Imagine if you will that you’ve heard about a restaurant with amazing food. When you arrive you are greeted coldly. You are told to find a seat anywhere. You look around and all the tables are full except a few in the back. You sit down. There is no waiter, instead, you place your order in a box, by repeating words off a menu that have no significance to you. In between there is awful elevator music playing. You begin to wonder when you are going to eat this food your friend was so enthusiastic about. Finally you are told to come up to a counter, where you are served your food. Your eyes open wide; it tastes heavenly, otherworldly. You see that half the restaurant has left already. Not sure what to do, you go back to you seat, where the manger comes out and thanks the remaining few for coming. You leave. You think about eating at other places, but the food doesn’t taste the same and some places are more like clubs and don’t even offer food. Everyday you keep coming back to the restaurant and everyday you fall more and more in love with the food. At least that is how it should work, but after eating there for 4 years, you start to resent the food. If it weren’t for the food, you wouldn’t be here. You’ve heard of other restaurants that are part of the chain. These other restaurants are doing cool things and still able to serve the amazing food, but alas they are too far from you.
Sadly this is how I feel about a good majority of Catholic Churches. Some churches are like the restaurant to a tee. Others may share a few characteristics. Then there are parishes that are breaking the mold. There are numerous reasons for why things are the way they are, but I’d rather share my feelings for the rare few who might feel the same.
So usually when I express my dissatisfaction for the way things are, I usually get two responses:
- You just don’t understand or appreciate the traditions of the Catholic Church
- be the change that you want to see
Number 1 is frustrating because unless you go to a parish, where the Mass is celebrated in the extraordinary form (note, which can be celebrated in the vernacular tongue), your parish most likely does not respect the traditions of the church. Here’s a quick check, does your parish uses piano at all or not kneel or does your priest not face west? Regardless most of the changes I purpose have nothing to do with the liturgy. Here are two that might: 1. using a screen to follow along at Mass instead of a missal; 2. Allowing people to greet each other before the start of Mass. Number 1 is also frustrating because it makes me feel like I am just going to wake up one day and finally get it. If I don’t get it I am a bad Catholic or a protestant masquerading as a Catholic.
Number 2 is frustrating because honestly where do you begin? I really do want to help the church and not just complain all the time, but if nobody is open to correction then how can things change. Second I want to believe that the real key to change is in making disciples. Changed people change the church. This is why I want to work as either a DRE or a youth or young adult minister and yet those doors keep closing. Whenever I see a well functioning parish, I want to bring it to my parish, not for my own glory, but because I love the church and want her to make disciples among all the nations. I want to see more parishes work together to reach the lost and yet there is so much red tape.
I don’t know if anyone else feels the way I do, but I feel highly frustrated, where I was once highly motivated. I also want to say that I am not in danger of leaving the church because I know that there are highly functioning Catholic Churches and that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. The latter of which cannot be shaken because it was revealed to me by the power of God’s word and the Holy Spirit. What I am afraid of is becoming indifferent or resentful.