What Catholics don't know

That’s the notion I’m chewing on this week over in my column, “All Things New.”

A snip:

A couple years ago, during Easter season, a man stopped me after church one Sunday.

He was perturbed. “What’s all this Latin doing in the mass?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“All this Latin!” he said, exasperated. “I thought they took that out. I don’t understand it.”

I explained that, well, it is the Easter season, and some of the prayers at a couple points in the mass are sung in Latin, but that’s about it.

“Well, I wish they’d stop it,” he snapped. “It’s divisive.” He then proceeded to go on and on about the Kyrie.

Which, of course, is in Greek.

Working as a deacon, I brush up against this sort of thing a lot, and it’s easy to draw the conclusion that the situation is beyond repair.

And yet, I continue to see reasons to hope. On a recent Monday night, I wandered past the meeting room in the rectory basement and saw that it was packed with thirty or so adults for Bible study. On any given Sunday, about 2,000 people fill the pews at my church for mass. They line up every weekday for confessions. They light candles and pray the rosary and bow devotedly before the Infant of Prague or St. Anthony or St. Jude, whose feet are almost always covered with tiny folded prayer petitions.

People turn out in droves for novenas to Padre Pio and St. Jean Vianney, and they fill every seat on a Saturday night in spring for the three hours of the Easter Vigil. They come for ashes, and palms, and the blessing of the throats, and they crowd the pews during Lent to pray the Stations of the Cross on a succession of cold Friday nights.

But why?

I have some ideas on that.  Check out the rest.

  • Klaire

    Dcn. Greg this is an awesome piece, and God Bless you for your joyfyul hope and excellent teaching!

    I couldn’t agree more, people are not only hungry, they are STARVED! Our new priest offered adult catechesis, and was amazed at the turnout (filled the school gym). It got so big, he had to add on an extra day! One of things he does, which I think is part of why the crowds keep getting bigger, is he takes the time before each class to answer any and all questions. For the shy types, he even allows write in questions. I have personally watched in awe as people begin to understand “why” the church teaches what it does.

    Lastly I will say from my own experience of not learning the faith until my 40′s, I had EVERY advantage, but chose NOT to “tune in.” From first hand experience, I can tell ya that when one is “turned out”, nothing gets through. It was years after JPII’s visit to Los Angeles, where I was living at the time, that I even realized that he had been in town, which of course, continues to haunt me to this day.

    The upside to it all, I too KNOW there is hope, as I have been there, and now I truly love the faith and have a insatiable desire to learn more of it each passing day. There is also no doubt that I came to that hunger (and grace of course) from the many prayers of those who prayed for conversions, starting of course with my parents and siblings.

    My daily prayer lives on “For the salvation of souls and conversions”, inspired by St. Maria Faustina.

  • Deacon Norb

    Deacon Greg:

    Been in education all my life and I was convinced early on that the best students were those who really wanted to be there.

    Very bright traditional-aged college students from your classic Catholic college/university are impossible to teach — they really do not want to be there at all but Mommy and Daddy say so and they are paying the bills.

    Non-traditional-aged college students — mostly found in community colleges — are hungry for everything you say. They may have been short-changed in their secondary school, but get out of their way in the community college classroom. Their enthusiasm and raw desire to learn will mow you down. The have a solid base of “affective virtue.”

    That “affective virtue” is contagious and it has to be caught from either another student or a teacher. RCIA candidates, hopefully, catch that “affective virtue” from their sponsors — if their sponsors are happy being Catholic, then they will be as well.

    What I am finding now is that some of the “Lost Generation,” those who went through parish grade schools and parochial high schools and academies from 1965 to 1975 or so, are starting to return to their religious roots. When they return, however, they ask something like: “Here is where we are at now; that is where we were back then; but how, in God’s name, did we get from there to here?”

    I still do a lot of parish-based programs all around our area. This “Lost Generation” group is very hungry and attend such programs in droves — providing the pastor gives his complete and enthusiastic support. That support has to include his announcing the program from the pulpit (there are still those who will not do anything religious unless their priest/pastors talks about it) and his ownconsistent attendance.

    Some rime back, I did a program on “The Oral Roots of Sacred Scripture” in a parish about twenty miles away. Over 150 in the audience including the pastor who listened attentively to everything I said. I did a similar program in a different parish on “the Life and Times of Saint Paul.” About 30 in the audience (in a parish of over 4,000) and the priest/pastor was not there. I really do not know whether he gave any sales pitch on it from the pulpit but — knowing the priest/pastor — I doubt it.

    Desire is the key to learning.


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