08 February 2008

Catholic ins and outs

Over at Adam's Ale, Fr. V. has a very fine post on what younger Catholics are finding as "in" and "out" in Catholic life, meaning what attracts them and what doesn't to the faith.

I would agree with what he offers.Among other things, he notes,

Trusting the Roman Ritual seems to have great appeal. It must be done well
(and have a good homilist) but the more we trust the ritual (and trust God) the
more attractive the mass seems to become. Though going to a good mass is “In”,
weekly attendance does not seem to be “In” across the board.

He's quite right here. In parishes where the priest(s) follows the Liturgy of the Church, remembering that he/they are, after all, only the servants of the Liturgy, the people seem to flock (or at least the people who are serious about their faith).

There is something quietly comforting about attending a Liturgy of Mother Church when the worship of God is clearly at the center of attention rather than the personality or peculiarities of a particular priest (or lector, or cantor, or server, or person in the pew in front of you, etc.).

There will - naturally - always be a vocal few who are upset when a priest follows the Liturgy of the Church and preaches the Catholic faith; this is unavoidable. The temptation to priests is to listen too closely to what these naysayers say, often enough because they are the only ones he hears from.

They claim the entire parish is with them though they can't give any information or names. They claim homilies have nothing to do with "everyday life," apparently forgetting that life is all about salvation. They claim the Church is going "backwards" but cannot give you any real reason for this claim.

(I heard all of this just last week from one man [and not the first time from him] and it bothered me greatly [and still does a bit] because what ends up happening is the person(s) tells the priest [me] in not-so-many words that the priest is the reason the Church is going backyards, when the priest is only doing what the Church expects of him. These "naysayers" [and this particular one] are often very sincere in what they say and mean well, but they aren't often grounded enough in the truths of the faith [but I digress]).

A suggestion then: if you want your priest to follow the Liturgy of the Church and to preach the fullness of the Gospel, please, please, please thank him when he does so. And don't do so simply after Mass in the throng of other people because much of what is said on the steps of the church is forgotten. There simply are too many people.

Give Father a call later on or send him a note and thank him, not in general but in specifics. Tell him what it is that you appreciate, what moved you, what led you closer to the Lord. And see if you can't get a few others to do so, as well.

Priests all to rarely hear from the many parishioners who sincerely appreciate what they do. They hear all too often from those few parishioners who want the priests to serve and preach in the way they think they should, which often enough is not in complete union with the mind of the Church.

Remember that priests are like you, they are people too. A general thank you almost never hits home though a specific one does. Father may seem as though he doesn't fully appreciate your gratitude because he wants to be humble and may not quite know what to say. Be grateful that he is humble.

On the other hand, if your priest begins to get puffed up and starts to think too much of himself because he is receiving thanks, do not thank or praise him, but praise the beauty of the Liturgy itself, thank him for being a true servant of the Liturgy. Oh, and don't get too upset that he gets puffed up; it is natural, after all.

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