One popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s cliché, but I use this concept to begin my thought process regarding the difficulties within the Catholic Church in general, and the Mass, in particular.
I am “all in” when it comes to traditional teaching, longstanding moral values, and everything that has its roots in Jesus Christ and His established Church. After all, the bedrock of the Church is Sacred Scripture and Tradition. We are an Apostolic Church. We have over 2000 years of history which includes the writings of Church Fathers, the instruction of saints, the heroic witness of the martyrs, various teaching from Church councils, and many other contributions helping us to understand and to pass on the deposit of faith.
Where we run into problems is when there is deviation—even if it is ever-so-small—in our fidelity to this deposit of faith. Being even a little wrong is still being wrong. When things begin to be built on erroneous ideas or unorthodox teaching, we begin walking the path to heresy and apostasy. Whether the error occurs by design (intentionally) or actually in good faith, there is never a reason to allow such error to continue or to try to re-label it or disguise it in some other way. Some small things that we let creep into Church teaching and practice have, in reality, snowballed and turned into an avalanche. We seem to be buried in it now.
If we deviate from an all-male clergy and allow ordained women deacons/priests, we will be in error. If we try to accommodate so-called gay marriages, we will be in error. If we create a new rite within the Church which incorporates pagan or idolatrous elements, we will be in error. If we allow the divorced and re-married (without rectifying the situation through an annulment, etc.) to receive Holy Communion, we are in error. If we say one religion is as good as another, that God actively wills a plurality of religions and minimize the importance of the Church that Christ Himself established, then we are in error. The above list is certainly not all-inclusive.
We are told (and can reasonably verify) that approximately 20% of our faithful attend Mass weekly. We are also instructed that about only 30% of Catholics believe what the Catholic Church teaches about the Holy Eucharist. The teaching on the Real Presence has been successfully undermined. People are leaving the faith in droves—especially the poorly-catechized and misinformed. Ever more claim no formal religious practice or affiliation. Moreover, the importance of Baptism and Confirmation is de-emphasized. Church weddings are not occurring. Many times, people just live together. We are given more of the same moral and doctrinal ambiguity, the same moral and doctrinal pablum that we have been fed for decades. Just be nice. All are welcome. Don’t judge. And how exactly is that working out for any of us? Take another survey please.
I want to spend a few future bulletins emphasizing the importance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the heart of the Catholic faith and the soul of the Church that Jesus established. Beginning with more reverence and silence, we need to re-establish the atmosphere within the Church as a sacred place of prayer and worship, not just some ordinary place of communal social gathering. We need to understand the importance of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. How we behave in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament speaks volumes concerning what we actually believe. Most importantly, we must see the Mass as the greatest sacrifice to God, the Almighty Father, that we, as humans, can be a part of and witness on this earth. So much has been misunderstood, poorly taught, disregarded or even deliberately distorted. When we do not realize the essential sacrificial nature of the Holy Mass and its importance as established by Jesus Himself, little by little, everything else begins to crumble as well.
It was Jesus who commanded us to “Do this in memory of me” regarding the Holy Eucharist. (Lk. 22:19) My goal is to help us all see more clearly the utmost importance of carrying this out reverently and faithfully by our attendance at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
(Definately worth repeating--reverently, of course.)