“Forming Intentional Disciples” by Sherry Wendell gives some interesting statistics about attendance at Mass. Those considered the builder generation, born in 1943 or before, attendance at Mass was 45%. The boomer generation, those born between 1944 and 1964, attend Mass 20% of the time. The Generation Xers, folks born between 1965 and 1984 have 13% attendance rate. The Millennials are those born since 1985 attend Mass only 10% of the time.
This information is not meant to scare us into a panic, but it’s meant to help the Church, all of us, to consider other avenues for being a thriving church in the future. We have to recognize that the faith will not be handed down as in the past through the Sacramental hooks, (Marriages and Baptisms), cultural or peer pressure (Italian, Irish or friends hanging out), nor by family’s ties.
The Catholicism in the future will have to be one based in a person choosing to be a disciple, an intentional disciple, rather than one who is a Catholic because of the culture. The future of the Catholic Church is for individual members to have personal relationship to Christ. Most people desire a relationship with someone, not with an institution. This personal relationship is what the Apostles shared and Popes and Saints proclaimed throughout the history of the Church. So let’s discover if it is possible to claim it for ourselves and the future of the Catholic Church.
Blessings… Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: Do the stats above ring true in rural Iowa? What is my percentage of attendance at Mass? Is the culture supportive for me to attend Mass? Do I desire a “personal relationship” with Christ?
Several years ago I read the book by Sherry Weddell “Forming Intentional Disciples”. She noted that for the last 400 years the Catholic Church has primarily been focused on teaching the children the faith through Religious Education programs and Catholic Schools. The Church has also spent a great deal of time with sacramental initiation. However what worked in the 17th century might not work in the 21st century.
The old paradigm was that a young person might drift away from the practice of the Catholic religion after leaving home but would probably return when getting married or when the first child needed to be baptized. Ms. Weddell noted that since the year 1972 marriages in the Church have dropped 60%! So why would a couple bring their child for baptism if they are not attending Mass?
What can be done? What used to work, ain’t! We have to help people come to a personal relationship with God through Christ Jesus. The Millennial generation, those born from 1985 on, may not believe that a personal relationship is possible so why would attendance at Sunday be important. It is our responsibility to help the younger generation have the personal encounter with God, but we ourselves must have that encounter first and … have we?
Blessings, Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT Do I consider my faith as a personal encounter with God? Do I believe that it is possible to have that encounter? Why do I come to Mass – obligation, habit, or relationship.
From Our Question Box – What is the correct knee to put on the ground when genuflecting? The short answer is the right knee. A catholic is invited to make a genuflection towards the Tabernacle where the Eucharist Lord, our true King is reserved. This is done normally when a person enters the pew for the first time and as they leave and also anytime in which a person passes directly in front of the Tabernacle. I will go out on a limb here and say we use the right knee because it goes back to the etiquette of the medieval court of a king. Since the majority of the knights were right handed they would wear their sword on the left hip. When they would enter into the presence of the king they would genuflect on the right knee as a sign of homage to the King. Since the sword was hanging on his left side genuflecting made it more difficult to draw a sword since the left thigh was in the way. Even in the building of castles the spiral stairs going up were built turning to the right to give right handed defenders an advantage. They could slash and thrust downward and towards the left better than the right handed aggressor could coming up the narrow winding stairs.
In Latin the word for left is “sinistra” where we get the word sinister. I apologize to those who are left handed but, is just would not be proper in medieval times, to use the left hand or the left knee when giving homage to a king. Today it is probably not as important which hand we use or which knee we genuflect with.
Blessings, Father Dooley
A few weeks ago I mentioned at masses that I had heard Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook,
compare the community created by Facebook to a religion seeing the two billion members in the role of pastors who bring together different people and create a place of safety and security of around a common need. By belonging to Facebook members are motivated to be more charitable. He said, “Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us.”
Now, as a pastor, I see my role primarily helping members of a parish to worship God. Our coming together as a parish is more than building community and being charitable with our time, talents, and treasure. Our coming together is about offering to God our praise and thanksgiving through the Eucharistic celebration. We also come together to ask for forgiveness and to pray for the needs of others.
Religion can never be about the Self, “What’s in it for me?” Religion is always about the Other, “What can I offer to God?” It is God then who creates the meaning for Religion. It is God who offers salvation to those who remain faithful. It is the worship of God that creates community and inspires members to be charitable.
Mr. Zuckerberg has only half the picture of religion, community. Without God as the focus of the community, his Facebook religion will have to be focused on humanity “The Self” or it will fall flat.
Blessings, Father Dooley
Think about it…
What is my role in the community of faith? Do I see the obligation of worship as
pleasing to God? Could Facebook religion truly satisfy one’s spiritual thirst?
Summer is in full swing now. Outdoor activities abound – baseball, softball, camping and vacations to exciting places. We are a busy people. When it comes to planning a trip most of us will get out the map or the G.P.S. to have an idea of where we are going to find what the shortest route is or the most scenic route. This insures that our vacation is a pleasant one and we get to our destination.
Maybe each one of us needs to do a little planning for our spiritual lives. Like planning a trip we need to plan how to get to Heaven which is our final destination. We should have goals for each day, each week, each month and each year that will strengthen the spiritual life. There are many opportunities out there to learn about the faith. There are many good books, magazines and videos which will inform and also challenge. How can a person make progress in the spiritual life without a plan? Simply put, you can’t. It has been said that if one is not progressing then one is regressing and that just won’t do if the goal is union with God for all eternity.
The Spiritual Plan of life is simple. Just review what you are doing now as far as prayer, study and service then create a plan that you will follow each day, each week, every month and then yearly. Set a goal for adding just one new prayer, or reading a book on the faith and challenge yourself to be of service to someone. If you pray five minutes a day shoot for ten minutes, if you read one book a year on the faith try reading two. If you volunteer twice a month go for four times. Set a goal for going on a retreat yearly. God will reward you if not in this life, surely in the next. With a Spiritual Plan of Life you will be able to determine if you are moving in the right direction or if you are faltering.
Think about it… Do I have a spiritual plan in order to get to Heaven? What is the foundation of my faith life today? I plan for many important thing in life, why not my prayer life? Do I believe it is just a given that all will get to heaven?
Blessings, Father Dooley
The 4th of July is upon us and the Bishops of the United State are inviting us to stand up for the Fortnight for Freedom. We are encouraged to renew our commitment to protecting Religious Liberty as written in the United States Constitution. This year the Church’s theme is “Freedom for Mission,” which unites the idea of Freedom of Religion as found in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States with responsibility to serve the people regardless of their religious affiliation. As a Church, we have a duty and obligation to live out our faith in real and concrete ways. Yet, whenever a government or agency begins to redefine what it means to be Church or limits the actions thereof the rights of the people are threatened.
Some may not understand that Rights guaranteed by the Constitution are being redefined. If one Right is able to be redefined then all Rights are threatened. The Health and Human Services Affordable Health Care Act mandates the Church’s institution to provide health care coverage for things contrary to our moral beliefs or limits our compassion solely to Catholics. We, as a church, are being forced to either compromise our moral beliefs or sacrifice our charitable work to help our brother and sister in need. True religious freedom means freedom from governmental influences and freedom to provide health care insurance that is not opposed to the moral and ethical teaching of Christ. Although the most recent congress is trying to address the issues of the Affordable Healthcare Act we, as members of both society and the Church, must continue to see that the poor receive adequate care. We must also protect the right of the Church to speak out morally on current issues for the development of society.
Think about it… Do I understand why the Catholic Church is opposed to contraceptives, abortion producing drugs, and sterilizations? Can the Government separate worship of the church from its involvement in society? How much control should the state have over the Church?
Blessings, Father Dooley
This Sunday is the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The liturgical color is green as you can see from the vestments worn by the priest. The Church has completed the Lent and Easter Season and now moves into Ordinary Time which will lead us up to the Feast of Christ the King just before Advent begins.
Ordinary Time as a liturgical season is anything but ordinary in the traditional sense. It is a season which reflects the cycles of life on earth and salvation history. We hear from the Gospel the teachings of Christ which is meant as an encouragement to grow in faith. The green color chosen for Ordinary Time is reminiscent of our growing more faithful. Green becomes a sign of hope.
Think about it… Do I have a sense of hope in God’s goodness when I hear the Sunday Gospel? Am I trying to learn more about my faith during this ordinary time? How do I invite Christ Jesus into my life daily?