CdMGuy; Prokopton; NYer; Infidel Heather; ArrogantBustard; ...
You do not attend Mass for priestly entertainment. You attend Mass to worship God.

I don't need a Church roof over my head to worship God. To me, Church has always been about community, while worshiping God has been everywhere and everyplace. I met my wife at Church. It's where my friends and I went to our first 8 years of school. It's where my Cub/Boy Scout troop met. Where I took music lessons. Played sports. Went to dances. I even signed up for an NRA gun safety course in the late 60's right there in the school/Church cafeteria. And yes, it's where I grew up worshiping God next to my parents and my grandparents in the pews, and as an Altar Boy.

Now I live in a small (remote) farming town in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley. I've tried to connect with the Priest. Offered to make him a web page so that newcomers can find him. (Was too scary for him - might get hacked or something) I offered to provide him with computer technical support, but he's computer illiterate and seems to want to stay that way. I offered to perform odd jobs for them... carpentry, etc... but there's more than enough illegal Mexican manual labor around, so I'm not needed in that capacity.

In short, I didn't feel welcome. His inner sanctuary of parishioners are all Mexicans, because that's the people with whom he can relate. Most Catholics around here are Mexicans. I don't fit in with their culture, and I'm just not going to drive 20 miles every single Sunday to go to Church with people that I'll only see on Sundays at Church. I've done that drive many times already, but it's not what I'm looking for.

I think I was spoiled as a kid with an awesome Parish.

So I only go regularly to Mass once per month (new Moon Saturdays) when a good astronomy friend of mine (retired Monsignor) says Mass in a remote town up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and I drive up there with my telescope . After Mass we go observing together.

I've been close to Priests before, as more than a parishioner. One of my very best friends I grew up with was just appointed a Bishop last year. My favorite astronomy buddy is a retired Monsignor. They're both good friends, and intellectual/spiritual giants. I respect them immensely, and would be in the front row every Sunday if only I lived in their parishes.

Anyway, I appreciate all of you trying to save me from mortal sin, but I just don't feel that type of relationship with God. And if it turns out I'm wrong, I hold no grudge against him. It is what it is and I am who I am. We'll all sleep in the bed that we've made when the time comes.

45 posted on 12/23/2010 1:01:48 AM PST by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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To: Salvation
My experience is anecdotal. My experience says says calling Catholic attendance 'steady' is wishful thinking. I hope my parishes are atypical.

The attendance at my parish is 'steady' only because we hit bottom twenty years ago. It's hard to get lower than bottom.

Fifteen years ago my parish was closed. This was not because we had too many attendees to fit in the building.

Our new merged parish is about to close the school, at least there are continuous discussions about the number of empty desks in it.

About a month ago our Archdiocese announced it was closing several more parishes including the one in which I grew up.

I attend Midnight Mass almost every Christmas. When I was a kid at Midnight Mass they had to put a speaker in the vestibule so the people that had no hope of fitting into the fairly large church could listen to the rite and at least say they were in the building for the event.

Tomorrow night we won't likely fill more than half the church, and ours doesn't come close to holding the number of people as that one in my youth.

Perhaps they are doing better elsewhere. I hope so.

46 posted on 12/23/2010 4:14:37 AM PST by stevem
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To: MarineBrat

We should just call it FreeAdvice (FA)


47 posted on 12/23/2010 6:00:42 AM PST by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: old republic

Our awesome pastor is having a Latin Mass at 11am on Christmas Day—what a great present!

I was born in 1964 and don’t remember when every Mass was said in Latin-—but I am in love with it now. :)


48 posted on 12/23/2010 6:24:06 AM PST by Infidel Heather (In God I trust, not the Government.)
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To: MarineBrat

At least watch Mass on EWTN?

If your television provider doesn’t have it, or you don’t have a television, you can watch it online.

They broadcast it at 8am Eastern, then again at 12pm-—should be 9am your time? Then again at 7pm Eastern.

God bless you and walk in the Holy Spirit. :)


49 posted on 12/23/2010 6:33:53 AM PST by Infidel Heather (In God I trust, not the Government.)
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To: bboop

“Look for Confession hours posted”

The Cathedral in this diocese offers confession from 4 to 4:30 on Saturday afternoons, except during the week before Easter, when they hold that there is a “Catholic tradition” of not offering that Sacrament.

There’s even a sign to the effect that the priest has to knock off exactly at 4:30 to get ready for Mass.

Every parish in this diocese has electric Masses: you know you’re going to get a shock; you just don’t know what it’s going to be.

Tuesday morning, for instance, the priest had no servers, and he ad-libbed during Mass.


50 posted on 12/23/2010 6:57:23 AM PST by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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