Where Are Our Young People Going?

During the 10:30 Mass in my parish a couple of Sundays ago 32 boys and girls stood in front of the altar, faced the congregation, and formally affirmed their desire to be confirmed. It was part of the preparation for administering the sacrament next spring, and for many of us in that church it was a moving moment.

But the occasion was darkened for me by something I’d read just a few days earlier. If those 32 young people conform to the national averages, fewer than half of them will be practicing Catholics 10 years from now.

According to Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith and colleagues, only 7% of the sometime-Catholic young adults who were part of a largescale study they conducted several years ago were still practicing Catholics. Another 27% had plainly dropped out of the Church, while the rest reflected varying degrees of disengagement from their religion.

The picture was not a whole lot brighter even where the offspring of solidly Catholic parents were concerned. As one reviewer of Young Catholic America (Oxford University Press) by Smith and his associates put it, “even if you do everything right, the odds are way less than 50-50 that you’ll see your children turn out as Catholic as you are.”

These troubling findings coincide with mountains of anecdotal evidence to the same effect: a disturbingly high proportion of young sometime-Catholics in the United States and countries like it are walking away from the faith. Yes, there are plenty of young Catholics who are a credit to their families and their Church. The problem isn’t with them but with the very large number who to all intents and purposes have given up on their religion.

This is a crisis that deserves pondering as we try to make sense of last month’s world synod of bishops in Rome. The synod, which was itself a logical place for such pondering, seems to have spent its time talking about something else.

The gathering was billed in advance as a meeting on marriage and family life, including, one would suppose, the challenge of transmitting the faith to young people in an increasingly hostile secular environment. What we seem to have gotten instead was a heated discussion in which participants debated what the Church could and couldn’t appropriately do to reach out to cohabiting couples, divorced and remarried Catholics whose first marriages haven’t been annulled, and people in same-sex relationships.

No one questions that reaching out to these people is a good thing to do. The issue for the synod, it seems, was how to do it without seeming to approve their current situations—as, for example, by offering them holy communion. The bishops gathered in Rome with the Pope presiding apparently found it surprisingly difficult to answer that question.

But what does the synod have to say about the rest of us? What about kids like those 32 in my parish and the good Catholic parents who can’t help but worry as their youngsters move into a future in which their religious allegiance will be sorely tested? Mightn’t a synod on marriage and the family at least have given them equal time with cohabiting couples, the divorced and remarried, and people in same-sex unions?

There will be a second synod on marriage and family in October next year. Maybe the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops who convene then under the Pope will recoup. Those kids in my parish—and all the others like them in parishes around the world—deserve as much.

Russell Shaw

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Russell Shaw is a freelance writer from Washington, D.C. You can email him at RShaw10290@aol.com.

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  • Had ittohere

    On Holy Thursday night I attended a local parish at the invitation of a friend, my parish has fallen into the fad of washing the feet of the entire congregation, which I find boring and meaningless, my friend’s parish, he assured me did only 12 people’s tootsies. I went.
    Wow! Suffice to say it wasn’t quite “by the book” either but the high point came when the homily was given, tag team style, by the concelebrant and members of the youth group. A young fellow came to the ambo and lauded Father’s youth group and how he had come to deeper faith via Father’s ministering wisdom. However, he was starting college at a local commuter school and that would keep him away from Church quite a bit, we won’t be seeing him around very much any more, but he appreciated the faith the community and especially Father had instilled in him. Happily the audience, uh – er, I mean, uh congregation yeah, congregation and the celebrants applauded this admission of the intent to commit mortal sin.
    You’re right the Synod needed to address a lot of things it didn’t even bring up.

  • TerryC

    I think it’s time we face the facts that it is not about how actively Catholic parents are, or even how actively they attempt to pass on the faith to their children. It’s all about the university culture that many if not most of these young people will be exposed to. We spend a lot of our time teaching our young about the Catholic faith, but fail to instruct them in the fact that when they go off to college the culture there, even at most of the so-called “catholic” universities, is designed to attempt to get them to accept the morals of contemporary society. We don’t give them the tools to resist the pervasive culture of immoral behavior that says the way to joy is easy sex and relativism. And of course, separation from the “judgmental” and ‘out-of-touch with the modern world Church who would not approve of their lifestyle choices.

  • Simon D

    If their shepherds offered them a faith worth staying for, rather than a drippy social club with corny, jokey homilies and ecclesiastical documents that disguise their hollow emptiness behind a garb of vague buzzwords, maybe they would stay.

  • Simon D

    “The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself, should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson.” RS64.

  • Maria

    I think part of the problem lies at the parish level. I can educate my children in the faith, pray with them at home, and form them morally. What I need is a parish that backs me up — not relativistic, feel-good CCD/Catholic School and quotidian 70’s liturgy. I am involved with lapsed Catholics on the college level. They still are willing to respond to a moral challenge. And they are still capable of wonder at exalted things. But we’ve lowered the moral bar (in the name of mercy!) and we’ve given them a liturgy that fails to evoke anything other than. . . themselves.

  • Eric Neubauer

    I think the Church has to desire young people. I find it fascinating that St. Pope John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis all have had / do have great outreach and compelling words for young people. However, the parishes have to follow that by ministries designed to hold a conversation / build relationship with young people. The culture has changed. It is no longer a fact – if we build it they will come. Now we have to answer the question, “why should I come?” Young folks are quite smart and will not just conform to their parents faith no matter how devout they are. Great programs for youth, college and young professionals should not be rare but common in parish life.

  • Tim Danaher

    The solution is simple: liturgy and doctrine. Both these things are severely lacking in US parishes. The one hour we spend in public prayer should be the most beautiful and reverential time of your whole week. Instead, it becomes perfunctory and without solemnity. Not to judge hearts, but the faithful don’t honor God in their outward dress, can we assume they hold the same internal disposition? The homilies are thin and mostly void of any doctrine, especially the hard teachings. And youth who have been poorly catechized, seeing no reason to continue an exercise in futility turn away from Catholicism. The people, youth and adults, want truth, challenge, and substance when they worship at Mass each week. If we fix the liturgy, we can recover our lost sheep. Pray for the renewal of the liturgy.

  • David Matias

    How do you propose we “fix the liturgy” ?

  • David Matias

    I wonder if any of the commenters (excepting Eric) are young people? I’m guessing not. They seem to be saying “let’s make things stricter and harsher and more old-fashioned, that’ll get the young people to stay in the Church”. umm, ok

  • Tom

    These are not two separate issues, though.

    The fact is, many people leaving the faith are leaving exactly because of issues like divorce, cohabitation, and lgbt issues.

    They themselves may not be directly involved, but to make a strict dichotomy as if focusing on those issues is giving attention to a deviant minority when it’s “good catholic families” that need help is willful naïveté.

    These issues may only affect some, but our approach here comes with a socio-political attitude very often, an attitude that young people are rejecting as without any compelling moral authority.

  • Joe

    We need to catechize our children. We have to tell them WHY we believe. Do we even know ourselves? We have to tell them it’s ok to QUESTION–not doubt but to QUESTION the faith. And we need to send them to one of the handful of “faithful” Catholic Colleges. Not Notre Dame. Not one of the Jesuit Colleges (there are faithful Jesuit priests but not faithful Jesuit colleges). They need to learn faith AND reason. So, they have to have an understanding of philosophy. Even with this, they may go the way of the world. BUT, we’ve planted seeds in them. I know one young fellow named Gus. Very bright guy. Catholic mom. Non-Catholic dad. Got a secular education. Began co-habitating with his girlfriend. Child out of wedlock. Mother kept praying for him. Eventually this prodigal son came back to the Church. Maybe you’ve heard of him? St. Augustine. His mom? St. Monica. PRAY with your kids and for your kids. God bless you all.

  • blkequus

    My parents raised us in a very Catholic household, of 6 children I am the only practicing Catholic. I raised my two sons in the faith. With full explanations on why we believe what we believe. One is very faithful, the other is not.

  • blkequus

    philosophy is not taught and where it is taught it teaches there is no God. Ironically, my philosophy majoring son is a devout Catholic while my liberal arts son is not.

  • blkequus

    the real problem is that we live in a society that says we shouldn’t have to suffer and pleasure is the ultimate thing to seek. A church that teaches self discipline and suffering has value has a huge hurdle to overcome.

  • donttouchme

    The funny part is that’s exactly right. I wonder what the retention rate is for traditionalist Catholics? I’m guessing it’s better than 90%. What about for Amish, Mennonite and Hutterite Protestants who are all pretty “old-fashioned”? I’m a “millenial” btw. If I had kids no way would I subject them to the new mass and the JPII feminist Theology of the Body claptrap.

  • Tim Danaher

    David, short of bring back the Latin Mass, I would make the Mass Christ centered and not community centered. Let me use the parishes in my in my section of my archdiocese.
    1. institute quiet and reverence in the nave prior to the opening procession. This is a time for preparing yourself with an encounter with Christ, not to be chatting with friends.
    2. End the practice for greeting your neighbor or ask who is out of time. Focus is on us and not on Him.
    3. Music. Dump the modern hymns. The older hymns apart from being timeless where great catechetical tools set to music.
    4. No Alter Girls. The altar should be the domain of ordained men and young men who we want to be our future priest. Kind of an apprenticeship. If girls are allowed to serve at the alter, few boys will step forward. Plus if gives girls the impression that they could serve as priests. A problem that needs correction.
    5. Better musical arrangements of parts for the Mass, e.g., Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei. Using Latin (the official language of the Latin Church) periodically and set to a Chant setting would add more depth and mystery to the celebration. If English text is used, step setting them to “show tune” arrangements.
    6. Preach frequently homilies on the hot button issues of pre-marital sex, marriage, divorce, homosexuality, confession and forgiveness, mortal vs. venial sin, abortion, receiving communion in a state of grace, the four last things,…
    7. (Personal) No children’s offertory. Again placing too much attention on the cute little children.
    8. (Personal) Have the bread and wine on the alter and only bring up the monetary donations. There is no need for people to have parts in the Mass.
    9. Beautiful vessels. Stop using cheap medal or earthen vessels for the sacred species. This is the God come down from heaven, put him in a beautiful chalice and paten made of precious metals.
    10. At the first elevations, have the priest adore and reverence the host and precious blood, live they really believe they are holding Christ in their hands.
    11. Use bells during the consecration.
    12. (Personal) No hands at the Our Father or at least no leaving pews to reach others.
    13. Don’t have the priest/deacon exercise the sign of peace. It is optional. The sign of peace becomes another moment when we turn our attention from Christ and turn in into a “chat fests”.
    14. Knee at the second elevation. One parish remains standing until the last person receives communion. When the priest says, “Behold the Lamb of God…” we should be on our knees adorning our Lord while saying “Lord, I am not worthy…”
    15. During communion, play or sing softer/quieter hymns. The bands/choirs have a tendency to play loud/robust hymns while people are receiving and communing with the Lord.
    16. (Personal) No applauding at Mass. After Mass, there are often lengthy announcements and a special presentation/speaker. Often times the priest recognized a special group or person and we all applaud. If a special recognition is warranted, have a reception after Mass.
    17. Bring back universal prayers. Have the priest and the people knee and offer the Pray of St. Micheal for the protection of the church.
    18. Observe silent after Mass and encourage the people to offer prayers of thanksgiving. Often times, the nave of full of loud chatter as more talking occurs.
    19. Have the priest offer the facing the altar and not the people. There are only seven times when the priest is required to face the people. In the ad orientum posture, the priest is leading the congregation in offer prayers to the Father, rather than turning away from God.
    20. Better vestments. Again fine materials for our priest and deacons and black cassocks and surplices for the alter boys.
    21. Encourage the faithful to dress as though they are meeting God, because they are.
    22. Bring back the emphasis of Mass as a sacrifice and lessen to emphasis on the Mass as a meal and alter vs. table. Need some balance.
    That is a lot. The bottom line comes down to reverence in music, dress, rubrics, and disposition of the people. We are at Mass to worship God, and to receive him in the word and flesh, not to turn to our attention on us. Anyone have anything to add or change? Sorry in advance for any typos.

  • Tim Danaher

    Ditto. In most NO masses, the focus of Mass is that of a meal and less on sacrifice. When you have this “meal” attitude their is more emphasis on community and fellowship. When Mass is presented as a sacrifice, there is more challenge and acknowledgement of our fallen mortal natures that cry of a savior and the need for repentance. The NO can be a meaningful Mass, but it take extra work by the priest and laity.

  • Patrick Cullen

    Sadly, there is no easy fix for the mess we are in. I was one of those kids who left the church shortly after graduating high school. It was a slow drifting away, but by the time I was 30, I was gone. When I finally came full circle and returned to the church in my late 30’s, I didn’t recognize it. Watered down homilies; confession by appointment only; the list could go on and on. This wasn’t the church that I had left.

    I ended up finding an Eastern Catholic parish that filled the spiritual gap that I was needing. And the thing is, it required something of me. There are 5 fasting periods throughout the year; feast days (holy days) don’t get moved to the nearest Sunday; the priest knows you personally and such can give effective spiritual direction. For me, this required an education in authentic Catholic teachings…things I never received as a kid.

    Parents need to be the ones to educate their children in the authentic faith. Do not rely on the parish to do it for you because there is a good chance what they will learn is not authentic. Find a priest who isn’t afraid to preach on the tough issues(contraception, same sex marriage, tithing, etc) and stay close to him. Sadly, you have to look to find orthodox catholic teaching this day. Gone are the days when you could attend your neighborhood parish and be assured of orthodoxy.

  • Maria

    Well not young, but I’m in my 30’s and the mother of littles! Definitely born long after VII.

  • David Matias

    I’m sure this would make you very happy. Do you seriously think that this will HELP retain young Catholics?

  • David Matias

    De-emphasizing community and MORE challenge and acknowledgement of our fallen mortal natures. That’ll attract the young!

  • JD

    I don’t know if I’m young enough for your consideration (I’m 29), but I can tell you my story. I grew up in the faith and even went to Catholic school. My parents never talked about the faith, but we never missed Sunday Mass. In high school I grew sick and tired of the folksy guitar Masses, with 20 minute marshmallow homilies and lightning fast Eucharistic prayers, that I witnessed. The tabernacle was hidden, the congregation was loud and boisterous in Church, never in quiet, reverent prayer (let alone adoration). To me, this was the Catholic faith. Also, the priests I knew were Harvey Milquetoasts. The faith was presented, by these priests and my teachers, as kumbaya, hugs, and hand-holding – just be a good person. It drove me and my friends away because we perceived Catholics and the faith at large as fake or inauthentic. I was blessed to stumble into an incredible Newman Center in college where my perception of the faith was turned on its head. Here people were quiet and reverent in the presence of the Eucharist. For the first time in my life, I began to believe in the Real Presence, and everything changed for me from there.

    My guess is this is what other commenters are trying to say. Bring in solemnity and reverence in the liturgy, as this should be our primary encounter with Christ, and things will change. Beautiful liturgy will help us encounter the Beautiful One. Quiet will help us hear Him speak to us personally. Solemn reverence will help us comprehend His awesomeness. After I had encountered Christ personally an increasing desire to know, understand, and assent to Church doctrine naturally followed. And at the Newman Center my questions were answered with the Truth of Catholic teaching, not avoided, not with dumbed down answers, not with lies like in my high school years (i.e.”we don’t believe that anymore”).

    Here are a couple articles that I think reinforce this solution.

    http://marklambert.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/wondering-how-to-reignite-faith-in-west.html
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/study-shows-millennials-turned-off-by-trendy-church-buildings-prefer-a-classic-sanctuary-129675/

    Finally I’d like to comment on the quote in the article: “even if you do everything right, the odds are way less than 50-50 that you’ll see your children turn out as Catholic as you are.” I’ve encountered many faithful Catholic parents who lament that some of their children have left the faith. I’ve also encountered several families wherein all of the children are not just practicing, but very devout, with some religious and priestly vocations. The commonality of those families? A daily rosary.

  • Joe

    I agree that many Catholics are not catechized about the Mass being a “sacrifice”. But, the Church clearly teaches the NO is a “sacrifice”.

    From the “TODAY’S MISSAL”:

    Priest: Pray, Brethren, that our SACRIFICE may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

    People: May the Lord accept the SACRIFICE at your hands, for the praise and glory of His Name, for our good, and the good of all his Church.

    The Prayer over the Gifts refers to “sacrifice” and “offerings”.

    EUCHARISTIC PRAYER ONE

    “We come to you Father, with praise and thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ your Son.
    Through Him we ask you to accept and bless these gifts we offer you in SACRIFICE…We offer you this SACRIFICE of praise…Bless and approve our OFFERING…we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect SACRIFICE…Look with favor on these OFFERINGS and accept them as once you accepted the GIFTS of your servant Abel, the SACRIFICE Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchisedech. Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this SACRIFICE to your altar in Heaven…

    In one Eucharistic prayer the word “sacrifice” is used five times and the word “offer/offering” is used at least four times. The word “gift/gifts” is used at least twice. You have an altar and a priest. What does a priest do? Offer sacrifice. Not just a Catholic priest. But, also a Jewish priest and even pagan priests: “…the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to OFFER SACRIFICE.” (Acts of the Apostles 14:13). Again, I understand many are not aware of this.

    No one in the ancient world would be confused that the NO is a sacrifice.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes quite clear the “sacrificial character” of the Mass in paragraphs: 1359-61, 2643, 1365-72, 1410, 1414, 1372. Here’s one paragraph:

    “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are ONE SINGLE SACRIFICE: ‘The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offers himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.’ And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an un-bloody manner…this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.”

    CCC 1367

    Sounds like a sacrifice to me.

    God bless you

  • Don

    Confirmation, to many young adults, is graduation from church membership. Their parents tell them, “You need confirmation to get married in the church, so do it now to avoid complications later.” Meanwhile, the parents rarely attend church.

    Who does? The shrinking elderly generation and the few families with very young kids.

    Why? The elders took confirmation as a commitment to live a life of faith. They built and supported the church all their lives. Of course, the church back then had a greater social impact, parish events and campaigns. The elderly haven’t forgotten what a church could be.

    The families with young children are exceptions in many ways. Primarily, they have children. Many of their peers have chosen to nurture pets instead of kids. The parents of the young do want to give the church a chance with their kids.

    What can we do? The church began in a world like ours, dominated by paganism and materialism. The early Christians were often poor and even slaves. How could the church ever survive or attract the pagans and materialists? The early Christians stood out form the rest, “See how they love one another.” If the Church of Jesus is to evangelize its lost children and the children of the world, it must become the indisputable symbol of love. Not the enforcer of rules nor the inquisitor nor the chosen few. It must profess and demonstrate love for all, especially those who shun the Church.

    If Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, and associated with prostitutes, what would He do today? Saint Teresa of Calcutta provided a clue as did Saint Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis who kissed the feet of convicts, including unbelievers. If Pope Francis has upgraded the image of the Roman Catholic Church among Non-Catholics as well as many Catholics, what would happen if the clergy began to act like pastors rather than princes? What would happen if Pro-life Catholics realized that poverty is a pro-life issue and not just abortion? What would happen if Catholics offered material assistance to those seeking abortion so that the child would be born and receive care?

    If a young adult realized that confirmation obliged him or her to pick up the cross of service to humanity, that person may see the sacrament for what it is rather than a mere occasion for a party. If the couples who attend diocesan marriage preparation courses actually realized that marriage is a life long committment to service to each other, and to their family, the church and the greater community, rather than an expensive party followed by a vacation and a life focused primarily on themselves, their marriages would rest on Christ and draw support from the church community.

    It all starts with, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

  • David Matias

    I grew up going to a somewhat more traditional parish in New York, it was old school but not hardcore conservative trad cat. My parents never got in depth with us about the faith not because they didn’t want to but probably because they didn’t know (they weren’t educated and neither was I). Anyway, we meant to mass every Sunday and I was an altar boy and I received the sacraments and then in my late teens I strayed from the Church. Why? because it was to soft and liberal? Hardly! More because it was cold and dry and not relevant to what was happening in my life.
    I’m not saying Mass shouldn’t be reverent, but what’s wrong with being warm and alive and welcoming. Is our sole duty as Christians to be solemn and reverent in praise and worship? Are we not called to be followers after Christ and to proclaim the Good News to all? Isn’t the best way to do this through our actions (BE the face of Christ to the world)? Latin and incense and the priest facing the altar is all well and good but where is the Love? Hard to see. Putting the reverence ahead of everything is putting the cart before the horse imho.
    I went to a Tridentine Mass a month ago and it was obviously serious about the rituals but as a newcomer I was not welcomed at all, I had little idea what was going on, and I felt judged by the eyes of others for not doing things correctly, but none of my brothers and sisters in Christ offered any compassion or aid or advice (even after the Mass). It was a cold shoulder that I got not the beating heart of the Living Savior.
    Meanwhile, at the parish that I’m a member of (that has all the things that traddies hate) I feel welcomed and cherished and inspired to live out the Gospel in the world. God forbid!
    I think all this talk of traditionalism is a whole lot of preaching to the converted. Of course the people currently in the church want to keep is traddy but what of the ones fallen away or not yet converted. Have you ever talked to a fallen away Catholic and heard them say ” well I would go back to church but it’s just so liberal and soft, I wish that it would not get with the times at all, that’s what I really long for …” ?

  • David Matias

    Amen. I couldn’t have said it better.

  • donttouchme

    The whole old Mass is an objective correlative for the sacrifice of Christ. You go in, everyone is kneeling, you read some psalms, the bell rings, everyone stands, the first part you get a little contemplative feeling, then you get a break for the homily, then you’re straight back into it working deeper toward the consecration, then after the consecration there is no chit chat signs of peace, and you slowly come back up to the ite missa est and the Hail Marys and prayer to St. Michael the archangel. Point is the whole thing is linear, profound and reasonably demanding. Compared to the new mass which is disjointed, casual, herky jerky and impossible to sink into in contemplation or contemplativeness if that’s the technical wrong use of “contemplation.” There’s always someone talking at you to announce a song or shake your hand or something.

  • David Matias

    The Mass is very important, but there is more to the Catholic faith than JUST the Mass.

  • Tim Danaher

    The Mass has always been a sacrifice, what I’m getting at is the over-emphasis by some parishes and catechetical texts of the meal aspect vice the sacrificial nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Just more hippy mumbo jumbo theology confusing the faithful.

  • Tim Danaher

    I do think this would not only retain the youth but draw them in. There is no uniformity in the Mass between parishes, each one has to have its only little twist to make it particular to this or that parish. The music is banal. By and large, the focus is on the priest and the people and not on Christ. After Jesus is “put back in the box” (tabernacle) usually off to the sign, we go into the celebration of “Us” complete with a myriad or announcements and few recognition with plenty of applause. Why do we not applaud at the consecration, isn’t that the “source and summit” of our faith? If we can’t get the Mass right, how can we effectively evangelize others to the trues of the faith? Right now, 85% of self identified Catholic’s 18-24 years, see no problem with homosexual marriages. We have a pastor in Kansas City, who knowingly hired a married lesbian to work on the parish staff. When will get serious about worshiping God in a proper manner and live and believe what the Church says it professes. The youth are looking for real and authentic forms of worship. And when they sense a parish that is pretentious they vote with their feet. Hopefully they will find another parish, if not they migrate to a protestant church or quit worshiping altogether. The Mass is crucial to build a strong Christian foundation in order to change the world.

  • David Matias

    I’m wondering how old you are and if you know any young people (outside of the church)

  • Had ittohere

    You’re right, Mary. The point, Simon D, is that the congregation thinks it’s dandy that this kid is planning to commit mortal sin. The goofy homilist configuration is a symptom of the flaws in the parish which produce the effect of approbation for mortal sin and thus the answer to Russell Shaw’s question.

  • JD

    Wrong. We cannot give what we do not have. You have forgotten the first part.

    36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    Our love of neighbor should come from an overflowing of our love for God. The man-centered church is dying, the Christ-centered church is thriving.

  • JD

    This is the kind of drivel we’ve come to expect from liberals. Just the Mass, what idiotic nonsense. It’s just Jesus! Can’t we move on and focus on more important things like community! sic The Mass and in particular, the Eucharist, is the source and summit of our faith. In our Eucharistic Lord is the only place to find true community.

    Unconverted liberals chasing their own tails…

  • Joseph

    The problem is Liberalism which has the basic doctrine of “I am the center of my universe; traditional structures be damned!” There is no room here for an adequate explanation. There is a terrific article in the December issue of First Things, “Sex and the Religion of Me” by James Kalb. If you really care about the Church, our Government, and Society, please read it–much room for thought.

  • JD

    What’s your suggestion David? The liberal philosophy in Catholic parishes has left the country with parish closures and vocations shortages. But keep banging that drum! Stay on that sinking ship! Fa-la-la-la-la!

  • Tim Danaher

    I’m 50 years old and have taught Confirmation, Post- Confirmation Apologetics (in another diocese), and currently teach 8th grade religious education. In total, I have been active in religious education for the past seven years. I started the first Returning Catholics in my parish. I know a few outside the church, but the ones I know inside my parish concern me greatly. Even though the study material doesn’t cover it, I’m appalled my how little they know of their Catholic Faith and Doctrine. Just last week, we talked about mortal sin and its conditions. Many have not been to confession since their first confession. Many have forgotten how to make a good confession. And as for my parish, we’re just slightly better than your 1970’s folk Mass parish and celebrate in a barren church in the round. I do have to say we have a beautiful 12 tall San Damiano icon crucifix. How about you?

  • Don

    I didn’t forget. I read the Soul of the Apostolate.

  • Tim Danaher

    My point with not presenting the bread and wine ties it back to the TLM where those items are already on the credence table and brought forward by the altar boys. It is not a huge thing with me, but one which was quite effective in my last parish. Also, fewer moving parts, which does not rush the priest during the consecration.

  • David Matias

    I really feel the love of Christ coming from you.

  • David Matias

    I replied to another comment saying where I’m coming from.

  • pnyikos

    “What would happen if Catholics offered material assistance to those
    seeking abortion so that the child would be born and receive care?”

    I expect the same thing that happened when the late Cardinal O’Connor did exactly that, offering any woman in his Archidiocese of New York all the financial assistance she needed to give birth and to raise her child or put it up for adoption.

    This offer was totally ignored by the media. He told us how he had repeatedly told reporters about the offer, and invariably been ignored, in the early 1990’s at an enormous pro-life rally in Washington DC with perhaps half a million participants. He was again ignored by the Washington Post, which buried the story of this gigantic rally in the second section. The same Washington Post had devoted almost a full front page to a “pro-choice” rally that had taken place earlier that year with only about half as many participants.

    And you are a living example of the effects of such news blackouts, Don.

  • Don

    Thanks Dave. Let’s pray for each other so that we may become the face of Jesus, who in turn is the Face of the Father.

    God Bless!

  • David Matias

    Sometimes I think “Traditional” Catholics are modern day Pharisees, focusing on which way the priest is facing and what the altar boys are wearing and if they’re ringing the bells or not. Always seeing the splinter in the others eye, always boasting their superior holiness. But they do not have love, so what do they have?

  • pnyikos

    I am glad you found what you were looking for in an Eastern Catholic parish. The wishy-washy custom of moving holy days to the nearest Sunday is the direct result of very low Mass attendance on those days. In stunning contrast, Ash Wednesday Masses are standing room only in our parish.

    And it isn’t even a holy day of obligation. It does, however, provide the “something required of me” in the form of wearing ashes on our foreheads in the big outside world, even the workplace if one gets them at an early morning Mass. This is the kind of challenge that might turn around Church involvement, if only the priests had the guts and ingenuity to tap into it.

  • Don

    Don’t forget the TV blackouts of the annual march on DC, not just in the 90s.

    We are Judged by Jesus our Savior and Advocate. His verdict, not the opinions of the media ultimately count. I applaud the efforts of the late Cardinal and wish more people participated in them. If the love of Christ urges us onward, we will stand in His place to claim what is His among those weighed down by desperation and by those who profit from their plight. Jesus loves each of us, the good and the bad. His Divine Mercy will overcome any sin we or other mortals commit. Let’s pray, and work as the extension of Jesus in the world. God Bless.

  • David Matias

    you forgot the second part

  • pnyikos

    Granted, there is a good bit of overlap. But a great many others are simply searching for a meaning in life after not finding it in the wishy-washy atmosphere that prevails in all too many parishes.

    Then too, a great many young are led astray in college by faculty to “re-examine what you were taught” while most of the faculty themselves are quite sure their own beliefs are the ones needing to be inculcated. And inculcate them they will, with all kinds of views of what is right and normal (in the name of “diversity,”), as well as with a secularist view of religious belief as being a purely “private” affair with no rational basis.

  • pnyikos

    The problem is, neither the atmosphere you grew up in — as did I– nor the feel-good pseudo-Vatican-II Catholicism that replaced it are anything like what Christianity and Catholicism should be like. My return to serious faith began when I encountered a missionary arm of the Church of Christ near the University of Illinois. There I saw true fervor, with congregants in many ways attempting to live like the early Christians.

    But my job took me far from there, and I was lucky enough to discover a Catholic parish near Auburn University which had an outreach to the university that was also full of the kind of fervor that I had missed up to then. And so by degrees I returned to the Catholic Church.

  • BillLG5

    Amidst the tangibility of the secular environment, young Catholics of today will neglect God as being irrelevant and not pertinent to ‘real’ life matters. Thus, they will most likely bounce around in the material world with a sensate perspective of living life. Unless the Church seriously focuses on and convincingly argues for the existence of God and for the historical validity of Jesus and Scripture, it will not matter whether or not more common questions such as “why confess to a priest” or “why do Catholics worship Mary” are answered.

  • donttouchme

    I think it’s a tough love kind of thing because 1 they’re confident in the Faith 2 they’re steeped in a much more masculine environment which means directness and confrontation which feels unloving to people unaccustomed to it but it really isn’t. It’s just not the wheedling affirmation-of-your-feelings-above-all, consensus/manipulation driven style that counts as “love” in the wheedling system that young people and everyone else despises and is fleeing from.

  • David Matias

    I get that. But I think people exaggerate a bit. Like, if I don’t go to a Tridentine Mass then I’m automatically in hippie Joel Osteen territory. It’s clear to ME that any Eucharistic Celebration is a Holy Sacrifice.
    Also, where is the love OUTSIDE of Mass? Some people get on their high horse because the go to the Highest, Holiest, Most Traditional Mass but what do they do the other 98% of the time? How do they LIVE as the Body of Christ in the WORLD?

  • donttouchme

    From what I’ve seen they don’t do anything special. They just have families and jobs and raise their kids and go to Mass on Sundays, holy days of obligation and when they can the rest of the time, read more than average, have truly excellent parties, and don’t generally think of living in the world as Catholics as some big mystical thing. Which is somewhat counter intuitive given their devotion to tradition and the Highest, Holiest, Most Traditional Mass. Making the Catholic life a Huge mysterious way of living as the BODY of CHRIST in the WORLD is mainly for people spinning their wheels and stuck with trying to compensate for an ugly Mass.

  • David Matias

    Are the Traditional Catholics God’s chosen few? What about the rest of us? Are we not devoted to Christ because we attend a Mass where the priest doesn’t face the altar?
    Will the Lord condemn me on the last day because I worshipped Him at a Mass that You think is ugly?
    What does pride go before?

  • donttouchme

    It’s not personal. These are just my observations. I think the new liturgy is objectively ugly for the reasons I gave above. I think that’s part of why young people abandon it, because they all can recognize objective ugliness. People stuck with the new liturgy kind of HAVE to defend it because of pride (they can’t let go of Vatican II) even though everyone knows it’s ugly, and since they’re steeped in a feminine environment they cannot just come out and say the obvious. Just like people stuck with JPII’s annihilation of the father as the head of the family HAVE to defend that, even though it makes marriage ugly the same way the new liturgy makes the Mass ugly and young people, especially men, are abandoning both. No one knows who is going to Heaven.

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