Tuesday, December 9, 2014

THE 88% OF CATHOLICS WHO DON'T ATTEND MASS ANY MORE: WILL THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM BRING THEM BACK?

Okay, maybe in the Bible Belt, the percentage of Catholics attending Mass is higher than the liberal, post-Catholic northeast where in New York it is about 12% (88% don't attend). In the south it might be upwards to 25% attending or 75% who don't attend.

So if every Catholic parish in the USA went exclusively to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass after a year of catechesis,  what would happen with the 12% who attend in New York and the 25% who attend in Macon?

Keep in mind, no matter how low Mass attendance is, those who do attend must love what they are attending even if it is a contemporary Mass, which is casual, sloppy and folksy.  If in any given diocese where the 12% who attend Mass like the casual atmosphere, the contemporary music and the praise and worship atmosphere of liturgy and architecture, what happens to that 12%, does it dwindle down more when the EF is the only Mass allowed?

Granted, we don't have the full picture why 88% of Catholics don't attend Mass. I think it basically is a loss of faith. But when they do go to a Mass that is banal, horizontal and sloppy, is it attractive? Is there reverence and any sense that those attending the Mass believe in our omnipotent God who will return to the judge the living and the dead? Do Catholics who attend Mass sometimes think that the way it is celebrated makes a joke of the Faith and thus do not and would not take it seriously?

I know for those who attend our EF Mass on occasion, who  like the reverence and feel of the Mass. I think converts of yesteryear appreciated the same thing and that Catholics really seem to believe what was happening at Mass by their own personal piety and reverence and the hushed silence of our churches even when Mass was not in progress.  Catholic unity and identity was clearer back in those days even to non-Catholics.

So, what to do, or what are we to do as I wring my hands in not so quiet desperation?

Celebrating the vernacular Mass with EF sensibilities will keep fewer of those already engaged in the Mass from departing and might attract those who think the modern way of celebrating Mass is a joke that produces not faith, reverence or piety and they will take a second look and revert and non Catholics will be moved to convert. Attraction that is the key!

42 comments:

John Nolan said...

No, the damage is already done. The idea that one could make drastic changes in something that was regarded as more or less immutable, and moreover do so in a little over three years, without precipitating a crisis is bizarre.

In 1964 Dom Gregory Murray wrote to the 'Tablet' to the effect that it was irrelevant that people didn't want the Mass to be changed - it was being done for their own good. Faced with such arrogant clericalism, it is hardly surprising that large swathes of people voted with their feet.

Deacon Jones said...

If every parish in America became exclusively EF (which is what they were until 1969 when the great "renewal" began) what would happen?

Many, maybe the majority of them, would close down.

BUT NOT EVERY PARISH WOULD CLOSE…OH NO!

You would soon have parishes that were almost entirely composed of Catholics who believed and practiced what the Church actually taught.

The National Catholic Reporter would advocate going ti the schismatic Novus Ordo breakaway church that would surely come into being, and their influence would be a joke.

From that point on, the vast majority of Catholics would know what their Church teaches with great clarity.

Priests would have to set aside more time for hearing Confessions.

Catholic families would once again be recognizable because of their size.

Many minorities would probably exit and join evangelical Churches, since the Church would no longer serve as a platform for supporting leftist political causes. Minorities would suddenly be a real minority in the Church.

There would be a parade of geezer priests and nuns on talk shows complaining about the intolerance of the Extraordinary Form parishes and suggesting that the EF is anti-semitic.

You would be able to pray at Mass.

Many young people would be amazed at what had been kept from them for so long, as would many middle-aged people.

A few dioceses would probably merge.

Bishops would suddenly realize that they couldn't keep pandering to the lowest common denominator and that the laity who actually feed the collection plate expect them to act like Catholic bishops.

The Church would start to grow. It would be a very slow-growth model, but it would be growth with integrity. In the early Church, people did not join because of various attractions to bring them in. They joined because they were convinced of the Church's Truth and they knew there was a good chance that they would lose everything, even their lives, if they joined. The pandering would stop.

Catholics would be distinguishable from the rest of the population by their behavior.

Instead of complaining how boring the Mass is, younger Catholics would actually KNOW what is going on at Mass and be able to explain it to their friends.

Protestants would start converting at a higher rate because they would recognize a Church that was worth converting TO, instead of just another protestant church with a Eucharist.

Anyone else have something to add to this list?

Joe Potillor said...

Deacon Jones, seems to be dead on as to what would happen.

Anonymous said...

I'm just guessing....that Deacon Jones might be in Colorado....legal pot....

Juden said...

Who thinks that 88% of Catholics are going to hell? I don't.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Well then why should I be Catholic????? I 'll join the 88%!!!!

Gene said...

I think Deacon Jones is absolutely right.

Joseph Johnson said...

Father,
Surely, you didn't really mean to say that, of those who still attend Mass regularly (the 12% in the northeast or the 25% in Macon), that they all LOVE what they attend no matter how contemporary or casual it is celebrated. I know I certainly don't love attending that kind of Mass!
Yes, if it's the only one in town (as it is here in Waycross, Georgia where I live) I'll go to satisfy my obligation but my attendance certainly does not mean that I like the style of the Mass being celebrated! Sometimes it can be a real trial of patience, endurance and straining to focus on why I'm really there while shutting out distractingly bad externals (like loud, boisterous and irreverent music at a bilingual English/Spanish Mass).

If I lived in Savannah, I would probably (90% or more of the time) attend the 1:00 p.m. EF Mass at the Cathedral. If I lived in Macon, I would attend the 12:10 ad orientem OF Mass and the EF on the Sundays it is offered. Unfortunately, where I live, I don't get those kinds of choices unless I'm travelling or make a special trip just for the purpose. When I get to do that THEN I LOVE what I'm attending!

John said...

Deacon Jones nailed it.

There are sincere people I know who would never attend an EF Mass, are soft on issues such as contraception, rarely if ever go to confession, and think the Church should allow divorced-remarried communion etc. I know this is not new or rare thinking among people who think of themselves as good and reasonable Catholics. The Holy Father but certainly Cardinal Kasper support such thinking and behaviors and millions of others others feel the same way as well.

One could cite many other examples of behaviors by lay people and clerics, by whole religious orders who quite openly defy Catholic teachings in thought, word and deed ( Mea culpa...).

When one reflects on the state of the Church in this way its is not hard to conclude that the horse left the barn and closing the door with a spiffied up OF Mass cant fix the problem.

So, what will happen in the next 5-10 years? I honestly do not know. Some individual dioceses and some parishes (Fr. M'?) may struggle on and stay alive. However, if the present trend in the breakdown in the hierarchy continues post October 2015, the collapse could come quickly. Break up of the sacramental discipline at a synod may be quickly followed by a revolt on the left a la the rebellion following V 2 council.

Orthodox Catholics will have very few alternatives left. But as D.H. Lawrence once said: "Every breakdown is a break through." If my fears come true, finally, we will be able with a clear conscience go our separate way.

Paul said...

Catholic Exceptionalism.

As long as Christ's Church is portrayed as: "almost the same", "nothing different", "we all believe in the same Jesus", like Fr. and Deacon have implied, why join?

If the Truth is given the appearance of being fuzzy and uncertain, and alterations subject to societal whims and popular opinion, then what is Truth? That's what Pilate asked. What makes Christ's Church so special?

When we are in a society that espouses that one can be *anything* if they try hard enough and put that together with moral relativism and changing Truth, we are creating little, activist-driven, morally dead gods.

How to get them back? Humility and a firm grasp of THE TRUTH. They need to experience that moral relativism is false, they must endure failure and folly to be open to God and realize that they are not gods. When/if that happens during the person's lifetime, Christ Church must be ready and stand firm because everything that person has known has just been swept away.

Juden said...

So...Father...you really mean that the only reason you're a Catholic (not among the 88%) is to keep from going to hell?

Now might be a good time to "clarify" your 4:56 post.

Deacon Jones said...

I live in the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia. And I do not smoke tobacco or marijuana.

Bee said...

I believe the problem lies in prosperity. When mankind believes that abundant material goods and creature comforts brings fulfillment, they have no need for God. Unless a person has the insight that material goods and earthly comforts don't resolve the ultimate problems in life (like the heartache caused by sin) they live a superficial life thinking happiness is just around the corner at the next party or in the next new house or when they get the diamond necklace or attain acceptance into the country club.

When people think joy can be had from the material world they couldn't care less about God. They have changed their goal. They no longer have need of God. They have what they want. Furthermore religion imposes restrictions on them that seem to thwart them getting what they want, not aiding it.

So in our prosperous country, in many prosperous countries, no form of Mass, no liturgical reforms, no catchy music is going to bring back people who have made the choice for worldly pleasure. If they have stopped believing in sin, what need have they of a Savior? Religion then is just a boring ritual without purpose or meaning.

If, God forbid, a war broke out on our shores, and people were very afraid, I'm sure you'd see the churches packed, regardless of whether you were doing an OF or EF Mass, or the liturgy was sloppy or not.

Father, please don't think there is something on the worldly plane you can "do" about falling attendance. I said it before, the only thing you can do is pray. And I mean become a holy, prayerful man, and lead a congregation into holiness (ala the Cure of Ars) via your parish (like having weekly novenas to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, even if only three people attend, or even if you are the only one praying in church). Only God Himself can solve this problem. And only by way of the faithful remnant of prayerful people will He do so.

Father, if you as a priest don't believe enough in God to realize it is He who gives these graces of faith, and don't believe enough to turn to Him when you see such lack of faith, why do you think anyone else should have such faith?

Anonymous said...

I was joking about the pot, Deacon Jones. I forgot to say LOL. Sorry....

Anonymous said...

God bless you too, Gene. Have a happy and holy Christmas.

Juden said...

Father, do you need a translation of Gene's 9:05 PM post? I think he wants you to call him on it so he can go to his room and pout. He knows lots of initials, like all of the teenagers use so their parents won't know they're saying bad words.

Gene said...

I did it because Juden and Anonymous are so enamored of initials. I hate cyber speak. But, it is sometimes appropriate.

Anthony said...

I agree with Deacon Jones 100%.If the church becomes even more liberal after 2015,my guess is Conservative's will have no choice but to either leave or join a parish like mine.(sedevacantist)I do know for a fact many men between 18-40 are looking for somewhere to belong.Many men in this age group feel left out of our education system,media,political system,society in general.Catholic parishes of all persuasions would do well to become more conservative and reach out to this demographic.We are looking for somewhere to belong.Lastly,fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom.Dont knock ppl who are catholic because they fear Hell!

Anthony said...

One last thing,I also think the pre-june 1968 rite of holy orders should be reinstated.The body of Christ should be received on the tongue while kneeling on a communion rail.Growing up in the Novus ordo,not ever seeing respect or reverence is 50% the reason I now attend a sedevacantist church using the 1946 missal.If the current church crisis is to end,these issues have to be implemented.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Anthony, since I am a traditional and conservative Catholic, for me to hear you encourage people to schism and excommunication which if they die in before it is lifted they quite well will go to hell, I simply can't believe you are doing this, which in addition to your own mortal soul and the loss of it you are encouraging others to join you.

I hope you were taught somewhere along the way that mortal sin is:

1. serious matter (schism being extremely so as well as the resultant excommunication)

2. You know it is wrong because the Church teaches it to be so, not just a pious thing on the person's part

3. You consent to sin with full consent of the will.

I will start deleting your comments if you continue to lead those who read this blog into excommunication and the fires of hell.

Gene said...

Will the real Catholic Church please stand up...

Anthony said...

I am sorry if I offended you,it wasn't my intention.I was simply giving my opinion in response to your article.Honestly,it is just what I think.I won't post anymore as it is causing you stress and grief.The last thing I want to do is cause more tension as it the last thing any of us need in today's world.Pax domini sit semper vobiscum.

JusadBellum said...

Studies show (as does experience) that people will support a parish or organization if:

1) They are intrigued, excited, and hopeful about the mission

2) They totally trust the people leading the organization towards the fulfillment of this mission

3) They trust that their time, talent, and treasure will be respected and properly used and not either taken for granted or wasted.

In the Church today, to the degree the mission is unclear or vague, there's no clear trumpet call, no clear challenge that is actionable (being 'nice' or being 'for' justice or peace is way too vague). Making disciples of all the nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all Jesus' commands...that's SPECIFIC.

The other factor is the faith of our leaders... people can tell if you are not sincere, if you have no fire or passion for the mission or purpose but instead have petty passions for petty hobbies. Few people are going to follow a petty leader obsessing about a low impact, 'easy' mission.

The Catholic Church makes some incredible (in the true meaning of the word) truth claims about God, about human history, about metaphysical reality for life and death. To then water down or act as though it doesn't matter so long as we feel good about ourselves and behave 'nice' and vote for someone ELSE to pay taxes so someone ELSE can "help the poor"... is just not going to cut it.

This is why the moral controversies of our time are flash points. Sex and the meaning of life are either/or....either you are faithful or unfaithful. Either you are pure or your are impure. Either a sincere disciple of Jesus or an apostate.

To reduce Catholicism to an ethnicity, a man-made culture, a set of arbitrary rules untethered from eternity and not powered by Divinity... is to make it a club of no great consequence, of no great moral challenge.

To the degree people are exposed to the truth claims of Catholicism they cannot be indifferent...they either buy in or check out. But the last 40 years it seems that despite holy popes, we've had few bishops and clergy (and religious) who seemed to be true believers in the great things while pursuing ever smaller horizons.

People won't follow an uncertain trumpet and they won't sacrifice for trifles.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I did not know what those acronyms are that gene used, but since I am informed that these are not appropriate for my blog, I have deleted the original one.

Mortal sin abounds as does the possibility of eternal damnation in the fires of hell!

JusadBellum said...

Also, for Anthony, I might add that abandoning the Church because one disagrees with a heretical (or just cowardly) prelate or priest is PRECISELY THE WRONG THING TO DO.

Salt or leaven are not the loaf... in but not of the world. If we are true disciples of Jesus then we must stay in the body of Christ as salt and leaven.

If enough of us gather in parishes and volunteer our time, talent, etc. we can change things for the better.

Do you fast and pray for your pastor? He's a man, he has stress, he struggles and doubts and is prone to worry or fear...do we buttress them as fellow men? We must!

I encourage everyone to gather likeminded friends and family in our homes for prayer, bible study, rosary, fellowship...and then also at the parish.

Be the change you want to see.

If your pastor doesn't allow you to use the parish facility for pro-life or devotional meetings...then meet somewhere else but MEET! Reach out, network, recruit, invite people to come "see Jesus" if only in silent adoration of the closed tabernacle.

Join the local Knights and get active... then volunteer to help with whatever the pastor needs.... eventually he'll come to rely on your council and that's when you can start slowly asking for favors - more adoration, a class or two on the early Church fathers, etc.

We have to stop being angry spectators and become active participants, salt, light, leaven in the dough.

Volunteer to teach NFP - there's a huge need for it in the diocese. Volunteer to teach CCD or catechism. Get involved in the teen initiatives... introduce them to adoration, the rosary, the stations of the cross...showcase to them what faithful adult Catholic lay people do and are like. (it's not all pizza parties and picnics).

Never let the apostates take over the Church. Stand up for the body of Christ. Stand up to save those apostate's own souls.

We've got to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Gene said...

"…possibility of eternal damnation in the fires of Hell." Let's see, that would be, POEDITFOH. I don't think provocative acronyms on a blog qualify one for eternal damnation.

Henry said...

Quixotic though it may be, I am fondly reminded of my all-time favorite web post:

I HAD A DREAM
http://www.christianorder.com/features/features_2004/features_feb04.html

"I will be known as Gregory Leo Pius the First."

“The Pope announced that a general ‘cleansing of the Vatican’s Augean stables’ was underway. He had told priests, bishops and Cardinals of the Church that if they were not prepared to renounce the heretical beliefs which had become so much a part of their nature, they must step down and leave the Church. . . . A growing group of young priests steeped in tradition and loyal to the Magisterium was now spread around the world. Should it be necessary they would be made Bishops and Cardinals in record time to replace those who had fallen away.

“All of these young priests, he reminded us, were able and very eager to celebrate Holy Mass in the Tridentine tradition. Then in an announcement which stunned the congregation, the new Pope announced that the ‘prolonged experiment’ of the ‘Novus Ordo’ Mass would be rapidly phased out . . . he had no doubt that the great sacramental gifts of the Tridentine Mass, the ‘Mass for all times’ formulated by St Pius V, would soon once again be embraced universally.

“To bring this into effect he had ordered all bishops and priests everywhere to re-institute the Tridentine Mass on a daily basis in all churches and to make it available on Sundays at times when the majority of the Faithful would have easy access to the ‘Sacrifice of Calvary.’ He noted that some aging priests and prelates might not be able to grasp the necessary skills to say the Latin Mass and that therefore these, after due examination, would be permitted to say the Novus Ordo in private, after the prayer book apportioned to that version of the Mass had been adjusted to correct the errors and omissions imposed over the decades.”

And more, much more that desperately needs to be done. Read it there.

John Nolan said...

Deacon Jones

The 'great renewal' did not begin in 1969. By then the Mass (in most places) was versus populum, Latin and chant had disappeared, and the transition to the Novus Ordo in 1970 made little practical difference. I know, I was there.

Anonymous 2 said...

I think that Bee at 7:14 p.m. yesterday evening is on to something very important. I have suggested before that the basic problem is metaphysical. Modern science and technology and all the material blessings they bring with them, combined with the illusion of potentially complete human power over nature, are enormously distracting. Personally, I do not think that any change in the liturgy will have any more than a marginal effect, if that, unless and until the Church grapples with the basic metaphysical problem.

One can begin by destabilizing “things taken for granted” in normal everyday perception and thus demonstrating epistemological limitations even in our physical world: for example, primary qualities versus secondary qualities, the phenomenon of dark matter and dark energy, and the problem of “time” and relativity and its relation to questions of “eternity” or “timelessness.” After this fundamental Socratic/Platonic move, the shackles become somewhat looser and it may be possible to begin stumbling out of the Cave and attend to the “theology” that Gene would emphasize over metaphysics.

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. Perhaps I should clarify. I do not mean to diminish the reality or the goodness of the material world, just to find persuasive ways to see through it or beyond it.

JusadBellum said...

Sadly, anonymous, the historic record seems to agree with your assessment about metaphysics. Most Catholics 'in name only' will eventually meander out of the faith, failing to pass it on to their children. There will be a 'great apostasy' among these poor souls.

And there will be warfare and poverty -shock therapy. Many innocents will suffer and die.

Far from doom and gloomy dystopian fantasies, this is our history. The glorious Catholic culture of Spain of the 14th century was all but forgotten by the late 18th century. Virtually every national church has lived to see a twilight decline and national collapse in war and bloodshed.

America is overdue.

Gene said...

Jusad, are you saying lock and load?

Juden said...

I asked this before. Nobody answered. I'll try again.

Do you think that 88% of Catholics (those who polls say do not attend Mass) are all going to hell?

Part 2....What percentage of the people on earth do you think are going to hell? About 17% of the people on earth are Catholic (If my math is right, about 1.4 percent of the earth's population are Mass going Catholics. Does that leave 98.6 percent of everybody on earth in hell? Wow.... Christ's dying to save us hasn't worked out real well, has it?

George said...

Anon 2 and Bee
Both of you are onto something (leaving aside the metaphysical question). Only to those who have little or no faith do things appear hopeless however. I say that acknowledging that some who have faith do entertain the possibility ( if not hoped for occurrence) of some apocalyptic scenario- a "mid-course correction" as it were- to bring the world back to a proper relationship to and reverence for God and His teachings. One looks back at the history of two countries so closely identified with the Catholic faith, France and Spain. At times one sees a vibrant Catholicism. At other times one sees great suffering- churches and holy places being desecrated and destroyed and bishops priests and consecrated religious being imprisoned tortured and martyred.The Church from the beginning has persevered and triumphed through times of persecution. Today the Faith is being assailed by technical advancements, secular humanism, liberalism,cultural hedonism, and a seductive prosperity. The Body of Christ today is undergoing a different kind of suffering. Our hope of course is in Christ who instituted His Holy Church. Our hope is in His words that the "gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

Gene said...

Juden, I have no idea..but, when you die you can send word back as to whether 98.6 is the correct number.

Paul said...

At a talk a student heckled Archbishop Sheen: “Was Jonah really in the belly of the whale?”

To which Bishop Sheen replied: “I don’t know, but when I get to heaven I shall ask him.”

“What if Jonah’s not there?” pressed the student.

Archbishop Sheen retorts: “Then you ask him.”

The point being, that any properly Catechized Catholic knows, is that no one on Earth can say with certainty (outside of dogma) who is in Heaven or not and no Earthly poll will answer the question. Final judgement is reserved for God alone as is His condemnation or welcome. Anything else is speculation.

Advice from Mary: "Do whatever He tells you."

Juden said...

Paul...I don't expect anyone to answer with certainty. I am not taking a poll to answer the question. I am merely asking people, many of whom are ready to offer strong and lengthy opinions on many issues, to offer their opinion on the questions I posted. It seems unlikely to me that nobody has an opinion. It seems more likely to me that people are hesitant to offer them publicly. Personally, I believe that few will be in hell, most will be in heaven. It seems unlikely that Christ died to save 1.4 percent.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Only those who know the truth of the Catholic Church and then reject it will full consent of the will have the potential of eternal damnation.

Those in invincible ignorance do not go to hell. Ignorance is bliss or heaven!

Juden said...

Thanks Father. Mister Bojangles himself couldn't have done a better tap dance.

JusadBellum said...

Gene, sadly, I don't think we're in a position whereby our ability to lock and load will help much.

let me explain.

If by act of God or enemy action, the federal government was to cease to function and mere anarchy was unleashed, then an armed but disorganized population like ours stands some chance of ad hoc organizing and stabilizing the situation via a new form of government.

Armed civilians like exist in the US are capable of putting down pretty much anything short of actual government assault.

But the bloody persecutions of other nations almost always happened because the King or ruling government apparatus decided to annihilate the Church. Study up on the rebellion and subsequent genocide of the Catholics in the Vendee region of France. They initially won battles but without a home grown arms and ammunition source, they were eventually cut to pieces by a determined anti-clerical French army.

The Cristero uprising in Mexico might have succeeded but they always lacked a coordinated approach via politics and diplomacy (whereas our US revolution was set up from the start as a triad: Continental Army, Congress, and star-team of diplomats getting financing, arms, gunpowder, materiel, and strategic support from foreign allies).

When the powers that be unleash bloodshed on US Catholics, it will be all but hopeless to stop militarily with civilian level arms. Jusadbellum means not just the righteousness of the cause but the prudence.

So if you would keep that day from happening, work in the light to network and befriend, and make as many disciples today as you can both foreign and domestic.

If and when that day comes, it may not result in a genocide if the powers that be feel the heat of a coalition of foreign powers and a broader coalition of citizens. It may "only" be like Bismarck's "Kulturekampf" and include seizure of property and forced secularization of schools rather than red martyrdom.

But ultimately force of arms is at most a gambit to buy us time to make enough converts to change the socio-political climate. If we can change it without bloodshed, so much the better.

Gene said...

Juden, Christ was not really concerned with numbers. We may consider his very strong warnings to be evidence that he is not the Christological pushover that liberal theology has made him out to be. There will be a judgement and it will fall harshly on many. I rather expect more to be in Hell than in Heaven, but no one really knows. On the other hand, we cannot place limits upon God's mercy, either.

Paul said...

Juden,

Comparing the percentage of attending Catholics to heavenly residents is a waste of time and misleading. No one on Earth can condemn the (supposed) 88% or welcome the 12%. The only answer is "I don't know". Any guess would be an *uneducated and foolish guess* because no one on Earth knows the entirety of any soul (including my own). In their gracious and merciful wisdom, Jesus and Mary have revealed to us some ideas: "camel through the eye of a needle" and "dropping like snowflakes". As far as the camel goes, one can try to decide whether or not oneself is rich. We have been given much.

Assume nothing, don't bet on the useless odds or polls and "Do whatever He tells you".