I thought the Bishops designated today as a day of prayer?
Do Bishops just say stuff now? But no one has to pay any attention? Maybe that Bear guy is right - Michael Voris has become irrelevant?
Is there any unity in the Church?
At my parish - not a word about Iraq - just a brief intention for Christians in the Middle East and Africa. Nothing else - not even in the bulletin. How is that for Christian unity?
The deacon had the homily. He's normally pretty good. Not a word on Iraq though.
Instead he extrapolated upon the Gospel. His take on it could be summed up in this: Jesus and his disciple didn't want to be bothered with an outsider but then when the woman's faith proved stronger than their 'revulsion' a light bulb went off in Jesus' brain and he suddenly realized his mission expanded and he was to heal Gentiles too - as if he didn't know that before. Because Scripture said 'he grew in wisdom, age, and grace - and knowledge' - this was another lesson to be learned by Jesus. Not us and the disciples. I disagree. Christ knew before the Cannanite woman even approached him. I didn't let it distract me though.
The deacon then used the pope's words about going out to the marginalized and inviting them - the deacon's words: "to Mass." We can't expect people to search us out - we have to bring them in - to Mass.
What is there to attract?
I looked around the church. The tabernacle is in a scrunched box on a shelf in the corner, nearly out of sight. There is a tacky portable altar - a stripped high altar, no sacred images except for a couple of really ugly statues on side sterile, modern, altars. The church is modern and sterile - not that it couldn't be beautiful if embellished - but it is not. The music is what it is in every ordinary church. No one I know would want to come to Mass with me there. In fact a friend came with me once for Christmas and said he thought it was too Protestant and wouldn't go back.
I've had friends who would go with me to the Basilica, the Cathedral, and St. Agnes - but no one is interested in the small modern parish. I go to Mass alone at my local parish, but by the grace of God I am able to pray and remain recollected - it seems many people may not be able to do so.
When I was coming back to the Church, I was fortunate to have beautiful churches and liturgy around me. I was attracted to Jesus in the Eucharist - the Blessed Sacrament - and the churches I went to had the tabernacles front and center - I knew where Christ was.
It must be our faith - a living faith - which attracts souls.
My parish church is fine for me - but I believe in the Eucharist - I know the Mass, even when it is reduced to the essentials. I recognize Christ in the breaking of the bread - it is a wonderful grace I have been given. I am able to tune out a lot of stuff. Nevertheless, I just do not see my parish attracting 'outsiders' seeking God. Parents with children they want to send to Catholic school, yes. But if I was just returning to the Church my parish would not attract me - or anyone I know.
Kevin O'Brien, a blogger I like, has a post on a Minnesota church he and his troupe stopped at for Sunday Mass. Evidently the country church may be as homey as my parish church. Kevin kind of rants about it. He makes a valid point of course - but I think we need to speak with great respect about the holy mysteries - Holy Mass - no matter how it is celebrated. As I said - it is the Eucharist - the source and summit of our faith. As Catholics we may have to cultivate that respect and reverence in ourselves - nourished by authentic prayer and faithful attention to the Word of God. We have to ask for that grace - we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare our souls. I have found devotion to Our Lady, keeping her company before Mass, is a very good way to do this.
It is God who first loved us and draws us.
We attend church on Sundays - assist at Mass - to worship God. We are obliged to do so, but it should be so much more than an obligation for us who believe. I think it is our responsibility as believers to lift up our hearts to make our worship authentic - in spirit and truth - even in the most desperate or compromised situations. We must try to avoid projecting a critical attitude, approaching the church with negative expectations, as well as disparaging the form of Mass. We need to pray for an increase of faith and devotion.
We must try and recall how thrilled those who may not have access to any sanctuary or church, much less the sacraments, how thrilled and edified they would be to attend Mass in my parish or the one Kevin attended. Think of the Christians deprived of Mass in Iraq.
That said, the truth is, people need mystery, solemnity, beauty - holiness. They need a divine attraction, a divine focus - the priest at the altar, ad orientem before the tabernacle - centered in the sanctuary - the Holy of Holies. Accompanied by awesome prayer, reverent chant and Catholic hymns - and scriptural, theologically correct homilies.
Remember - this is just Mass chat.