Reforming a Sterile Catholic-Culture: Externals…oh my!

Sometimes things stay the same, while the façade changes. That is, sometimes the culture needs to change Brothers rather than everything else. I’m thinking of the Catholic-Culture especially that has really made the Church a disembodied, abstract vehicle for sentimentalities that most people find else where in the secular world, already. A culture that has produced the fruits of, in some dioceses, as much as 70-86 % of Baptized and Confirmed Catholics who don’t practice their faith, is certainly a culture in need of reform. It is the culture we should not be clinging onto, but rather the change of the Catholic-Culture.

In listening to a lot of the people who don’t attend mass, I’ve often appreciated their own insights into what they want in the Church:

1. I don’t like modern churches, bring back the beautiful traditional ones. (that is putting their own views politely). Sometimes they say, “Bring back the real-churches.”

2. Bring back communion rails (that is right! Someone who wasn’t practicing and hasn’t been catechized came to this conclusion on all his own).

3. Gregorian Chant is more beautiful than the 30-50 year old music we’ve been using…

4. Make sure the community is not talking all the time, especially the choirs.

5. Why does Father always tell a joke that isn’t connected in any way to the message of his homily. I want to be fed when and if I go.

6. Visible Clergy & Religious (i.e. collar & habit)

Above all the spiritual change that needs to take place is an authentic concern with honouring and praising God before pleasing men. If we stop trying to appease everyone, we will actually begin serving their good-nature rather than their concupiscence.

Priest and NunThese are just a few. But I find it interesting that these are especially the people who are not in any “camp” but they have a natural Catholic-sense. That is, they want a Catholic Culture, not something that is swept up in modern-trends of bland-simplicity. They want noble-simplicity, richness of faith, a place of beauty, and worship that strives for excellence instead of being on par with what people find else-where in the world. Sometimes I find the Church is doing the world, but worse than the world. If you live in the world, why go to Church when it can’t even get the world-trends right…We need to be set apart, and offer something else.

The good news from my vantage point is that the newer priests coming out of the wood work are not obsessed with externals, but want to utilize them to fulfill the Church’s task in being sacramental (visible, tangible, sensible). I know that this can be difficult for some people to agree with. But it will come to pass that we will return to these Churchpractices, and with the right spirit! So its just a matter of waiting. And as Blessed Mother Theresa says, if they are going to destroy what you build, build it anyways.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Reforming a Sterile Catholic-Culture: Externals…oh my!

  1. Father, I am a recent convert so I do not have fond memories of a church that once was. My church is today’s church. When I was in RCIA and I learned about the Real Presence I was blown away. I knew at that moment that this was Christ’s church, God’s manifestation of his love and mercy, where we could have a direct encounter with Him at every mass. Knowing this to be true, why would I stay away? How could I stay away? This divine mystery and reality (in my opinion) supercedes any edifice, or slight, or disagreement, or hurt, good preaching, bad preaching, good music, bad music. I’m not saying that the church does not need to continually reform and evaluate pastoral issues, but as a lay person, if I truly believe that the Catholic Church is the steward of Christ’s sacraments, and that our Lord is present at every mass, is that not enough? It is self evident that the world can never offer what we as Catholics are privileged to experience during the liturgy. I think it is a luxury for us to worry about a bad homily or communion rail when many of our brothers and sisters are being martyred and are fortunate if they can receive communion or even worship under a roof.

  2. Thank you Fr. Chris we need more good priests like you. I pray we will go back to our traditional Catholic roots.

  3. Beauty is what first drew me into the Catholic Church. The rich vestments, the candles, the dressings of the altar, the golden patens held by the altar servers, the incense and chant. I was agnostic(raised Evangelical Protestant) at the time but knew these people were worshiping something and I wanted to worship too.
    Catholic identity is all about the sense of worship and who we believe God is. Like the Israelites, we are a “peculiar people.” Externals show an internal disposition towards God, that He is Our Lord and Beloved.

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