Saying what needs to be said

Seen in a parish bulletin. A letter from the pastor to his parishioners.

My dear people of St. Matthew’s,
Recently we have been discussing what it means to be a “practicing Catholic.” We saw that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1992, lists five “precepts,” or basic laws, that are fundamental to living the Catholic Faith. In short, following these precepts is absolutely necessary in order to call oneself a “practicing Catholic,” although much more is required than the bare minimum to call oneself a “good Catholic.”
The First Precept, as we saw previously, is: You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation and rest from servile labor.
It is the widespread violation of this precept that has caused the greatest number of problems in our Church over the last forty years. Currently, the number of Roman Catholics in the United States who live this precept and attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day is roughly 20 percent. Obviously, this is a deplorable statistic, and is the explanation for many of the troubles in our Catholic families.
Marriage is a sacrament. When a couple comes to a Catholic parish wanting to get married, they first must have an interview with a priest or a deacon. Any Catholic clergyman will tell you his experience is that the overwhelming majority of couples who approach the Church seeking the sacrament of marriage are living together, and are not attending Mass on any regular basis. Now, if a couple are not practicing Catholics, why would they want to get married in the Church? The answer, I suppose, is that they feel “culturally Catholic.” They want to have a traditional wedding, with all the trappings, and they want to have it in the parish church with which they have family associations. After the wedding, they never set foot in church again until the first baby needs baptism. Then, when Catholic couples divorce in the same percentages as the rest of society, everyone is mystified. If they speak to a priest at some point, inevitably the question comes: “How could God let this happen?” The only answer we can give to a question like that is: “You never allowed Him into your marriage in the first place. You never prayed, you never came to Church, you never went to confession, and occasionally you received Communion unworthily. How did you expect Him to help you when you shut Him out of your life so completely?”
The other place where this manifests itself so clearly is in the area of religious education. Here at St. Matthew’s we have an excellent religious education program, staffed by very hard working employees and dedicated volunteers. We try our best to provide a quality, orthodox Catholic education for our young people, and strive each year to improve it. The problem is that very few of the 2,000 children in the program are ever taken to Mass by their parents. The numbers are no different in St. Matthew’s than they are in any other parish in our diocese, or in our country for that matter. I will tell you honestly, I simply do not understand why parents bring their children to religious education classes if they are not practicing Catholics and never come to Mass. If I were a parent and not at all religious, I simply wouldn’t bother. And if I did, I certainly would not complain constantly about the minimalist requirements of the program. I do not want to sound blasphemous, but why would parents take their children to soccer practice each week and then never take them to play in a game?
It is hard, perhaps, for parents who are not religious to understand, but the Catholic Church cannot give their children anything that they are not first receiving at home. In the religious education program, we have children for about an hour a week for twenty-four weeks a year. The kids come late, and leave early. They miss classes. They never come to Mass unless mandated by the program under pain of expulsion. Is it any wonder, then, that they are bored, misbehave, learn to hate religion, and don’t know even the most basic Catholic prayers by the seventh grade? Anyone with any sense knows that Catholic religious education in America is a complete and utter failure. But the reason for this is directly related to the refusal to come every week to Sunday Mass. Absent that, everything we do will be nothing more than going through the motions. Our children deserve better.

-Fr. McCartney

Source: Creative Minority Report (with link to original)

1 comment:

Pascendi said...

Nice to see an orthodox priest in Rockville Center diocese. This parish is one of the very few parishes on Long Island where a homilist will occasionally preach Humane Vitae from the pulpit.

If priests begin acting like this… and begin spending more time in the confessional instead of in the rectory watching TV and ‘surfing’… we may see a springtime yet! Certainly, Benedict XVI has done much to bring about the awaited thaw in places like DRVC.

Authentic ‘renewal’ will only happen when 1.) Parents get off of contraception, 2.) Priests begin taking the sacrament of confession more seriously… not through their words, but through their actions (so that lay people can follow suit) and 3.) Bishops begin preparing themselves for persecution… instead of trying to avoid it!

It would not hurt for nuns to start returning to their habits and the tried & true devotions & prayer life of old. When a nun wears her habit on her lapel (little silver dove), it does nothing to convey that her life has been set aside for the King of Kings.

I’m in favor of ‘roll-back’… not containment. And while Fr. McCartney’s letter is more about ‘containment’ of the existing problem rather than roll-back… I believe it is a good start. Unfortunately… a similar letter was sent to ALL members of DRVC back in the 80’s by Bishop McGann. It had little or no effect.

Don’t show me what they say… show me what they DO.