Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Suicide of the Catholic Church- in microcosm

I attended the "Little Italy" church again this Sunday, since I wanted to go to their Christmas fair and possibly find some good deals on Christmas gifts. The 11AM Mass had about 70 people, all arranged in the "traditional Catholic seating pattern" I've described so many times. The large size of the church made it seem more sparsely attended than it actually was. The organist was a white-haired lady with a reedy voice who sat up in the choir loft. There was no choir. There was hardly any music, as that word is traditionally understood. Because of the horrible sound system in this church, I could not understand a single word she sang, or distinguish between the notes she played. It was a slurry of horrible, muffled noise that droned through the church, hymn after hymn. I didn't notice many people singing.

The celebrant was not the wunderkind pastor, who recently received this ridiculously fawning profile in the local rag, but a Filipino priest who is the curate. His English was better than that of most foreign priests, but he still neglected to speak as loudly as he needed to be heard through that awful sound system. His sermon was not inane, but merely banal. He spoke about how he had met a man who had suffered loss, but still remained hopeful and joyful. The priest said that we should look forward with great anticipation to the coming of Christ in this Christmas season, etc. Nothing stupid or offensive; merely forgettable. I'm surprised I remembered that much.

No, the highlight of this Mass was when the pastor arrived post-Communion to make a few announcements. Without even taking off his winter coat, he told us that he was eliminating the 11:00 Mass. With only 700 people coming to 5 weekend Masses, he felt that 5 Masses weren't justified. It is a humiliating fact that only 700 people- in such a large Italian Catholic area as Rosebank- come to Mass, but that's a completely separate issue. I agreed with the decision, if not his reasoning. I really don't see the need for a parish to have multiple Masses on Sunday, unless the number of people attending Mass exceeds the capacity of the church. It seemed to me like the proliferation of Sunday Masses began with some Vatican II mania for catering to "the people" and their ever-changing whims. Our schedules are not so tight on Sunday mornings that we need 4 different Masses to choose from. Unless a congregation is overflowing the church, we should have one Mass, where the entire parish can worship together, build community, and where the choir and priest can focus all their energies on 1 "performance", so to speak. However, my guess is that the pastor's decision was purely an accounting measure, with a bit of self-interest thrown in: less customers equal reduced services, which means less expense and more free time for him.

That impression was reinforced by his next announcement, that he was reducing the time for Saturday Confession, because of low attendance. It would now run from 4:00 to 4:30, instead of until the current 4:45 because, he explained, only a mere THREE PEOPLE usually come to avail themselves of the Sacrament. The tone with which he made this announcement betrayed no more emotion than if he were reciting the Bingo numbers.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. THIS was the spiritual leader of a community of souls?? If only 3 people are going to Confession on Saturdays, it is self evident that the people of that parish are sunk in unbelievable spiritual complacency and abysmal ignorance of their own Faith. And if their pastor's only response to such a disgraceful fact is to cut the Confession time by 15 minutes, then he is a man who is completely lacking in the even the most basic necessary mental or spiritual qualities of a priest, and should be relieved of his post for gross incompetence and deriliction of duty. I know that this pastor is relatively new, but I believe he has been there for over a year, and this is a reflection of his spiritual leadership. Such a revelation should be a fire bell in the night for any responsible pastor. I would think that a priest who was actually concerned about the souls of his flock would see the glaring need for a lot of sermonizing on the subject of sin, repentance and salvation, and a sustained and powerful effort to catechize, to evangelize and to win souls. But this pastor apparently is more concerned with his high flying diocesan career, his precious time and aesthetic fripperies, like purchasing $10,000 statues. But what else would one expect but bureacratic, placeholding sinecurism from someone whose clerical role models are the Dhimmi pastors Finn and Dorney?

After this joke of a Mass, I went to the school Christmas fair, where scowling parents tried to sell me $5 coffee mugs and hordes of ill-behaved tweens and teens chased each other around the gym.

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