I guess I am still shocked that Catholics don't practice their faith, up to more than 80% of them. These are shocking statistics. Normally the majority of this 80% or more who don't practice the Catholic faith still come to Mass at Easter and Christmas and usually a goodly number still want the sacraments for their children, although this is diminishing too. Most who cease practicing the Catholic faith do not join other Christian Churches or other religions. Instead they become "nones." They become secularists. And while the current generation of "nones" who are Catholic bring some moral and ethical principles of the Church with them, their children and their children's children won't.
Even more disheartening is the fact that the 20% who do remain, may or may not accept the Church's teachings on a variety of issues all the way from sexuality and marriage to the very clear social teachings of the Church. Some of the most staunch neo-conservative Catholics reject the Church's social teachings vehemently. Of course this is all part and parcel with cafeteria Catholicism, or the Walmart approach to the Church, the consumer taking some things and choosing not to take other things and returning what they did once consume for a refund.
Our culture and society is in for a rough ride, so fasten your seat belts. More and more children of parents who are "nones" are caught up in the violence of the internet games they play and even two 12 year old girls can stab 19 times a 12 year old friend of theirs and not feel any remorse. This is a personality disorder of the highest degree, narcissism of our age. They see sex like going to McDonald's and a part of their relationships, casual and undignified.
As it concerns the Catholic Church and those who have left us, although they might still worship with us, isn't the main problem a tremendous loss of the fear of God and the narcissism that accompanies this?
At one time and not too long ago, and in fact still in my memory, it would have been unheard of for Catholics to public dispute the Church in the areas of faith and morals which all Catholics are bound to obedience.
At one time and not to long ago, and in fact still in my memory, Catholics would have understood the consequences of moral disobedience that became public and was flaunted, mortal sin on steroids, bad example given to others and leading them into sin.
At one time, Catholics kept quiet in Church in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. At one time, Catholics would not have turned even to acknowledge their neighbor during Mass, lest the focus be taken away from Christ in His most splendid sacramental presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. And once Mass began, the focus was on the actions of the Mass. No one got up to go to the bathroom or in any way distract others from prayer and contemplation. (How many people get us each week at some point of the Mass and go to the restroom as though they are in the living room or the movie house?
As a child, I was taught by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Corondelet never even to look backwards, ever, while in Church, to look forward to Christ and focus on Him and Him alone. Good advice! And my parents warned us to go to the bathroom prior to Mass and not eat or drink anything before Mass because no one left the pew until Mass was over for anything, I mean anything!
Not too long ago, I counseled a disgruntled Catholic on the verge of leaving the Church because of his fixation on Catholics don't live up to what it means to be a Catholic. There are so many inconsistancies he noted between pious Catholics at Mass (or not so pious) and how they live their lives the rest of the week.
I reminded him that as Catholics we are not to look at our neighbor and base our participation in the Church and attendance at Mass on what kind of Catholics they are. We are to focus on the Lord and the Lord only and in that way we will never be scandalized.
What has led to this sorry state of affairs when the horizontal experience of Church becomes so emphasized as some sort of Utopian experience of salvation, that when it fails and people disappoint, many leave the Church disillusioned and scandalized? Why is it that Catholics are now consumers of Catholicism and liturgy rather than participants in God's plan for their conversion and salvation?
And the loss of our popular Catholic piety, devotion and reverence for the Holy Eucharist especially before and after Mass but also during Mass contributes to this.
The loss of these contributes to a loss of the Fear of the Lord amongst Catholics:
1. Standing and receiving Holy Communion in the most casual and irreverent way possible
2. Indiscriminate selection and use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who in daily life do not accept the Church's moral teachings and maybe not even dogmatic teachings even concerning the Most Holy Eucharist
3. Mass turned into entertainment and feel good antics to accomodate the tastes of the consumers who approach the Church as some kind of Walmart
4. The momentum of prayer begun with the Entrance Chant and greeting disrupted by banal and secular sentiments of "good morning," "how are you," "I'm glad you are here" and the funny one-liners" and then a return to prayer and contemplation with the penitential act. I see this all the time from bishops to priests who celebrate the Mass. They are totally oblivious to how disruptive this is to the momentum of prayer and contemplation that begins when the Mass begins with the Entrance Chant, not their silly one-liners and banal acclamations.
5. Priests becoming entertainers and welcomers at Mass with their personality and warmth becoming the most important and when this is lacking some Catholics shop around for something they like better
So this brings me to my conclusion:
10 Advantages of [having Mass] Ad Orientem
1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is experienced as having a theocentric direction and focus.DON'T YOU THINK THAT THE TEN THINGS ABOVE WOULD HELP REVERSE THE ABYSMAL STATE OF THE LOSS OF CATHOLIC IDENTITY EVEN AMONGST CATHOLICS WHO STILL COME TO CHURCH?
2. The faithful are spared the tiresome clerocentrism that has so overtaken the celebration of Holy Mass in the past forty years.
3. It has once again become evident that the Canon of the Mass (Prex Eucharistica) is addressed to the Father, by the priest, in the name of all.
4. The sacrificial character of the Mass is wonderfully expressed and affirmed.
5. Almost imperceptibly one discovers the rightness of praying silently at certain moments, of reciting certain parts of the Mass softly, and of cantillating others.
6. It affords the priest celebrant the boon of a holy modesty.
7. I find myself more and more identified with Christ, Eternal High Priest and Hostia perpetua, in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil, before the Face of the Father.
8. During the Canon of the Mass I am graced with a profound recollection.
9. The people have become more reverent in their demeanour.
10. The entire celebration of Holy Mass has gained in reverence, attention, and devotion.