Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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Homily
Fr. Paul Ward

 

Sat., & Sun., April 14 & 15, 2018
3rd Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

 

Mass Attendance in Our Times

 

   The Easter Season presses on at full speed. We had a beautiful Divine Mercy Sunday, with Holy Hours dedicated to Divine Mercy all around the world. I’m very happy to say that last Sunday, at the little holy hour we had, I continued hearing confessions for four hours. Thanks be to God that so many souls opened themselves up to receive the mercy of God in the sacrament of reconciliation! It was a day of victory for God and the souls whom he loves, victory over sin and the powers of hell. Let us praise the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

   Recently some priest friends pointed out to me a Gallup poll which stated what we already know: Mass attendance has been shrinking drastically over the last few decades.
[1] This homily has been or will soon be put on our parish web site, and those who are curious may find the link to this interesting study. It studies age groups and various religions, and how one identifies with and practices his own religion. I think some of you have already seen this study from an article on ChurchMilitant.com.

   Today I would like to consider briefly some of the results that came out for the Catholics – results that only confirm what everybody knows who has eyes open – but then explore some of the causes of the ever increasing abandonment of the faith, and in this way, fortify your faith, and uncover some of the temptations of the Evil One, who so desires to separate you from our loving Lord. If an animal knows where the snare is, he avoids it; humans are often not so careful with the devil’s snares; yet no one despair, for a Psalm speaks of our Savior in these terms: “[the Lord] will deliver you from the snare of the fowler” (Ps 91:3).

   The study demonstrated that Catholics, while being the largest single Church in this country, are only about a quarter of the Population, and that roughly 25% of Catholics go to Church on Sunday. Most interesting in this study are two points: first that since Pope Francis has occupied the Papacy, Mass attendance has fell by 6%, the sharpest fall in decades – perhaps ever – and, secondly, there is a huge collapse of the faith by those who are in their twenties. Related to this is a third point, that no matter which age group you look at, in no age group does Mass attendance make up the majority: it’s always less than 50%.

   In a word, it’s a sign of the time. The faith is vanishing everywhere, persecution against Catholicism arises in every quarter, everyone is a protected Class except Christians in general, and to be a Catholic now and in the future you’ll need some incredibly strong convictions.

   What might be the causes of this? OK, fewer practice the Faith; why? Let me propose, from my own deliberations, experience and studies, some possible causes. I’ll state ten top reasons, perhaps you, good parishioner who loves your Faith, can think of more, or might state these more eloquently than I’m about to. So here goes.

 

 

   1.) First is the simple lack of faith. How many don’t believe in God, or they make up their own easy-to-control God in their own imaginations. They do not believe in divine revelation, in the scriptures and apostolic tradition as the Word of God, they don’t believe in the Eucharist, in Mary, in the sacraments, in the divine institution that Catholicism is. Also, the universe has been scrubbed clean, in their minds, by evolution, molecules, complex scientific theories, teachers, journalists and politicians. I include liturgical abuses with lack of faith; as the liturgy, so the faith. Unfaithful, modernist liturgy is immeasurably corrosive to Catholicism.

   2.) The breakdown of the family. The skyrocketing numbers of divorces damages both spouses and children; children growing up separated from their parents is hurtful to them. When the Catholic lessons of God, trust, love, forgiveness, virtues, chastity and carrying one’s cross normally provide a fruitful garden from which the faith grows with abundant fruits, that garden is simply absent, and the child is like a plant trying to grow in the Sahara desert. Add to this the evils of contraception and abortion; but still more the promotion of homosexuality, or sodomy in its more historically proper name, contradicts the covenant between God and man. All of this destroys the faith.

   3.) Education. Given there are some truly good and virtuous teachers these days, that’s not the big picture. Sex-ed programs start in kindergarten. Students know nothing about history, but much about transgenderism. Children are trained to be good socialist voters. Catholicism is ridiculed by teachers in public and private. Catholic schools don’t provide frequent confessions and Mass, but do provide Muslim prayer rooms and LGBT “safe rooms.” The few Masses they offer are disassociated with liturgical tradition and include poorly done pop music. Students finish 12 years of Catholic education and know nothing about the Catholic faith, and don’t practice it.

   4. The lack of the fear of God. The Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom. Everyone goes to heaven, and heaven is imagined as a paradise of greed and sensuality. Even some clergy teach that there is no such thing as hell (it’s just forgetfulness), demons (it’s just your bad feelings inside), damnation (God’s too kind to do that to anybody) – and so they do not preach mercy promoting holiness, but abuse God’s mercy and promote sin.

   5. The clergy. Who can deny the role the clergy have had in dismantling the faith? Poor homilies, clergy siding with secularism and modernism, ignorant clergy, scandalous clergy, clergy who seem incapable of observing liturgical norms. Clergy who attack faithful priests, and promote and enable unfaithful, sodomite and heterodox priests. Diocesan funds are taken from faithful priests and poured upon unfaithful priests, as if to artificially persuade the world to think that temporal prosperity is associated with dissent, and failure with fidelity, and so fidelity is wrong and dissent is right. They became clergy to attempt the impossible result of changing the Church, changing her doctrine, making her other than what Christ made her. They will fail, but do lots of damage before they are called to their own final judgment.

   6. Somewhat related to this, the massive Church bureaucracies. Yes, bishops need employees, and some are excellent Catholics. But that, again, is not the big picture. The big picture is as follows: bloated bureaucracies of hundreds and hundreds of people. These people boss the priests around in consistently disrespectful ways, when they have neither the formation, experience or vocation of the care of souls. They require massive salaries and expensive office places, and they run programs that, when they are not useless, they are damaging to the faith, but remain expensive programs nonetheless. All of this destruction of the faith requires huge amounts of cash, so the various dioceses demand astronomical amounts of money from the parishes, never living within their means, and causing hardship upon the parishes. Priests become disgusted with their priesthood, because it seems to them that, instead of being ministers of the Eucharist and of mercy and of saving doctrines, they have become only branch managers of a half-dishonest fund raising outfit. Fewer priests mean more parishes per priest; this with the ever-increasing demands for money puts the Church back where it was during the protestant revolt: Bishops had more than one see, and the Church demanded too much money. Should we expect a different result when we keep doing the same thing? All of this attacks the faith of the faithful.

   7. Sins against the sixth. I guess that never in the history of the world has there been so much eroticism and impurity as our own times. The media, especially the internet, but also movies, magazines and music videos, attack chastity in a way that is relentless, ubiquitous, brainwashing and extreme. Every attack on purity is especially damaging to the faith. Infidelity, cohabitation, divorce and remarriage without an annulment (i.e., adultery), self-abuse, pornography, sodomy, prostitution, affairs – all these things alienate people from God, and promote the abandon of the practice of the Faith.

   8. Greed and excesses in consumption and acquisitiveness. We Americans have so much prosperity (other places do, too). Happiness is put in possessions and money. Shopping is more important than prayer. Having is more important than giving. Possessions takes priority to love. One turns to God like the great ATM in the sky only when one wants stuff. So obsessed with material things, the mind has no space for spiritual things.

   9. An exaggerated independence. It’s the me-society. Couples fight each with self-love, instead of reconciling with love for the other. This is the “I am not my brother’s keeper” culture of Cain who killed Abel. Catholicism is redefined as self-fulfillment or becoming the greatest person I can be. I, me, to me, for me, by me – my time, my money, my things, my comfort, my preferences… in a word, raw egotism. This, too, diminishes faith.

   10. My last point, is the media. I’ve mentioned it some already, especially as regards purity, but we can add how many things out there, such as news outlets, movie after movie where God’s unnatural absence is made to look normal, documentaries that scorn religious truth, etc.

   Liberalism will not save the Church. Attempting to change Church doctrine won’t either. Nor will the promotion of contraception or sodomy. Nor will permissiveness regarding abortions. Nor will the endless money-grabbing by the pastors. Nor will administrative cleverness.

   A certain woman said, “I’m leaving the Church, after so many years of hoping the Church would move forward and accept same-sex unions, women priests, married priests and more.” This expression summarizes several of the reasons stated above. How could any Catholic harbor these hopes? Her position is the fruit of a long process of rejecting the faith, rejecting divine revelation, rejecting morality especially as regards the sixth, of having no understanding what God and the Church teach about the priesthood and marriage, of bad catechesis, of being misled by those who should have taught her better, of letting herself be brainwashed by the allegedly “politically correct” positions taught to her by the media; and who knows if any private sins darkened her mind and weakened her will – and maybe her failure to use frequent confession, to have daily prayer, to go to Sunday Mass, to pray the Rosary… all these things that should have arrested all of these problems while they were still small were all missing, and her soul is now in freefall into apostasy. Let us all pray for her, as the salvation of her soul is, obviously, in grave peril.

   And let us all resolve to fight these temptations, to resist the tsunami of diabolical Godlessness of our times, to repent where we have failed, and to help promote the true faith.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Librevia Editrice Vaticana

 

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Archives of Homilies on Elijah during Lent 2016

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Archives of Homilies on the New English Translation