Thursday, August 7, 2008

Attitude at Mass-

There's an attitude that is very disturbing to me, and it SHOULD be disturbing to us all.

The attitude in which people, sit there, waiting at the end of Mass, glancing over their shoulder and as soon as Mass has ended they dart from their pew, not even bothering to bow or even genuflect, not even seeming to realize that the King of Kings was present, not giving Him another thought.

Maybe it's unfair for me to assume they don't know He is present, but then again; we tend to pay attention to those things we think are important. Is it fair to suggest, that, given the lack of reverence, perhaps people don't realize that Christ is Truly Present in the tabernacle? I won't say it's a deliberate rude gesture towards Our Lord; but the behavior of all too many Sunday-Mass-attending Catholics simply suggests that if they have any faith at all, it is something they do not understand at all.

I say this because even a small understanding of what happens at Mass and WHOM is present is a life-changing realization, and the first thing we tend to do once we realize that Jesus is really there is to do things as a signal of what has gone on inside of us. As in genuflect, or bow, or make the sign of the cross. It may be small, and doing this might make us feel weird; for we might wonder what our friends or family will think of us if we suddenly realize that we've been ignoring Christ and experience even a small change in behavior that signals an even greater change in our hearts.

But, I have learned, it's not easy to be Catholic, even in a Catholic church! Those who actively pursue holiness are often regarded as being "odd" or even "a fanatic”.

It is for this reason I question why people don't genuflect; is it that they don't believe or don't understand, or is it that they are afraid of being seen as a “fanatic”?

I suspect that the answer leans more towards the former, although I'm certain there are a great number of Catholics afraid to practice their faith out loud, the idea that surrounds them and tells them (and all of us!) that "faith is personal".

Yes, faith IS personal...and it is also social. For if the social aspect isn't expressed then faith dies from the act of showing and professing our Love to Our Lord. If we're afraid to even genuflect because of what other Catholics might call us or think about us, then how can we possibly take the next step and be willing to verbally proclaim Christ?

The culture of the lukewarm is in charge. The "lukewarm" are those who claim to be "good Catholics" because they attend Mass "most Sundays and some Holy Days if convenient", send their children to Catholic school, support the school and church sometimes and if it's fun (and convenient socially!), but pick and choose what they want to believe. Because of their high status as "church-going Catholics" they also get to sit in judgment and gossip over those Catholics who spend more time working hard to BE Catholic as opposed to talking about or thinking about what good Catholics they are.

In reality, most Lukewarm Catholics aren't so vile; and so they go about their lives, not even considering that they should be genuflecting when they arrive at Mass and when they leave...for they don't even realize Jesus is Present. They don't go to Confession because they think Vatican II "did away" with the sacrament.

We also ALL have the responsibility to educate ourselves (Biggy!); we all have questions. The bad news is that the Church is over 2,000 years old, with theology that goes back to the beginning of time. The GOOD news is that all of the questions we have, in reality, have been asked before. The most common questions are those too many people are afraid to ask...yet if they did, they would be changed forever.

There's a lot of fear out there among the Lukewarms. It's ALL ABOUT fear for them; about what their friends and family will think, about having to change, about those questions they have about the answers they think they should know...but have never been taught.

Catechesis needs to happen, but we have a couple of lost generations out there, adults running around knowing that they should go to church, wanting to raise their children Catholic, but having NO IDEA what it really MEANS to be Catholic! The result is a sort of spiritual standstill as these adults struggle to live a life of faith in a culture that says faith (and life! Did you see a dig there?) has no value.

It's an outright battle for the souls of Catholics and those on the frontlines are taking a beating most people can't even imagine. How do we inspire conversion in those we love, those who can't seem to break out of the relativism that holds them bound? Some get ticked off and leave the Church if they are provided with authentic teaching. Some get ticked off and, through argument and discussion, eventually convert. Others simply disconnect and practice their faith with all the passion and understanding of a headless zombie.

I don't know what the answers are; I'm constantly stressing out my brain trying to figure out how to reach people through the barriers they've put up. Yet, I'll keep trying; over and over again.

I can't help but think of the early martyrs, and all the martyrs throughout the history of the Church, even those of today. They were and are Catholics like all of us, but whose practice of the faith led and leads to death in horrible ways. They were men and women who stepped forward even as their bishops were torn apart by lions, and there, in the face of that reality, in that very presence, they were not afraid to declare themselves to be Christians and follow the bloody footprints into the arena.

Do I think I'd be strong enough to be one of those martyrs? I don't know. I hope so. Because I think a larger persecution is coming and those of us who believe all that the Church teaches and try to embrace it, and seek to preach it and live it...I think we're going to suffer. And I believe that that needs to happen.