As many Churches in various areas close due to lack of attendance by parishioners this leaves the burning question, where are the people? The other question we must ask is why have they fallen away from attending Mass?
In order to appeal to our younger generation many Priests and Religious believe that by making Mass more 'entertaining' this will bring our teenagers back to practicing their Faith. This is a very patronizing way of treating our young adults, are they children that they need to be 'entertained'?
To try and make Mass more entertaining what those in authority have actually done is to make worshipping God irrelevant. They have de-Divinized God so much that Jesus appears to be 'just like us', why would anyone worship a 'mere man' who is just like us? By taking this attitude, Mass has lost all reverence there is no real feel of the Majesty of God. It is all well and good to try and make Jesus 'people friendly' or some sort of 'fuzzy wuzzy' people pleaser, but is this the real Jesus or is it an attempt to 'spin' Jesus to the masses?
One of the major reasons why our young people and others have left our parishes is that sin has been forgotten and the serious repercussions which goes with it. Many Priests and Religious are taught not to speak about sin lest they make people feel uncomfortable and instead to focus on upbeat, 'cuddly wuddly' feel good homilies and teachings that have no bases in the Truths of the Catholic Church.
When sin has been forgotten the Sacraments soon follow, why partake of the Sacraments when they have lost all relevance? If sin is no longer considered to be serious and neither those in authority or parents speak about it, then a falling away of the faithful will follow.
Even though low Church attendance is still going on as many ponder how to win back our youth different methods have been tried. Many Priests and Religious have introduced 'liturgical dancing' during Mass where did our Blessed Mother, St. Mary Magdalene or St. John dance beneath the Cross as Jesus endured His Passion? We have seen or heard where different parishes have also included 'clap happy Masses' where the old hymns have been substituted with pop songs as electric guitars and drums blare loudly during Mass. I am not against songs that Glorify God but why do we need bands who sound more like hard rock than reverent hymns? When we take these steps to modernize Mass we come close to negating who we are worshipping in the first place.
It is sad that even First Communion for our young children has been so de-mystified that many families are requested by their Priests and Nuns to dress their children informally. This removes all the Mystery from the Eucharist and makes what should be a most beautiful and one of the most significant moments in a childs life little more than a ho hum experience. No longer do we see our children dressed in their best outfits as they prepare to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. Now we see our young children go forward dressed in jeans and T-shirts, no wonder it has lost its relevance for our young children.
The death of sin is the real reason why many no longer attend Mass. We have lost a sense of sin and what happens to our soul when we engage in sinful acts or behave in an unchristian manner. It is as if nothing we do carries any consequences therefore Mass has become antiquated and archaic in this modern age. We have grown up and grown away from God our only means of Salvation.
Some also think that if they live good lives then they do not have to go to Mass in that their good actions alone will save them. No it wont! If God has been removed from the centre of your lives no matter what good you do it counts as nothing once you decide to ignore God's Commandments, then you leave your hearts open to attack by the evil one. When people think they no longer need God this is pride in its most elemental form a case of ' I will not serve' which is an echo of Satan and the demons who followed him to hell.
The difference between Jesus and Satan is one who came to serve and to teach us how to be servants to each other in the Kingdom of God, which Jesus showed us throughout His life. We also have the opposite who is Satan who would like to think himself master of all and servant of none the very epitome of pride and avarice. When we fail to recognise these differences we are then in danger of believing ourselves independent of God and make ourselves our own arbitrators of what is good and evil. Many then make of themselves 'little gods' who serve themselves.
When we ignore the seriousness of sin, then we also ignore the crucial importance of maintaining a relationship with God through prayer and the Sacraments of the Church. If we feel we are not sick and in need of no healing then why do we need the Divine Physician? This way of thinking is to believe that if a person is diagnosed with terminal cancer then good thoughts alone will save it, NO it wont! If many can accept that fact, then why do they ignore the seriousness of what sin does to the soul? It is the cancer of the soul which will eventually destroy it.
Our language has become so corrupted by political correctness that Priests, Nuns, catholic educators and even parents will not mention sin lest it distress the listener. We must not return to the hell fire and brimstone days where many teachers made hell to near and Heaven to far away, but neither can we ignore it.
In a survey which was conducted a few years ago, when people were questioned what they thought was a sin, the only sin mentioned was murder. The survey also revealed that many people consider co-habitation without the benefit of marriage to be a viable choice. Casual sex was also found to be acceptable so long as both adults consented. Adultery was explained away as a life experience that may enhance a troubled marriage. All this nice language to disguise the fact that sin is SIN!
The biggest triumph that Satan has had in our century is the fact that many deny his existance thereby sin also no longer exists as everything is explained away as 'lifestyle choices'. Until our young people are made aware of just how grave sin is, then the Church will continue to decrease in Mass attendance. We also need to understand that by encouraging our children to disregard sin and that all they have to do in order to be saved is lead good lives is to lead them astray. Jesus did not say ' Go and do what feels good' Jesus said to all He forgave, 'Go and sin NO more'.
In the end when did sin die, because I missed that memo!
Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.