A Golden Opportunity Missed

Today while Renee and I went to mass we were witnesses to an unfortunate,sad, but all too common place reality of the typical, Catholic Sunday Mass.
The scene was a familiar one with the following exceptions:

  • The church was packed to capacity, there were people standing all over the place, crowding even the foyer of the church, totaling about 400 
  • The church audience was very diverse encompassing all the different age spectrum's from young children to Senior adults.  
  • Today's gospel reading was very applicable to the universal struggles of its parishioners.  
 Seemed like the ideal environment for a priest to be celebrating mass right?  Well not exactly.

Despite these overwhelmingly favorable factors the priest somehow managed to sadly botch it up and was not able to deliver today's wonderful gospel message of perseverance.  Instead what we got was a pathetic, whimpering homily about how the parish needed to add another monetary collection to the two other existing ones.  What made matters even worse was the fact that there was not even a mention of today's gospel message of prayer persistence and hope in the first place.

The agonizing spiritually bereft sermon went on for about 10 minutes leaving the entire church population hungry.  The  priest missed a golden opportunity, an opportunity to speak about one of Christianity's most enduring virtues, hope.  Instead of speaking about how God wants us all to be persevering in our requests of him, he spoke about well let's see...money; the exact thing in which most people hate the church for.   Why couldn't it be both?  Dive into the beauty of today's readings for a few minutes and then for another few minutes - make the "we need more money "pitch.
I was so affected by this - not in a judging the priest way - but in a righteously indignant way.  It unfortunately jaded  the balance of my mass experience.   It is very hard when you  recognize that you are blessed to possess a diamond (Our Catholic faith)  and others can so quickly cheapen the value of that diamond by treating it like it's a dollar store plastic ruby.

It is no small wonder why so many people are leaving the Catholic Church.  For a second I even entertained the option of leaving the Catholic Church.  Why belong to something that is so inherently mediocre?  I felt bad for all the people sitting in the pews, hanging on to the hope that they might hear  something of spiritual worth; something that would ease their sufferings. I also felt bad for the wives that probably had to forcefully pry their husband's away from watching their football games to bring them to mass. For what?  To hear some priest ask for more money, money that they probably did not have in the first place? Unfortunately this unhealthy "money first" mindset is altogether too common in our church today.

I thought to myself; what if these same people were transported 2,000 years back?  What if these same people went up some hilltop in Judea with eager expectations to hear the preachings of Jesus or the disciples. What if what they got instead was a plea to give their money for the well being of Jesus and his ministry efforts, without hearing Jesus' message first?  Just imagine if the early church had this same attitude of unbalanced priorities as I witnessed in today's mass?  Would Christianity even exist today? 

I understand fully well that the church needs money to survive in its day to day operations. I have no problem with legitimate financial needs. My problem lies with the mindset that  expects everything from the parishioners, while providing little in return.   St. Paul writes about how preachers must avoid this damaging tendency as he says,

"Preach the Word, be urgent, in season out of season, convince, rebuke, exhort, be unfailing in patience, and in teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths." 2 Timothy 4: 2-4

The great tragedy today is that 400 people left the church spiritually under nourished. Of course I am not dismissing the intensity of the Blessed Sacrament and Liturgy of the Word, but it was incumbent upon the priest; the shepherd of that parish flock( that he has for a precious 45 minutes) to minister,  to extol, to inspire, and to lead.  It is my hope and prayer that his poor choice today won't lead anyone away from the church.  If this happens it would be tragic; another golden opportunity missed.

Comments

  1. "It is very hard when you recognize that you are blessed to possess a diamond (Our Catholic faith) and others can so quickly cheapen the value of that diamond by treating it like it's a dollar store plastic ruby."

    I have to totally agree with you here, Marco. I am a convert to the Catholic faith after being a lifetime Protestant of 47 years. The Eucharist drew me to the church and that with finally being able to make sense of so many scriptures which just didn't jive with my faith tradition.

    BUT I have to say on a whole the homilies in most Catholic churches are dismal at best. Priests are either so Orthodox that they are afraid to say one "the" or "and" out of place,
    as if God must always be scripted. Or they are so totally liberal that the word of God is no where to be found in their homilies.

    To me the reality of Christ in the sacrament of the altar is just overwhelming, but why doesn't the rest of the church seem to be in awe as I have become? So many Catholics know little to nothing of what they believe, it is so sad. Many go week after week to Mass and remain unchanged. What has happened to the Holy Spirit?

    It seems like the priest is more interested in raising money to build his next addition and paying off the mortgage than spreading the kingdom. So many people starving spiritually speaking and they think their yearly RCIA is the answer. We need to launch out into deeper waters as the Lord calls us not only to Mass but a daily walk with him.

    I have much to learn about the Church but I continue to pray and believe that it will someday rise again and be the talk of the world.

    I look forward to your posts.

    In Christ,

    Brother Bob

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