Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The U.S.--a "Foreign" Mission Country

Fr. Z has an important post that points out something many Catholics do not realize:  America is a missionary country again.  When Europeans first settled here, we were, of course, a missionary country.  We needed priests from overseas to come and serve the people of the newly-settled territory.  As the Catholic population grew, we no longer were considered a mission territory.

Now, Fr. Z says Catholicism in the United States is in trouble and I agree. We are following in the footsteps of Europe, which is largely secular and non-church-going.  We have not had a "Catholic identity" for a couple of generations now.  Our worship is often banal and yawn-inducing.  Our parishes have been hit hard with the abuse scandal and by a surrounding culture which is hostile to Christianity and Catholicism.  Parishes who are trying to revitalize are often too inward-focused to do much evangelizing-by-example.

We are no longer a country whose parishes can sustain themselves spiritually and we are now being served by hard-working priests from so-called third-world countries.

Fr. Z's prescription for Catholic health is one I heartily endorse:
We need to foster worship which stuns, which leaves the newcomer, long-time practicing Catholic, above all the fallen-away simply thunder stuck. Worship must at some point leave people speechless in awe. We need language and music and gesture which in its beauty floods the mind with light even while it swells the heart to bursting.
I hunger with all my heart and soul for this.  I don't know how to overcome decades of literally throwing away breathtaking marble sculpture and putting in their place, cheap buildings that look like little more than auditoriums, ski lodges, or Pizza Huts filled with people who would never consider coming 10 minutes early to Mass to pray or staying 5 minutes after Holy Communion.

When we cross the threshold of a Catholic Church, we should immediately feel awe and peace.  Sadly, this is not always the case.  The building should communicate the Presence of God and inspire all who enter, as should the people who worship there.

This is one of those times in life where the steps of AA is appropriately applied.  We must admit we are powerless and that our lives have become unmanageable. We must turn our lives over to God and beg the Holy Spirit to inspire the churches!!!!

1 comment:

Michele said...

superb post. VERY true.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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