You know you are guilty of it. You and I and probably everyone else has said at one point or another something like, “If the Mass was only a little more this and less of that then people would come to Church and they would stay.” Now perhaps you were hoping for a little more movement, a lot of liturgical dancing and a power point presentation ‘to engage the young,’ but you are wrong; it won’t work. And perhaps you wanted more reverence and beauty and silence like I have often craved so that others can experience this great God as we do, but we are still wrong; that won’t work either. We are wrong because we have forgotten that the Mass doesn’t keep people in the Church, evangelization and catechesis do.
And yet, how often is this the mistaken reasoning of pastoral teams all over the place? A young couple comes to meet with the pastor to register at the parish so that they can have canonical rights to be wed in that parish. Do they believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Not really. Do they go to Church on a regular basis to partake in an unbloodly sacrifice that continues to save souls? No, but they will try to do that if it means being able to get married in that same really beautiful Church. They have not welcomed the good news, the euangelion, they do not have the faintest idea of why the Church does what it does and there is resentment that they might have to learn about it. BUT, reasons the pastor, by giving them the Sacrament it might win over their hearts for Jesus! Baloney.
A young person comes forward for Confirmation not because they want to but because mom and dad say they should. The young person doesn’t believe what he hears in his instructional classes, and he can’t believe that mom and dad would want their child to profess something in public that they (both parents and child) do not agree with. The young person cannot pass a basic catechesis quiz from 60 years ago, but no matter. The Confirmation team knows all of this (how could they not) and yet no child will be turned away from the Sacrament because the young person might reflect on it later and draw some nice conclusions about something Church. What are we doing?
If we are serious about bringing families and broken lives back to God in any meaningful way then we need to stop giving away the Sacraments like cheap consolation prizes. If we want more people in the Church then we need to be doing much more work outside of the Church to bring them in. If we want more people loving the Mass then we need to spend the time and energy creating dynamic and relevant programs, events and resources to teach our people. This is not a game. The Body of Christ is hurting.
To learn more about what Patrick is doing for the Kingdom check out his website at patricksullivan.ca.