Christianity and Frog Boiling

Time and again in dealing with non-Catholics they will smile and say, “You know it really doesn’t matter what denomination you are. All that really matters is how much you love Jesus!” If I don’t have the time to engage in a discussion on the matter I will usually smile back and say something like non committal like, “What a comforting thought!” or “That’s certainly what many people think!”

Riding up through the hills of uppper South Carolina you can’t help but notice the huge number of churches. Every mile or so there’s another one: Pebble Creek Baptist, Maranatha Church, Heritage Church, New Spring, Rocky Rill Baptist, Beaver Run Baptist, Calvary Baptist, Assembly of God, Church of God, Disciples of Christ, Christian Disciples…the names and numbers are bewildering and ever multiplying.

It’s the Protestant principle run riot. The irony is that while the non-Catholics say, “It doesn’t really matter what church you belong to” they seem to think it pretty important to keep breaking up with one church to go and start another one. If it doesn’t matter what church you go to why not go to the one on the nearest corner?  The second problem with this commonly held view is that it only takes a short jump from “It doesn’t matter what church you go to” to “Well it doesn’t really matter if you go to church at all.”

Indeed, in a conversation with some good non Catholic folks not long ago they said, “Our teenaged daughter tells us that she doesn’t want to go to church and doesn’t need to go to church because she already has a relationship with Jesus in her heart.” They didn’t have an answer for her, and of course cannot have an answer because according to the Protestant theology they follow there is no such thing as ecclesiology and their daughter is right.

The only thing that remains, therefore, for non Catholic Christians is to make church attractive to people. If they don’t have to go to church, then they should want to go to church and the only way to make people want to go to church is to offer something they want. So we find that the non-Catholic Churches are extremely competitive. They offer a vast range of services and pastoral care and ‘outreach opportunities’. Now, there’s not problem with that necessarily excepet that what results is the commercialization of Christianity.

The temptation is there to water down the gospel, keep people happy and neve challenge them. The worship becomes more and more entertainment oriented. Sentimentality sweeps over. The people want a ‘feel good’ experience and the pastors do everything they can to provide that lest the consumers get tired of what’s on offer and shop around for something they like better.

So Christianity adapts to the culture. We live in America the big consumer culture reigns so we make religion another product. Of course this is the illness affecting American Catholicism as well. Catholics church shop as much as anyone else does. They travel for the Latin Mass or they travel for the hip hop Mass. It’s the same principle. They swap parishes because Fr Folkmass does a groovy form of liturgy which ‘really appeals to the kids’ or they emigrate to Mgr. Maniple because his solemn high pontifical Missa Magnificant is ‘what our family really needs.’

The final tragedy about church shopping is that eventually everyone involved succumbs to what is called ‘theological drift’ or ‘theological death by Chinese water torture’ or ‘how to boil a living frog Christianity.’ You know the old story that you put a frog in a pot of cold water and he swims happily, you increase the temperature slowly and he boils to death never realizing that it’s getting hot in there. Same thing with the commercialization of Christianity.

Bit by bit the gospel is watered down. Entertainment prevails. Wishy washy feel good sermons predominate. No one does anything to offend the customer, everybody is kept comfortable, and consequently the religion itself is transformed. The radical cutting edge of the faith is dulled and the faithful keep on trotting along to what has become something other than real Christianity–all the time still believing that it is the real thing. But it’s not. It’s just as fake as the rest of plastic America. What should be Christianity has become a bland blend of sentimentality, spirituality and ‘community spirit.’ Christ the Tiger has had his teeth pulled and Aslan has been tamed.

And the devil is real happy.

  • Wine in the Water

    "You know it really doesn't matter what denomination you are. All that really matters is how much you love Jesus!"The two statements are incompatible, and that is usually my response. If it really matters how much you love Jesus, then it does matter what "denomination" you are. It is at church that we learn who Jesus is and what He expects of us. How can we really claim to love Jesus if we don't think it matters what it means to follow His commandments or if we don't think it matters what His character is? If we really love Jesus, then we will yearn to know Him more and more, we will yearn to follow Him and obey Him. If we truly love Him, then leaving any aspect of Him unknown when we can know it is unthinkable.But that's only if we really love Him.

  • Whimsy

    Thank you for addressing Catholics church shopping.It's a plague in the Catholic homeschool community.

  • cricket

    I think you need to put a better argument against 'church shopping' by those who are fleeing the very watering down you're complaining about if you're going to say the person who travels to the Latin Mass is equivalent to the person who travels to the Hip-hop Mass. Either that or back down from the position that 'church shopping' is always wrong in itself and not sometimes a valid response to a deeper wrong.

  • Just another mad Catholic

    Personally Father I don't want to have to travel 160 miles each Sunday for my Latin Mass but until last Sunday the TLM was not availiable locally. Also its not just asthetics; the FSSP are famed for their great preaching.

  • Kristyn

    So true… we were surprised when we came into the Catholic church that many people do not just go to a parish, they visit around routinely. People suppose it is because of our protestant roots that we are committed to one parish. It's kind of funny… we were so experienced in the church hopping/shopping that we don't want anything to do with it now. I agree with the above poster… it is extremely common among the home schoolers. It is a shame because it is setting an example for those kids' futures. They will be extremely well catechized— that's part of why we do what we do— but how will it benefit the church if they never learn to put roots down? :(

  • Cody

    Historically, a lay Catholic required permission from the priest nearest to their house to attend Mass or participate in Reconcilliation with another priest. However, I'm not certain as to how well this was enforced considering there are also accounts of people running between churches to watch multiple elevations.

  • Brian

    Father,That's not really a fair assessment of people who travel to attend Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I travel every Sunday about 60 miles round trip to attend this Mass. It is not about Church shopping. It is about encountering mystery and not Protestant worship in a Catholic Church. I left Protestantism to be fully Catholic. Often at Ordinary Form Masses it is as though I never left, but in the Extraordinary Form I am never in doubt.So I don't seek to be entertained at Mass. I seek to NOT be entertained, and to clearly worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth.

  • Tito Edwards

    Father that is a very poor comparison between the Latin Mass and the flip-doodle Mass.I'm deeply disappointed that you are comparing people yearning for reverence and piety in the liturgy for those that want to be "entertained".Shame on you.

  • Wine in the Water

    In the good Fr.'s defense, I have met many, many people who attend the EF on aesthetic grounds. They like the smells and bells, they like the vestments, they like the architecture. They are church shopping, and in that regard they are no different than someone looking for a hip-hop mass, or a guitar mass. They should be straight up about it, if that is where they are, where they need a certain aesthetic expression of the liturgy for their spiritual nourishment, that is where they are.For those attending an EF liturgy out of a desire for solid Catholic liturgy, that is another matter. I don't think it is fair to call someone a "Church shopper" when they are simply seeking a Catholic parish that is fully Catholic. But if person holds that the *only* way to get solid Catholic liturgy is to attend the EF, then they are either heterodox or aesthetes.

  • cy

    Hi Father -Adding to the comments of others…Father, what do we do — we whose parish is so lackluster that it conveys the antithesis of solemnity (and when we have been 'round and 'round with our pastor to no avail)? I'm talking mini-skirted "ministers of the eucharist", a social atmosphere where no quiet can be found, a treatment of the Holy Eucharist as a symbol or as something which serves the community, versus the other way around.What if we have children of our own watching (being formed)? Are we limited to 'window shopping'?A great fan of yours,Cy

  • Tito Edwards

    Wine in the Water,Unfortunately you are not Father Longenecker.Father did not make that distinction at all in his post.He should be ashamed of himself to denigrate those that need their souls fed by good solid shepherds.Instead he soils his own reputation to mock us who are thirsty for truth.

  • Julie

    Thank you Father.Obedience is a virtue, and one I feel rather strongly about if only because it is not something I excel at and therefore the area that feels especially sacrificial. I am registered in my local neighborhood, nuthin' much Novus Ordo parish; I'm on the lector schedule, I help plan events, I've got a full set of envelopes and I use them.I go for a Latin mass (ordinary or extraordinary) at another church as often as I can, which generally means two Masses to the Sabbath — one Saturday vigil and one Sunday morning. I love the Latin masses of either variety a great deal, and when I first realized that they were fairly accessible, I felt torn over just this church-shopping issue. I don't know that I feel entirely at peace with my compromise still.

  • Tim H.

    A Methodist Church near me advertises "A real God for real people" on the side of their van. Another non-denominational church near me was called "Greater Works Ministry" until they changed their name to "Greater Works Deliverance Ministry" and adopted the marketing phrase "We teach Jesus". I often wonder exactly what they teach to Jesus.One of my favorites is a sign at the exit of the local McDonalds with the marketing slogan, "Where church meets rock and roll". I'll be that some Benedictine monks are rolling in their graves over that one. Grace is when things are going good for you. Strong emotional experiences are now proof of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I really think the Catholic Church should adopt the song "More than a feeling" by the 80's band Boston as our theme song.More than a feeling… I think you're dreaming, it's more than a feeling… -Tim-

  • cy

    Dear Father,I thought of another way to express my query which may be better… You opened with, "It doesn't matter what church…"Should we have the mentality: "It doesn't matter how bad the liturgy is, so long as I know and love Christ in the Sacrament" ?

  • ben

    I learned a new phrase last week: "Studied Ambiguity". It pretty much sums up a lot of the homilies I've heard over the years. I can't really complain that they are wishy-washy, because they could be taken almost any way: as a fire-breathing, tub-thumping catechism, or as a feel-good sweet-nothing. Fr Corapi and Fr McBrien could both nod in approval of this nonsense depending on what biases they brought in with them.I tried it out myself on an unsuspecting person, and it's actually quite difficult to pull off for more than a minute or two. To do it day after day in 7-minute chunks requires a lot of skill. I guess that's why the politicians pay themselves so well.

  • Fr Longenecker

    Traddy Church shopper: "But with us its different! We're going to a trad parish because that is the way worship really ought to be!"Trendy Church Shopper: "But with us its different! We're going to a trendy parish because that is the way worship really ought to be!"

  • Tito Edwards

    Wow.I am stunned.

  • The DH

    Those who travel to another parish because they don't care for their own contribute directly to the watering down of Catholicism. It's the same in Protestant churches – when the traditionalists leave the abandoned church gets more liberal.Your duty is to stay local and stand firm. It's only hopeless if you lose hope.

  • Steve

    Father, you make the quite valid point that Protestants wind up "church shopping" because the churches seek to differentiate themselves. They offer something new, unique or marketable at each church, and hope that in so doing they will lure followers their way.What has always been the Catholic antidote to such migrations was the universality of liturgy. Good priests and bad priests alike offered Masses that were pretty similar. The rubrics essentially made them slaves to the gestures of the altar. Certainly, there were good preachers and bad, good music and bad, but it was far less common in the days before liturgical improvisation became commonplace to have to brace yourself before entering a new parish, wondering what new and wondrous irreverence (or worse still, heresy or sacrilege) they'd dream up.When priests took it upon themselves – in the "spirit of Vatican II" – to customize their liturgies, they created a market for parish shopping. It became, as one bishop a friend of mine heard describe the role of homilists, about the "entertainment and titillation of the faithful – sort of like a liturgical Johnny Carson."As a priest, you may not fully appreciate being subjected to the whims of the pastor of whatever parish is your canonical home, but for the lay faithful, it's an every day battle. The only power we have (since the Church is truly not a democracy) is to vote with our feet, and our tithing. I started attending the Extraordinary Form when it was still an indult, back in 2004. When we found a parish, we tried to stick with it, and that meant suffering through some terrible music and even worse preaching. There have been pastors I've genuinely not cared for, but I didn't up an flee, provided they offered a reverent Mass that didn't cause scandal. If you'd like to put a stop to "church shopping," I'd humbly ask that you encourage your brother priests to cling to orthodoxy and reverence. Give the people substance and they will not turn away.

  • Tito Edwards

    Father Longenecker,I apologize for my terse response and I retract my "shame on you" comment.I still disagree with your argument but please accept my sincere apologies.

  • Scott W

    Father,You are better than your snide response in the "comments" section–that is why hordes of us come here to read your thoughts. If you want to be snide to "Tito", than he probably deserves it. But others have given compelling reasons that you ignore. I attend a TLM about once a month because I know three things: the homily will be orthodox, the service will be reverent, and I won't have to be reminded for one day out of the month that most Catholics ignore the teachings of the Church (their bumperstickers make this evident).TLM parishes are guarantees of the one, true faith. It goes far beyond aesthetics.

  • Aaron

    Normally, I'd agree 100% with Fr. Longenecker, but not this time. I rejected the urge to change parishes for 8 years, on the grounds that only Protestants church-hop. Catholics don't…nor should they need to.There is a difference. Catholics believe certain things about the Mass and their Church that Protestants don't. It is expected that different Protestant ministers will teach different things (sometimes even different Gospels!). It is likewise expected that different Catholic priests will teach essentially the same faith. But what if that is not what is happening? What if the pastor is teaching things that blatantly contradict Holy Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church? What if that same pastor refuses to listen to you because you are just an unlearned layman, while he studies "theology" 5 hours a day? What if he exhibits and encourages the attitude at Mass that Mass is about us, not God, and that the Eucharist is not really all that special. What if, in short, your pastor isn't Catholic?How do you look after the spiritual well-being of your family? How do you ensure that your children don't grow to question Church authority, but to trust it (especially in matters of faith and morals)? How do you ensure that your children are actually receiving the LORD in the Eucharist, and not some unleavened bread? Are not these issues important?This is not a question of TLM or Novus Ordo. This is a question of the salvation of souls. As a husband and father, it is my duty to, at the least, put my wife and kids in a situation where their souls are being fed by the Word and the Word-made-Flesh, not by progessivist, man-made "theology".However, this is not to say that a few minor liturgical abuses, or an over abundance of EMHC, or extremely sappy me-first "hymns", or vanilla preaching should cause us to look elsewhere. These are not ideal, but hey no parish is perfect…ever. In some cases, staying put will actively cause the parish to change. You example may cause others who feel the same way to make themselves known. This is not always the case.

  • opedipus

    Yea, Father, I think you need to distinguish here. I think there is a serious difference between those who are looking for what they want, and those who are looking for the teaching of the Catholic Church. This is not only found in TLM parishes, and I think some trad's are church-shoppy, but there is nothing to be ashamed of in seeking out a parish where father says the black and does the red, and teaches from the readings. We all have liturgical/doctrinal horror stories, and some faithful can't in good conscience be a part of a parish that wouldn't make the cut if the CDW rolled through town.

  • Robert

    "You know it really doesn't matter what denomination you are. All that really matters is how much you love Jesus!"Father, whenever I hear this I think "which Jesus are you talking about"?Oprah's Buddhist Jesus? The Mormon Arian Jesus? The Jesus Seminar "Socrates V2.0" Jesus? The Joel Olsteen Magic Genie Jesus? The Presbyterian Jesus who predestines people to hell? The Pentecostal Jesus died to make you dance with the spirit? The Quaker, Jesus is a warm feeling inside your heart that really doesn't want to trouble you with his issues? Or the "whatever I believe is important, I'll call Jesus" of the Unitarian Universalists. Your own personal Jesus ready to justify whatever you need him to.

  • KT

    The flip side of the protestant problem is the very real Catholic problem of a local Church that offers absolutely zero support for actually putting your faith in God, or having a personal relationship with him, or discovering him in Scripture. That's real too.I'm a committed and convinced Catholic with a bent for ecumenism, and when I talk to people who left the Church it revolves around these issues–they did not come to know Jesus in the Catholic Church, and some Protestant helped them to encounter Christ, so they went to the place where people actually seemed to have a fruitful relationship with God. We ought to be able to compete with that, for Christ's sake, because we have CHRIST right in the Church!! We have Christ truly present at every Mass! Why is it that most anywhere in the world, most Catholics don't get it??(I live in Ireland.)

  • Bender

    Wow. So many protestant-minded trads do protest too much methinks.To be "fully Catholic" means to be in full communion with the entire Catholic Church, not one faction, not one group, but the entire Catholic Church. To be "fully Catholic" means to worship with, and want to worship with, all of your fellow Catholics, to rejoice to be in their presence with love for the Lord.Attitudes that think that one form of the liturgy is objectively better or superior than another is contrary to the unity of the faith, contrary to the communion of the Church, contrary to that charity that seeks to love others, rather than that self-centered desire to please yourself.

  • Little Black Sambo

    There seems to be a certain dislike of freedom in some of these comments. People attach themselves to whichever parish they jolly well choose, and it is not for us to examine their motives.

  • flyingvic

    I must admit to being puzzled here.There are Protestants, apparently, moving from church to church because they have no ecclesiology? And there are Catholics, apparently, moving from church to church who (by implication at least) DO have an ecclesiology?A relationship with Jesus 'in the heart' is of no value unless it includes membership of the church? And membership of the church is of ultimate value even if there is no relationship with Jesus 'in the heart'?Protestants are to be castigated and patronised for having lots of churches to choose between while Catholics are to be gently chided for church-shopping 'as much as anyone else does'?Do I detect just a whiff of double standards here?

  • RJ

    The important question is: what is the motivation? Is a person moving because they are looking to make themselves feel good (probably difficult to say for sure sometimes) or to avoid a clear and present danger to their salvation? I don't think that would be a double standard.

  • don

    I think people should have some sort of attachment to their parish and with its members. That was how it used to be in old times. But today people live in different places in their lifetime and most of them in urban areas where you can find more than one Catholic church in your place. So the temptation to go to another church that is not your church is high. I think that some people who choose the EF over the OF have some reasons in their local perspective. But one should go to the Parish church to which one belongs, every Sunday. When I was in my home country that was the rule. Obedience is better than sacrifice. And we should pray for our Parish priests, so that they may deliver homilies which we are in need of and that their celebration of the Eucharist really befits the reality.

  • RJ

    I agree with you, don.

  • PlainCatholic

    For the parents who had the daughter saying she had Jesus in her heart and did not need to go to church:Ask her if it is enough to have her boyfriend in her heart only and have him live 5000 miles away with no letters or text messages?Teens need constant contact with their friends and they understand that. If Jesus is their friend and the love of their life, then they should be in constant contact through fellowship of like-minded believers who also love him. The best way to deal with teen snark is to use the examples from their own experiences to make the point.

  • Mater

    Scott W said, "TLM parishes are guarantees of the one, true faith. It goes far beyond aesthetics." WOW! I had no idea that the TLM (do you mean he Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite?) was imbued with infallibility! Not only the Mass, but the whole parish!!!!!! Fr. Longnecker has certainly hit a tender nerve here!

  • Al

    Fr. Longenecker,I too am deeply disappointed that you have chosen to lump those of us with "legitimate aspirations", as the Holy Father called it, for the TLM together with all the cafeteria Catholics who only want a church that welcomes and affirms them in their sin and error. I drive an hour to attend the TLM because it is the only place in my diocese where I am guaranteed an unambiguously Catholic liturgy free from liturgical abuse, heretical preaching, heretical songs, irreverence towards the Blessed Sacrament, immodestly-dressed women in both the pews and the sanctuary, etc. I do this to preserve my own faith and avoid occasions of sin, not for any aesthetic reasons. In fact, this particular TLM parish has awful music and some really cheesy artwork. I go there anyway because I'm starved for the fullness of the Catholic faith, and other parishes simply don't have it.And it's not like I didn't give my local parish a chance; I went to Mass there for nine years and did all I could to raise the standards of orthodoxy and reverence, but it was completely hopeless with the liberal priests and "lay ministers" who run the show there. I normally love reading your blog posts, but this one was downright insulting.

  • Scott W

    Sigh. Blog discussions are tiresome as respondents invariably ignore your central point, or uncharitably distort it. @Bender: for many of us who enjoy TLM parishes, the key reason is NOT aesthetics or liturgy-preference, but in having a priest and congregation who take the Eucharist seriously, and honor/preach the deposit of faith. I live in Portland, OR–you know, the land that forgot God?–great Novus Ordo parishes do exist in Virginia and elsewhere, but are uncommon here. @Mater: Nice red herring and non sequitor. The fact that TLM parishes earnestly attempt to understand, respect and observe the deposit of the faith, does in no way imply that they are infallible in their execution. Sorry that I did not explicitly mention in my short post that TLM parishes are not infallible in their daily presentation of the "one, true faith" and that only Jesus was (note: the pope is only infallible ex cathedra). But I thought a Christian would know such a fact was obvious, and thus have the charity to assume a fellow Christian would likewise implicitly recognize this fact. But alas. And so next time I will write a five page post so as to leave no neglected or hidden premises, and I'm sure no one will then uncharitably assume I'm making some foolish assumptions (sarcasm).Finally, if you think most Novus Ordo parishes in the West, earnestly attempt to "understand, respect and observe" the deposit of the faith, then we simply have no common ground on which to dialogue.

  • Scott W

    @FatherLet me cut to the real source of friction here. Father enjoys the role of Socrates: playing the gadfly who periodically stings the giant slumbering horse. This is a vital role for priests in my opinion. Unfortunately in this case, TLMers are not a "giant slumbering horse" a la Athens, but an embattled but increasingly growing minority who take seriously the ideal of being a "fool for Christ". Whereas the real "horse" is your average lukewarm parish in the West–it is giant, it is smug, it is mostly asleep, and would squirm mightily if you asked it to be a "fool for Christ". Now, Father rightly notices that the internet is awash with smug traddies who desperately need to be stung out of their monarchist sympathies, liturgical fastidiousness, etc. I agree, and I follow a perusal of Rorate Caeli with a strong dose of whiskey. However, in this blog post, normally wise Father kind of went off the deep end, assumed a strawman, grouped all TLMers together, forgot that many NO parishes are doctrinally heterodox, etc. In short, in order to justifiably sting a handful of unbearable traddies, he grouped all TLMers together, and ignored the real sick horse in the room: most Novus Ordo parishes in the West. Peace

  • RJ

    Scott, you refer to "most Novus Ordo parishes in the West". That sounds like the broadest brush I have encountered in this controversy.

  • cy

    Dear RJ,Come visit the west then. You can measure the brush for yourself. Over the years my California-based family has been treated to:- Ex-"nun" giving homily about "inclusion"- Japanese bow in place of the sign of the Peace of Christ- Deacon homilist explaining that the apostles walked away from Jesus not because of his command to "eat his flesh and drink his blood" (according to the Bread of Life discourse in the Gospel reading) but because they were 'freaked out' about his walking on water- "Liturgical dance"- Re-written Eucharistic prayers- Priest homilist saying that "the Vatican says people should be married before living together but I know many couples with a strong bond of love which surpasses married people" – A "Lenten duty" to "fight homophobia"- Refusal of the receipt of communion on the tongueI sure hope Father replies to these comments and above. We'd really like some genuine guidance about what to do. Personally I am not a so-called "traddie" — just a father and a husband seeking to get my family and me to heaven in the "sure boat."

  • Scott W

    @RJ,Let's make it concrete: In most NO parishes in the US, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, etc., do the lay faithful regularly hear from the priest at mass, and amongst each other in approximate unanimity at bible study etc., the reality of original sin, demonic activity and life as spiritual warfare, the importance of regular confession, the sacredness/worthy reception of the Eucharist,the place of beauty in understanding God and his Church, the crucial role of the sacraments, the sure norm of the Deposit of the Faith, the importance of penance, fasting, chastity, and obedience, the evils of abortion, contraception, pre-marital sex, gay copulation, and pornography.I'm sure I left some things out. And note by happy contrast, such parishes usually do an excellent job of warning against bigotry, materialism, excessive individualism, elitism, environmental destruction, reducing persons to some utility function, etc. But they often evade the whole core of the Christian message: continually battling the world, the flesh and the devil to become like Christ through grace and so reap the benefits of his atonement. They mention parts, but not the whole. Finally, social science would not exist if researchers could not make broad generalizations in their quantitative and qualitative analysis. As long as they can make such generalizations concrete (as I did above), then there is no issue. So your objection is a red herring. Peace.

  • PJ

    I Agree with Al and some others who commented in the same vein. Please answer us who have ask you Father, what can we do? I am in such sympathy with those who have children, how can you expose them to this each week without danger of damage to them? I used to go to a Latin Mass when I could, but cannot afford to travel now. In my local parish it has been this way for years, all mostly women running the church in a worldly way and a priest that is mostly absent. I saw when they changed priests that even though he wanted to change some things his hands were tied by the “parishioners in charge for years” not giving an inch of power and control. The real fact is no matter how long the tradition lovers stay, the doors to change are sealed. We are considered weird, not them! What ARE we to do but pray and sacrifice when week after week we must attend masses that are subject to all the abuses others have mentioned? Everyone on the alter, everyone handling the Sacred Vessels, irreverence, liturgy words changed, extremely immodest and disrespectful clothing. How can you relax and enjoy what should be a beautiful experience that brings you closer to Jesus? Even when you go into mass determined to maintain a calm, peaceful and forgiving heart of the abuses you know you will see and hear, you still come out sad and upset for some new abuse that insults the Lord and His goodness. It is like daggers to my heart! Every week mourning for what has been lost. For me, I feel maybe what Jesus Himself might have felt when he lashed the sellers for defiling the temple. But I am not Jesus, I cannot lash. But I can and do stand beside Mary and Veronica and all those who loved Jesus when He was carrying His cross through the streets before His crucifixion, bloodied and weak, people spitting on Him, taunting Him, kicking Him, pushing Him, beating Him, because that is exactly what is happening at these masses. I see myself as a bystander who must witness this abuse in silence, agony and tears. But Father, I would RATHER NOT have to do this each week! How can we change things in this super secularized culture? To echo one commenter, should we feel ashamed to seek out a holy and reverent mass worthy of our Precious Lord?? PLEASE give us all who have ask, your answers!!!!

  • David

    The Traditional Latin Mass is not etertainment. Catholics have every right to seek out the Mass of all time.

  • Patricia

    I had to move out of state…to the mid west in order to find people who were having lots and lots of children and attending the Latin Mass…St. Francis de Sales in South St. Louis, MO County.My week all of a sudden started going very, very well. Not perfect, but I had the strength and courage and confidence to live my Catholic beliefs because I felt I was fed by God through every Mass I participated in. The Reverence, the peace, the Quiet, from every single person of every single age.In this St. Louis Archdiocese there are those Catholic Churches who have liturgical dancing and Oh where, oh where has the Tabernacle gone…Oh where, oh where can it be?It is not my issue any longer. I am home….Patricia, St. Louis, MO

  • Patricia

    I finally moved out-of-state to the mid-west where I found families with lots and lots of children, lots of pregnant women, and the reverence and love of God that is making my week go very, very well. I have the confidence, the courage and the strength to live out my Catholic faith in the world.I found the Catholic Church that I joined 25 years ago. It was worth waiting for! Patricia in St. Louis, MO

  • Simon

    "If it doesn't matter what church you go to why not go to the one on the nearest corner?"Because they're very concerned about being "fed," and although it doesn't make much difference for their eternal soul which church they attend (as long as it isn't Catholic!), it makes a difference to their comfort in the here and now.Are we so different, by the way? I could justify belonging to any of five parishes: either of the downtown parishes, the two parishes more-or-less equidistant from my house, or the nearest parish to my office. And although I ended up at the one I'm at by "accident" (coincidences being God's way of remaining anonymous, quoth House), had I found the preaching dull, which it happily was not, I could just as well—without consequence for my salvation but with some consequences for my immediate comfort—have gone to one of the other three parishes for the same Mass but better preaching.

  • Yolanda

    We have been attending a Dominican parish in PDX, OR for the past 20 years – it is a huge sacrifice to drive 20 to 30 minutes every Sunday. Coincidentally, my husband's family had attended this church since its founding – we didn't know this at the time. When we started attending, the church was very small and was subsequentally renovated. It is nice but not outstanding. But, it is reverant, orthodox and I learned more in my time there than I did growing up in the Pacific NW, attending the many churches of the towns we lived in.We called ourselves Winebago Catholics – have car, will travel. But, we felt the guilt, too. We still struggle with this but the outcome for our family is that our grown children attend Mass on their own, regularly receive the sacrament of reconciliation and have a much better understanding of the faith than their counterparts from parochial school. The sad part for our family is that we aren't part of a local community – that is a HUGE cross to bear. Just this past summer, two young women from the Catholic school my kids attended spoke about their support for abortion, living together, having sex before marriage and the irrevelance of the Catholic Church. I was a confirmation sponsor for one of them and both were around our family alot. What made the difference? Was it the sacrifice of going so far for orthodox teaching? For a faithful Mass? Was it just our family? We were just "lucky"? We've got two more kids at home and are still driving them in to town for CCD (even with parochial school attendance). They have to learn how to live their faith, what it is and how to get to heaven. And, sadly, the teaching out here in the Pacific Northwest has to date been weak.

  • Brennan

    Father Longenecker, I thought the first 2/3 of the article was spot on. However must completely disagree with the last part. Equating people who travel to a traditional orthodox liturgy with people who travel to a folk rock Mass is ludicrous. It's like comparing one family who travels to a church that has solid, orthodox catechesis because they want their family to learn and stick with the Faith to a family who deliberately go to a parish where the catechesis is vague and insubstantial (even if not heretical). God bless.

  • The Catholic Sojourner

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  • The Catholic Sojourner

    I've heard Protestants extol the vitures of having various denominations to choose from, as if to have One Church is somehow a flaw – what upside down thinking is that?—toddhttp:\

  • Linda

    Quote: It only takes a short jump from “ it doesn’t matter what church you go to” to “ well it doesn’t really matter if you go to church at all.”Father, of course the next logical step after that might be “ it doesn’t really matter what you believe and do in life at all.” That would be nothing new and when you go back to the dawn of mankind, you actually find that this same attitude is at the heart of all the problems in the world. It strikes me that when God had made Adam and Eve, he went to ‘church’ with them possibly every day in the cool of the day. ( Gen 3:8 ) Imagine then walking around with him under a canopy of trees in the garden, talking about the things that God and people in his image and likeness would talk about. Talking about religion! What would the service have been like, with God himself presiding over it? Must have been a lively occasion and a real ‘feel good experience’, with the pastor doing everything he could to provide them with all they needed to enjoy that same extraordinary quality of life he had enjoyed for all eternity.Is it any surprise then that God told them it would be like ‘death’ if they received holy communion under a different tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Of course that different tree stood for offering something new to lure people away from God, offering them something ‘they wanted’ this kind of communion seemed pleasing to the eye and much to be desired. ( Gen 3:6 ) What’s missing though was the holy part, what’s missing was God, even though they were told that even God knew they would surely find life there too and it wouldn’t effect the essence of who they were, even going as far as to say that they would be like God. ( Gen 3:4 )Of course through it all they broke communion with God ( a life in common with him ). How else could it be, you can’t have communion with God and do things ‘you want’ which are totally contrary to him, thinking ‘it doesn’t matter’. Inevitably they didn’t turn up anymore at their next scheduled meeting with him……the congregation had gone……God called out “ Adam……where are you?’So, how would that reflect on church going today? Theirs was the church that was built on God himself. He had personally breathed life in them, but when they didn’t continue to live by his word, the succession of communion with him was discontinued. They had been denominated by God to be his very image and likeness, yet the serpent was able to take them away from him. So salvation is not determined by the religious group you belong to, no matter how good the credentials. The enemy of God is no respecter of denominations it seems, he will seek to make people stray from the word of God, regardless of what church they belong to, even today. The real matter is whether we live by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth, as Jesus said he did. In that respect, Catholic and protestant churches alike have a real responsibility to preach the word of God, as found in the bible, in such a way that people are drawn to God in a real relationship, where they get to know him more and more in their lives. God bless you,Linda

  • Linda

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  • Linda

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  • Linda

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  • Linda

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