The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

The pews get even emptier

Grim numbers from Ohio point to a larger trend in the American Church:

Almost two out of three Catholics in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky won’t go to church this weekend to celebrate Mass, an event they have been told since childhood is the center of their spiritual lives.

The church’s most recent count of people in the pews found that about 290,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and 60,000 in the Diocese of Covington skip Mass in a typical week.

The annual attendance count begins again next month, but church officials don’t expect dramatic improvement.

Mass attendance has been falling steadily for decades across the country as a growing majority of Catholics find other things to do on Sundays, from shuttling their kids to soccer games to hitting the snooze button and sleeping in.

The reasons for the decline have been debated for years, with fingers pointed at busier schedules, a changing culture and discontent with Catholic leaders.

But whatever the explanation, the absence of so many Catholics from the most important gathering of their faith is a major challenge for the church.

“There are serious problems, structural problems, all up and down the line,” said William D’Antonio, who has studied Mass attendance for almost 25 years at the Catholic University of America. “If you’re asking what are the future trends, they’re bleak.”

Not everyone is so pessimistic, but bishops and priests recognize the trend is headed in the wrong direction. Mass attendance fell by about 41,000 in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in the past decade and by about 7,000 in the Diocese of Covington – a drop of almost 20 percent for each diocese.

According to last year’s attendance count, 62 percent of the 468,000 Catholics who are registered at parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and 67 percent of the 89,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Covington will not go to Mass on any given week.

D’Antonio said national surveys he’s conducted since 1987 show sharp generational differences, with older Catholics attending Mass far more often than younger Catholics. He said just 20 percent of Catholics born after 1978 regularly attend Mass.

“I do see the value in it, but it’s just not for me right now,” said Dani Patton, 26, a Mount Adams resident who was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools but now rarely attends Mass. “I still feel Catholic because I was so engaged in it growing up. But I don’t feel aligned with it any more.”

D’Antonio said unless young Catholics such as Patton can be brought back into the fold, attendance will keep falling as the older, church-going generations fade away.

The result could be devastating for parishes, which would lose not only people, but also spiritual and financial support for schools, food pantries and other activities that have defined Catholic churches for centuries.

“There’s an entire generation of Catholics that kind of lost their sense of what is right and wrong, of what it is to be a Catholic,” said the Rev. Geoff Drew, pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe church in Liberty Township. “Mass is not optional. It’s an obligation.”

Read on for more.

Okay. Any practical thoughts on how we can turn this around?

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posted September 22, 2010 at 7:19 am

I think there are at least two problems that can be identified.
– I have it on reasonably good authority from (3) college age and (1) high school age children that young people are NOT getting a sense of the spiritual/divine out of the Mass. We have fairly reverent Masses at convenient times with a strong sense of “community”, but there is no sense of “awe” or the “mystical” here. Granted you get out of it what you put into it, but that’s not really cutting it when all you’ve been told you have to do is show up and participate.
– We no longer have a sense of “Catholic Identity.” Everybody’s the same, right?
I don’t know what the answer is to these, and other, problems. I do know that, given a choice of sleeping in, playing golf, etc., and attending a Mass that doesn’t extend their attention beyond themselves, Mass loses.
It’s a terrible situation.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 7:53 am

I think Jack has identified the root causes of this drop in attendance.
I teach CCD in my parish and have contact with a lot of children there. The sense of the “awesome” (in the true sense of the word) when in church is gone. I don’t believe that their parents have ever experienced that either, having had their religious education in the ’80s and ’90s. And yes, many catechists are hesitant to stress the concept of ‘truth’ regarding our Catholic faith because that is not inclusive, is it? It’s judgemental, alienating and possibly offensive. I have even been told that we “can’t demand that the kids attend Mass every Sunday” because the parents will complain.
I recently had the experience of teaching at a Catholic homeschool co-op. The first order of day was attending Mass. There must have been 50 – 60 children there ranging in age from 6 months – Moms and Dads attended with the entire family – to 17 years. The only fidgeting done was by the very youngest kids, maybe three years old and under. No Cheerios, juice boxes, “church toys’ and no talking.
Do I think that every child was having a mystical experience? Of course not. But they were obviously learning that the Mass is an extraordinary experience where you must pay attention and be reverent.
I am tired of the arguments about ‘guitar vs. organ’, dressing up for Mass vs. coming in shorts, pre- vs. post-Vatican II, etc., etc., etc.,. All I ask is that we take a look at before and after – how many people not only attended Mass every Sunday but had a strong belief in the Catholic faith itself before we relaxed all the rules that made the Holy Mass a transcendent experience?
Catechesis is the answer for both children and adults.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 8:01 am

You won’t change anything until you realize what really caused all this:
Please note: I’m not saying anything about the theology involved, nor are the authors of the original study, which stands up well after forty years.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 8:29 am

I entered the church in 1982. I have never heard a priest mention the “Sunday Obligation” from the pulpit . . . ever. If I didn’t read, I wouldn’t know it existed. That’s why I had to raise my eyebrows at the description of mass as “an event they have been told since childhood is the center of their spiritual lives.” Really? These people must have been hearing something else for the last 20 or more years. All I have heard is silence on the subject.

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Ryan Ellis

posted September 22, 2010 at 8:33 am

Isn’t this fairly obvious at this point? Don’t we have 25 years of these stories, and 25 years of booming vocation stories from traditional religious communities? Don’t we have stories of packed traditional Latin Masses and reverent, Latin novus ordos?
Is there really any doubt anymore? Why are we even raising the question?
It’s so obvious. Young men, especially, are not going to go to some Baby Boomer woman-led, non-Catholic, emotional, blah liturgy. When the liturgy is done by the book and with love, people go. When it’s total crap (as it is all over suburban America), they rightly view it as a waste of their time.
Personally, I’m pretty tired of having to point out the obvious again and again. Let’s accept the answer, move on, and do what everyone knows we need to do.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 8:39 am

I think that evangelism is in order. It has been a long time since I have heard a homily encouraging everyone to bring a lapsed friend to mass. Often the focus seems to be on our personal faith and spirituality instead of how we can share the gift of the Church with others.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 8:40 am

As one of the young Catholics that is struggling right now to fit in, I have a few suggestions.
1. REACH OUT TO US! All it takes is someone asking us to help with something in the Parish to reconnect us. I have filled out Time and Talent forms for years and only one person ever called me. That Priest got a campus minister for 4 years.
2. There needs to be something in addition to Mass. If all we see is one hour a week, we’re more likely to disconnect and go to the mega non-denominational down the street. It’s not about power point or music, it’s about a feeling of community. Young people are looking to belong. This is why Catholic Newman Centers do so well on campuses when they have good programming in addition to Mass.
3. Look to see what the growing Parishes like St. Timothy’s in Mesa, AZ, and Our Lady of the Assumption in O’Fallon, MO are doing.
4. Don’t call the Liturgy that we grew up with wrong or trite. To us Marty Haugen, David Haas, Steve Angrisano, and the St. Louis Jesuits are the soundtrack of our spiritual journey. When I help with Mass for the Boy Scouts, I know that I can give them the words to Gather Us In and they will sing it with gusto without the need for a piano, organ, guitar or kazoo.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 8:46 am

That ‘awe’ is the sense of ‘sacred'; something our culture has worked to eliminate because it require responsible pleasure rather. That sense of sacred is our Mass, without it, we seek words for norishment – that requires oratory skills rather than sacramental gifts. There are times attendance increases – in times of difficulty, such as 9-11, and when people experience holiness – visits by Popes or individuals such as Mother Teresa. Why? They convey ‘sacred’.

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Deacon Jerry

posted September 22, 2010 at 9:00 am

I’ve been involved in Teen Ministry for a while now. Have set up plenty of “Teen Masses” with music supplied by guitar’s etc. I have to admit I’ve had enought. At our Teen Masses beginning this October the emphisis will be on the Mystery,the Reverence, and the music. We’ll be using Latin for the Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and if the celebrant is willing the closing blessing. The music will be provided by an organist and will be reverent. Probably Gregorian Chant sounding. There will be candles, incense, an entrance procession and hopefull a very short “sign of peace”. If I win lotto I will have the altar rails replaced that had been removed sometime during the 60’s. This is not an attempt to go back to the Traditional Latin Mass. It is an attempt to show the teens where they came from. Will all this help the teens feel the mystery and experience the Real Presence? I say yes. One more thing, if I can only turn some of the energy efficient florecense lights into candles I think I’ll hit a home run.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 9:23 am

I’m convinced the answer is TRUTH. People are starved for it, and it will pack a church every time. I’ve watched it happen twice. Once in a new church in Oceanside CA. The priest was a “Father Corapi” type (who often says that if you give him any church, anywhere, he will have it busting at the seams in less than a year). That is exactly what happened in the new church in Oceanside with Father Wallace. He’s simply an extraordinary holy priest, with his only goal the salvation of the souls of his flock.
Recently on the East Coast, where I’m currently living, in a small parish church, the pastor died suddently a few months ago. In all of the years I’ve attended daily mass, the “average crowd” has been about 20-30 max, depending on the city, etc. This particular church would get about 25 at daily mass. The new priest started only 6 weeks ago, and truly is not afraid to speak the hard truths of the faith, but always in a loving and comprehensive way, carefully explaining the “why” behind the harder teachings. No surpise, word got out, DAILY mass now often has as many as 100 people, something I have never seen. As well, people are quitting other parishes and attending this one.
Next month (Oct 30th) Father Corapi will speak at the Prudental Center in Newark, NJ (all day seminar). Anyone really wanting to understand the power of “packing them in”, needs to witness this event, as it will be full of Americans of all ages, packing a stadium like a rock star, leaving no doubt that truth and only truth is what we want to hear. Dcn Greg you might want to think about going, as it’s truly mind boggling to see that kind of a crowd so in love with a priest.
For the record, Father Corapi gave up his tax exempt status long ago, which is something I thing the American Catholic Church should also do. I can guarantee that any financal loss from taxes will more than be offset by the increase in the pews.
Truth works every time, and I know it’s the number one reason for the decline. The God of moral relativism is quite simply, not convincing or challenging anyone.
Look at England and the recent papal visit. Did anyone who fought the crowds to be in the presence of the Pope really think they were going to hear a “watered-down, God is love, love, love and nothing else message?
Every heart is made for God, and every heart is drawn to truth, knowingly or unknowingly.

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Deacon Andy

posted September 22, 2010 at 9:24 am

Certainly the attendance decline in the Catholic Churches parallels what is occuring with other main line congregations (Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.,) throughout the U.S.A. The United States attendance is far better than in Europe but is beginning to follow that trend.
More and more people are unchurched. Evangelizing in our 21st century needs to be as technologically advanced to compete with modern media such as facebook twitter linked in and on and on. We must realize what we are competing against. The young generation is captivated literally by instant gradification. I just heard that the majority of video games designed today are to market to the 30 year old group.
Our outreach has to be bible thumping on the Droid, short and to the point relevant bullet points about salvation. We need the sense of the mystical and awesomeness of God to be conveyed to a generation who are more concerned with computers and personal information as opposed to being a part of a larger social group nourished by a larger community. They share community but in a much different way than the older generations did. The good news is that God always provides ways to touch hearts and to bring His message to everyone. We must be vigilent and teach ourselves to accept and develop our technological skills to bring Jesus to them. After all The Body of Christ is the Universal Church!

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posted September 22, 2010 at 9:28 am

it’s truly mind boggling to see that kind of a crowd so in love with a priest.
intended to say, “so in love with a priest who is NOT AFRAID TO SPEAK TRUTH.” Of couse it’s the truth people are drawn to, not Father Corapi per se.

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Tony Rossi

posted September 22, 2010 at 9:52 am

Years ago during an interview on The Christophers’ TV show, the actor Carroll O’Connor was asked why his Catholicism remained an important part of his life. He said that he grew up with parents who treated the faith and going to Church as something special and reverent. Sunday was a special day in his home. If young people aren’t going to Mass, could it be because it wasn’t treated as important by their parents? If so, then there’s a whole other generation the Church needs to reach out to.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 10:09 am

It’s simple. Catholic unorthodoxy. Liturgical abuse. Abuse of the Missal. No Latin in the Mass! Bishops and priests excusing themselves from the Church’s high sexual standards hence the sex abuse scandal. I’ll be accused of calumny and detraction.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 10:23 am

A major urban center in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is Dayton. A century ago, it was a major goal of a LOT of Ellis Island immigrants because of its plentiful factory work. Now, a century later, the families of those immigrants have abandoned the urban neighborhood of their parents and grandparents for the suburbs. Parishes like St. Christopher Vandalia, St. Peter Huber Heights, and St. Luke Beavercreek are all over 10,000 parishioners (with all the impressive programs so common in “mega-churches”) while in the German, Polish, Hungarian and Lithuanian neighborhoods in Old North End — where the Ellis Island folks settled — have four small parishes pastored by ONE priest. In the now predominantly African American neighborhoods of the Wright-Dunbar area, all of the small — primarily “Anglo” — Catholic parishes have been closed and a new — primarily African American parish dedicated to the memory of St. Benedict the Moor has started, grown and stabilized into a very thriving parish serving a very dedicated community.
My point: empty pews are a concern at some neighborhood levels but that is not caused by lack of devotion as much as simple lack of people. Those successful parishes I cite as examples of active laity are not really unique — they are all over.
AND, I agree, Campus Newman Centers are thriving.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 10:31 am

” These people say they are loyal to me. They say wonderful things about me, but they are really not loyal to me. ” Their worship consists of nothing but MAN-MADE RITUAL “. People want to hear the GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST and not some 10 MINUTE HOMILY FROM FR. RUSH !!

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Jeff Tan

posted September 22, 2010 at 10:58 am

Pope Benedict said these words recently:
“A Church that seeks to be particularly attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power. .. the Church does not seek to be attractive in and of herself, but must be transparent for Jesus Christ.. for the great figure of Christ and the great truth that he has brought to humanity. ..”
I think this does not only apply to homilies, nor only to the clergy. If we all behaved with zeal and faithfulness in the sacraments, in our homes (with our children), in parish life, and in our every activity, then we’ll all get it. The irony is that simply living the faith (in faith, hope and love) is probably the best marketing we can do.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 11:03 am

There’s relativism and then there’s Catholic relativism.
I have worked for a Catholic Hospital in Pa. for over 27 years. In all those years, I have never seen one crusifix EVER in any office, corridor, patient room, department…nowhere except in the pastoral care office. Never has there been a bible in any patient room…even fleabag motels have a King James version in the night stand.
When asked, the answer remains a whiney, “We don’t want to offend anyone.”…boy I’m sure glad Jesus didn’t preach the gospel with that attitude. OF COURSE YOU’RE GOING TO OFFEND PEOPLE…but not on purpose. What an awesome (kinda getting tired of that word)opportunity to talk to them with compassion and love; like you would your kids.
This example is not actually specific to the topic, but it definately is another reason along with all the other reasons above. Except romans latin reason……….Sorry roman, that’s a pile of you know what and you know it.
Peace to all

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Dana MacKenzie

posted September 22, 2010 at 11:42 am

I think the “turning it around” is a process that has already begun, but the Titanic cannot be turned around quickly. 40 years of bad catechetics and pervasive negative media will not be undone in the blink of an eye. The Holy Spirit is still in control and is sending excellent young men into the seminaries (and excellent young women into the convents) to help reshape and reeducate. We have a good pope. We have a lazy laity. But the matter is not hopeless. I for one think the church will see a resurgence when the deconstruction minded boomers finally die or release their hold on positions of power within parishes.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Very thoughtful stuff here…thank you all!
It seems that the traditionally Catholic areas of the country are the ones suffering the most, where the newer frontiers have great vitality.
Familiarity does seem to breed contempt.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm

When the young people in your church no longer have to wonder if their Bishop or Archbishop covered up for pedophiles in the past, you may begin to see them return to your pews. But as long as the Church refuses to hold accountable those men who knowingly and willingly enabled and protected pedophiles in the various parishes under their control, expect this trend to continue.
The church is doing pretty well in dealing with pedophiles. Now take the next step and hold their enablers accountable.

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Dcn. Dan

posted September 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Raising 5 boys and 3 girls certainly had its challenges! As they were growing up I would look for something that would fire them up in their faith. They were nurtured at home in the faith. But what about peer pressure, trying to make them worldly? Yep, it was there. My wife and I felt that they needed a good youth group. One that had a gifted leader. Our home parish did not provide that, so we drove them to the best places we could find. It made a world of difference. Now, what about after high school? I feel stongly about this, there are almost no places to go to hang out with like minded young adults. So, where do they go…bars. There is a local young adult group that has been meeting for years and many weddings have come out of it. Their meeting is a platform for learning more about the Catholic faith. The result? They are at Mass every weekend! One of my daughters moved out of state to attend a Catholic University a few years ago. There was nothing but bars to find those of her age. So, she contacted all the local parishes and talked to their Youth Ministers and formed a Young Adult Group. It has been her source of friends for a few years now. She ended up getting employed by the Diocese she went to school in.
Dr. James Dobson did a study several years ago and found out that we are living in a time when our children value what is said by their friends more than their parents. Peer pressure is great when used wisely.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Young people hunger for authenticity. They know when they’re being patronized or pandered to. They won’t accept liturgy reinvented as entertainment, because they know where better entertainment’s to be found.
Young people won’t take seriously a Church who refuses to take herself seriously.
The traditional Latin Mass is the real Youth Mass.

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Deacon Necessary

posted September 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I agree with Dana. The Holy Spirit is still in charge and there is a “turning around” happening now.
The pews will fill again in time. History shows us that there are periods when church attendance drops and it rebounds. It’s always cyclical.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Don’t call the Liturgy that we grew up with wrong or trite. To us Marty Haugen, David Haas, Steve Angrisano, and the St. Louis Jesuits are the soundtrack of our spiritual journey.
Ben, practically every American Catholic under the age of 60 can say the same thing. My generation, the first to be exposed to this slop, was spiritually deformed to the point where it found itself all but incapable of managing your generation’s spiritual formation. It’s no surprise that increasing numbers of young Catholics opt out of sacramental participation in the Faith. It’s a mighty strange person who’ll live a crucified life in response to a Care Bears liturgy.

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RP Burke

posted September 22, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Just four words form the complete prescription for the problem.
Better music. Better preaching.
When I say “better music,” I don’t mean an immediate switch to all chant and attainting, say, David Haas. Instead, the quality of what the people are expected to sing and hear — as music — has been ignored since the apparent decision of the US bishops to let the marketplace rule. If you want to see how music can form and unify a spiritual community, provided that it’s good music, find the movie “100 Voices” about the group of Jewish cantors and their visit to Poland last year.
When I say “better preaching,” I don’t mean catechetical sessions or policy lectures from the pulpit. Instead, homilies should be something for us lay folks to take out into the world, and should help form us rather than inform us. The world should be able to see us as Catholics without needing to see rosary beads dangling from our pockets or crucifixes around our necks. They should know us by seeing how we act.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I absolutely agree with Romulus’ point. For my part, I recently left the Cincinnati diocesan Roman Catholic Church and joined SSPX primarily because the mainstream Catholic Church has become too stagnant and superficial. Since going to SSPX and SSPV churches, I’ve noticed that there are many other young Catholics who attend the Traditional Latin Mass within the Greater Cincinnati area.
The Roman Catholic Faith should never modernize to fit the times.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Our church is filled to capacity every Sunday. It tops out around 280 to 300 people. In fact, God willing, we are currently looking to buy a larger facility that will house 500 to 1000 members,
However our church is Pentecostal and not Catholic. I was raised Catholic and certainly can understand why attendance is dwindling for the Catholic Church. Janet stated above there is not a sense of awe and wonder towards God when one attends Mass. The youth at my church are on fire specifically because they know we serve a living God!! One who loves and cares for them and is active in there daily lives, not just on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evening Bible studies.
This is why my church and many others in the area (and not all are Pentecostal) are expanding while Catholic churches are closing their doors.
God is alive!! Jesus overcame death, hell and the grave. He is not on the cross anymore!! He lives and if you have an active and loving relationship with Him, you will see awe inspiring miracles, signs and wonders!! Where there is the Lord there is freedom and liberty. Freedom to worship, dance sing!
Once the Catholic Church allows this freedom, and shows God to be an awesome God….the pews will fill back up!
God Bless all of you!

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Michael #2

posted September 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Are you implying the RCC does not allow freedom to worship, dance, and sing? I find that very ironic, considering that:
a. The mass is chock full of music.
b. We are certainly worshiping at the mass, and the RCC encourages Bible study, youth group, praise and worship, etc.
c. As Catholics, we are permitted to dance (unlike many other denominations that I know).
To further the irony, not only do we as RCC believe that we serve the living God, we partake of his flesh and blood as a sign of the new covenant that He made with his people.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm

said the Rev. Geoff Drew, pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe church in Liberty Township. “Mass is not optional. It’s an obligation.”
Therein lies the problem. Going to church on Sunday should not be an ‘obligation’, but something people do because they see a value in it. Every once in a while, I do not attend Church on Sunday – last time I went to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest acted as if I had killed someone (by missing Mass)! Now, the Church could use technology to have its people be financially supportive – by using automatic weekly deductions from once bank account … the result would be that they would increase, regular contributions (because people are less likely to set up an account for just a few dollars a week (like many drop a few dollar bills in the collection basket). Another way would be for the Church to recognize that as long as people attend at least one Mass a week – it would suffice for the ‘Sunday obligation’. I would also recommend that the Sunday sermons what the Church teaches – on differnt matters from Abortion, to sex outside of marriage, to prayer life, being charitable to others, its attempt to connect with non-Catholics, the necessity of the Magisterum of the Church and its importance, etc… – and connected to the readings (if possible).

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posted September 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

As Catholics, we are permitted to dance
As long as we’re not at Mass, Michael #2. We don’t leave our feelings outside when we go to church, but neither do we reduce liturgy to an emotional experience.
Going to church on Sunday should not be an ‘obligation’, but something people do because they see a value in it.
Bob, the Church prescribes the Sunday obligation because it’s good for us and acts as a minimal sign that we’re living an authentically Catholic life. If this can be reduced to subjective judgment, so can anything else, including love of God and of neighbor. If your confessor acted as if you’d killed someone by skipping Mass, he was right: you killed yourself. Give thanks to God for the mercy of reconciliation, which is not a technical procedure but a restoration of God’s grace into your formerly good-as-dead soul.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm

My parish church, which does not have a Tridentine Mass and would be considered “progressive” by many is packing them in. We have nine Masses on Sunday and are full of young people. Our church seats over a thousand and we have to set up folding chairs for the noon Mass.
I agree that young people want the real thing. The 40 minute mumbled Low Mass of the pre-councilar days would be tough sell. Our principal Masses are about an hour and half. Our two young adult groups are self-directed (unheard of in the clericalist per-counciliar period) and vibrant. The parish is bursting with lay initiatives.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

It isn’t just the Catholic church it is all the churches with the exception of the “Mega” groups and t.v. land. It is the result of a lot of “instant gratification” imaging. It started in the 60’s; it’s not new and it’s not news; it is just that churches are just now having an “epiphany” of sorts. It is also the result of a lack of
“personal interaction” between clergy and congregation. The younger (under 50 group) view their pastorial leaders more as “9 to 5ers” with
little interest in their real life problems. What is interesting here is the rise in “riggedly structured religious” attendence. Is it possible that between the lack of “instant gratification” and the lack of “a structured home life” and a true sense of family, that we have a result opposite of what we aspire to be?

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted September 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Re: Sunday mass obligation. What it “should” be is one thing. What it is … is something else.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”117 “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”118
2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
Dcn. G.

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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted September 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm

The Bible somewhere asks: “Who will follow an uncertain trumpet?” The implied answer is “Noone!”
That has been an even bigger problem than trite, entertainment oriented liturgies.
There is ONLY ONE Saviour–Jesus Christ. But when the pope says that he gets publicly flogged by even prominent Catholics especially those evangelizing the concept of “diversity” as the highest cause OR university types that think they are infallible by virtue of their prestigious degrees.
There is ONLY ONE Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church founded on The Rock of St. Peter. Our Catholic Faith is NOT just one of many equal paths to God, but the only TRUE path that Christ Himself wants all to follow.
If we don’t say Truths like these often enough and with conviction, why should anyone feel drawn to a “Great Maybe!”

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posted September 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm

The emptying pews are not only a phenomenon in the Catholic Church. In our parish we have 1200 people at 5 weekend masses. The Episcopal church down the road has a total congregation of 45 people.
Maybe the secularization of our society has something to do with it.

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posted September 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Read Stephen Baskerville and accept his truth, especially if you disagree.
Shut down the American Tribunal System.
Place much more emphasis on faithful Catholic marriages.
Place much less emphasis on abortion, while sticking firmly to what
the Church teaches about it.
Deal with charges of impropriety against marriages by the Tribunal System,
with expediency, listening especially attentively to annulment respondents
who know many, many corrupt priests and canon lawyers, ….etc.
Issue Formal Excommunications for those who abandon marriages without
substantial, formal justification. Excommunicate all, including clergy, who
support those who have maliciously abandoned their marriages.
Good place to start.
And stop contributing money to the Church until it acts upon these!

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posted September 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm

The Catholic Church is fear based and has no real positive leadership to explain why the Church’s policies make sense. The Hierarchy is in disarray and the clergy desperately need an effective leader that can communicate to the masses through the existing media sources. There is no credible leadership that can communicate to the average person in a secular country and world. They are a self perpetuating bueraucracy in Rome and need a major shakeup.They are lostin the past and are unable to cope with the current world.It looks like they are all trying to protect their jobs and not doing their jobs.They need to find that one person who can manage the administration of the Church by today’s standards and laws and clearly, simply tell the story of Catholicism so that everyone can understand it.Make everyone want to attend Mass on Sunday morning.

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Michael #2

posted September 22, 2010 at 8:53 pm

I should have been clearer. I was not referring to dancing during Mass. If anything, I was thinking of my wedding reception. Serving champagne and dancing at my wedding was a small controversy with some of the more “fundamental” members of my wife’s family.

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Michael #2

posted September 22, 2010 at 8:59 pm

The Catholic Church is fear based and has no real positive leadership to explain why the Church’s policies make sense.
What a funny thing to say. I never thought that the teaching of ‘forgiveness of sins’ and ‘doing unto others as you would have done to yourself’ as being particularly scary concepts.
The Hierarchy is in disarray and the clergy desperately need an effective leader that can communicate to the masses through the existing media sources. There is no credible leadership that can communicate to the average person in a secular country and world.
As evident how? Methinks this is another bizarre opinion on your part. The Pope did a pretty good job representin’ in the UK. I mean, are you comparing us to the Southern Baptist Convention? Some Synod? Seriously…
“They are lostin the past and are unable to cope with the current world.It looks like they are all trying to protect their jobs and not doing their jobs.”
Protect their jobs from who? Illegal immigrants? Funnies aside, this sounds like a rather uninformed personal opinion. Can you point to some research or articles, at the very least, to back this up?

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posted September 23, 2010 at 12:03 am

because obviously, the first way to get more people to come to church is to threaten them with excommunication.
I attend 2 churches regularly and both are almost always full. One is more traditional, the other is more mission oriented. Both have very good priests. There is a marked lack of young adults in both. The Catholic Church drops the ball after kids graduate from high school. There is RE through 6th grade with Youth Group Picking up the kids after that at one and the other has RE through Confirmation. There is NO programming after that for young people. MOMS group, bible study for everyone, young people don’t always want to hang with people their parents age…..other denominations program better for young adults.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 12:18 am

I don’t attend church on Sunday, but have a mininstry in my life to help people and be loving to others and myself. The notion that I should feel some obligation to align myself with a corrupt institution like the Catholic Church (and attend Mass) in order to be saved or achieve something spiritual — I can only laugh. I have the read the Bible and attended church as a child — the Bible is a radical document calling for poverty and love; church is about micro-managing morals and reciting mindless phrases about how great God is. The wonder of God is all around us and the needs of the world are enormous. Debating church attendance is like discussing pool deck furniture while the pool is full of drowning people.

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Sick of it

posted September 23, 2010 at 12:24 am

So… who wants to sit in Church and listen to how bad
“we” are and how “we” sinners are going to HELL from
a group that still supports and hides among it’s ranks
a large population of child rapists.
I think I will spend my money elsewhere and not enable
this with my money anymore. Heck, I can sit at home
and listen to TV evangeleists (crooks for the most part)
and not even leave the house except to restock my supply
of beverages for the big game. Least the TV ministers
are up front about being crooks.
This Pope has done very little if anything to root out
the pervs in “HIS” business he calls a church.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 2:22 am

I think perhaps the term church has been corrupted. I have studied the bible much and I see the definition of church as simply the collection of believers. Furthermore I know nothing in scripture that teaches Catholicism. Christians are supposed to be Christians. To me this means that I have accepted Christ as my savior and hold to his beliefs. It does not mean I am perfect. This brings me to my point regarding attendance. Typically, people will say they go to church. Well, that is not a valid statement. If we are Christians, we belong to the church, which is the body of believers. It is not a place. And unfortunately, “going to church” can do more harm than good. From my own experience, when I have gone to church because I love Christ and wanted to go, I have been discouraged by misleading preaching, pushy and insincere self righteous bashing about how often I should be there etc. People seem (not all of course!)to go for show. They look nice in their fancy clothes and put on an image of “I am so good” I am not speaking about everyone, I have met wonderful christian people. I am just trying to say why I don’t care so much about church attendance right now, even though I take my belief in Christ seriously. Here is an example that has discouraged me: After years of guidance and honest study of the Bible with my children, both decided (at different times) to be baptized into Christ. It was totally their decision and we have always focused on truth as opposed to ignorant belief. Anyway, I had the honor of being the immerser of both of my chidren, and the good people at the church (I mean the building where we met) we attended regularly allowed us the use of the baptismal there. After my son had accepted Christ, which for him was well thought out in advance, the church leadership asked for us all to meet. No problem, we have always held these people in high regard and still do, but here is where the bashing began. “Your going to be here every time we have a meeting regardless, no excuses” “Fill out these papers” “Study these scriptures”…on and on. Well, a life had already been saved and was on the right path. My son’s excitement had faded that day, although not his faith, thankfully.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 6:18 am

Y’all ought to come to Texas where God’s Roman Catholic Church is flourishing. At my home parish, if you don’t get there early, you don’t get a seat. Texas really is God’s Country!

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posted September 23, 2010 at 8:37 am

“O, how great is the priest! … If he realized what he is, he would die. […] God obeys him: He utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host.”
__St. John Vianny
For everyone who “gave their case” against the Holy Mass, especially the “Bible Christians”, it might be helpful if you knew some facts:
1. The Bible CAME FROM the Catholic Church, originally used (before “the bible” as the “mass book.”) Even Luther gives credit to the CC for the Bible.
2. There are over 90 Biblical references in a Catholic Mass. In fact, most of the book of Revelation (very much misunderstood) by non-Catholics, is for the most part, simply “the mass in heaven.”
3. The world simply could not be sustained without the Catholic Mass, as it’s “Calvary continued” (in an unbloody manner, where “WE” are the “living sacrifices.”). Jeuus will be “on the cross” until the end of the world, allowing each of us, outside of time, Calvary.
I often wonder how many of the nay sayers would be “awed” if they really knew what we teach is true? For any with an open mind, really in search of truth, here are some great references. Scott Hahn’s (A Protestant convert, now a prolific Catholic writer and scholar) “The Lambs Supper”, is an easy read that for most, will change the way they look at the mass forever.
The rest are Catholic Answers tracts, refuting for the most part, all of the “Bible Christian” arguments.
The reality is, the Catholic Mass is heaven on earth. If we don’t like the mass here, I doubt we will like heaven, which by the way, is “Very Catholic.”
I offer this information for the sake of the extraordinary gift most of us have no idea is availabe to us 24/7, worldwide, to take, leave, or “pass on.”
God Bless

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posted September 23, 2010 at 10:06 am

As someone who went through CCD in the ’70s and early ’80s, I can tell you there was very little catechism taught. It was mostly “Jesus loves you,” and that’s it. I did not go to Catholic school. My parents instilled in me and my brothers and sisters an awareness of our obligations as Roman Catholics.
My kids attend CCD and I am a CCD teacher(kids to to public schools.) Both Catholic churches in my town have NO religious education after confirmation. One parish priest told my 13 year old son, who wanted to be a lector, that he was too young and that Mass was for adults and some people would be offended by a youngster reading at Mass. As a parent, I am trying to do my part, but a little help and encouragement from the professionals would be appreciated!

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posted September 23, 2010 at 10:21 am

KLAIRE , THH BIBLE came from the CC ? i think you have been sniffing too much of the incense !! SAINT this & that ? ALL believers, those who are followers of JESUS CHRIST are called saints !!

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posted September 23, 2010 at 10:29 am

Just like JT from Texas…if you want to know where the Catholics from Ohio are going, come to South Carolina…we are the fastest growing religious group in the state. Just like JT said…if you don’t get to church early, you’re standing for the Mass.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 10:32 am

Jim, as you thump your Bible, maybe you could tell us where it came from? Perhaps you could read its history. Without the Catholic Church, you wouldn’t haveone to thump.

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posted September 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I have the read the Bible
Read this yet, Frank?
2 Peter 1:20 “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.”

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posted September 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm

It was mostly “Jesus loves you,”
And, along with loving Him back, that is 99% of the Catholic faith.

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Art ND'76

posted September 23, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Regarding Klaire’s statements about truth and Fr. Corapi’s comments about giving him a year at a parish: Right on!
If only the priest celebrating the Mass we are required to attend had absorbed something from the Office of Readings he is vowed to read daily. If only He would speak what the Holy Spirit directs from the Church’s treasury of truth. If priestly pedophilia is a visible problem, the same lack of fidelity in priests that pedophilia springs from has the effect of emptying the pews. Even if pedophilia is not present, a lack of fidelity is still a potent poison to authentic parish life.
I don’t refer here to the choice of English versus Latin, nor necessarily the style of music. Those are indeed easily observed surface differences, but they are just that: differences on the surface. They may or may not indicate the more important spiritual realities going on beneath that surface. If the laity and clergy participating in a Mass have the correct spiritual approach, then they will naturally be diligent about having a licit liturgy in submission to the teaching of the magisterium. However, the converse is not necessarily true: having all of the externals correct does not magically yield the correct spiritual approach. Jesus had the harshest words for those scribes and pharisees who were technically perfect externally, but rotten on the inside.
What will fill the pews is having the word spoken from the pulpits be like that commanded by God in Ezekiel 37. That is the only thing special about Fr. Corapi’s preaching.

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posted September 24, 2010 at 9:41 am

DEACON JOHNM.B., With all due respect : PETER ( small stone ) . the ” solid ” rock is PETER’S confession that ” JESUS was the CHRIST , the SON OF THE LIVING GOD ” JESUS CHRIST is the HEAD of the of the church. ( EPH 5:23 , COL 1:18 ).
Nothing in the BIBLE speaks of an ” earthly ‘ surrogate who heads the church in CHRIST’S place.
Every ”CHRISTIAN ” is a stone , PETER and the apostles were foundation ” stones ” .
JESUS CHRIST, not PETER , is the ” chief ” cornerstone. SELAH !!

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posted September 24, 2010 at 10:35 am

Nice try Jim, but there is plenty in the Bible that speaks of “earthy surrogates for Christ”, starting with the Patriachs of the Old Testament, the earliest being Abraham.
Again, the “Bible” is a product of the Catholic Church, which didn’t even exist until the 400’s, and only went into mass production after the printing press in the 1500’s. To ignore that fact one would also have to ignore the early Church Fathers, the apostles, Sacred Tradition, as well as the first Christians.
I suspect you are a “sola scriptura” guy, which is a major problem for many reasons, one of them being that you miss the Old Testament, which contains the typology (“concealed in the old, revealed in the new)of the New Testament.
FYI, Catholics don’t interpret their own scripture, at least to the extent it’s incompatible with Sacred Tradition, the Catechism, and the Magesterium of the Church.
Also, I believe you are confusing Greek with Aramaic, which is what Jesus spoke.
Here are the facts if you want them:

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posted September 27, 2010 at 3:59 am

I agree that the Holy Spirit is turning things around, and that it will take some time to make the turn, but I don’t agree with the sentiment that the turn around is a sure thing. Yes, some things go in cycles, but the Church in north Africa, once thriving from the second to fifth centuries, is practically non-existent now. The same is true for most formerly Catholic countries of Europe. There’s no guarantee that the Church in the U. S. will escape the same fate. We need to resist the temptation that things will turn around without our working at it. St. Thomas More charged us to be ever ready to work for what we pray. We have our part in turning this ship around.
Having said that, allow me to join my own voice with those who say that the first thing to do is make a personal commitment to live a holy life. This is the first and best means of evangelizing. Whether we’re witnessing to non-Catholics or fellow Catholics, the attraction of a holy life is hard to resist.
Second, those of us who are parents must take seriously our responsibility as the first educators of our children, especially in matters of the faith. It matters little if the liturgy and the preaching at your parish is the stuff of angels, if the parents don’t live the faith at home during the week, there is little chance the children will. Children can’t inherit from their parents what the parents don’t have to pass on. This is particularly true for fathers. The most important factor in predicting whether or not a child who goes to church will continue to go to church as an adult is: did his or her father go to church?
Finally, as St. Paul charged St. Timothy, we should all regard it as our responsibility to “protect the rich deposit of faith” given to us. This does not mean turning ourselves into self-appointed liturgical or doctrinal watchdogs. It does mean knowing the faith and participating in the life of the parish in such a way that the voice of truth and orthodoxy is heard, firmly and gently and always respectfully. There have been several times I’ve pointed out problems either liturgically or in other areas (ie: Fr. Joe, why do we have for sale in our vestibule a book by a guy who teaches that Jesus isn’t divine?) I’ve never received a hostile reply, and nine times out of ten the pastor has acted on my concerns. Are you concerned that the children are receiving poor catechesis? Fine. Sign up to teach. Are you concerned not enough is being done to reach out to the poor? Great. Start a soup kitchen. Want Eucharistic devotion in your parish? Super. Start talking it up and convince your pastor there’s real interest among the people and get it going.
Do you see the pattern? First, work to make yourself holy. Second, work to make your home holy. Third, work to make your parish holy. The holiness of a vibrant faith community will attract people.

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posted October 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Most Catholic Churches fail to preach the gospel. What other message could be more important. If my church stopped preaching the gospel I would stop going too.

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posted October 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I will give a big AMEN to your statement ! JESUS told the great Jewish teacher NICODEMUS that he had to be ” BORN AGAIN ‘ born from above . JESUS was offering him a ” new life ” . NOT a life being a slave to RULES // MAN-MADE TRADITONS // ETC. Salvation in CHRIST ALONE !! NO WORKS !! Baptised as an infant does not save !! JESUS SAID : REPENT and BE BAPTIZED ! Baptism by immersion is an outward expression of an inward relation with Jesus Chist !!

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posted October 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Please read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There is not one thing in there that is bad for your soul. Sin IS the cause of all unhappiness.

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posted October 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm

The Church is sinking its own boat by pandering to homosexuals, ultra liberals, and other ilk.
If the Church maintains high standards for its clergy, it, like the Marines, will have people waiting in line to accept the challenge and the calling. Same for lay people.
Instead, the Church has tried to “accommodate” those to whom it should minister and witness- how about sticking to ministering and witness? It isn’t always what people want to hear and see, but for their own sakes, we are CALLED to do just that!
The Church is the Body of Christ; it has no need to apologize for this basic fact. While the Church MUST reach out to sinners- ALL of us – to accept sinfulness as OK is damaging. To sell out to a watering down of what it is to please Protestants and other non-Catholics is likewise damaging.

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