Frustrated: Why doesn't our clergy get it?!


#1

It’s sad but true, but the majority of people who call themselves “Catholic” don’t regularly attend Sunday mass, and, of those that do, that’s probably the only hour a week they’ll ever spend on church property (unless there’s a wedding or funeral to go to).

My question is: Why don’t priests and deacons use the homily more for serious apologetics? Cut out the Mr. Rogers homilies and tell people WHAT the church teaches, and WHY. Tell them that the Catholic Church is not just some personal preference and just one of “many ways to get to God.” We are the fullness of faith – THE church founded by Jesus! Grow a backbone and start preaching the truth!

And, I’m sorry, but having Bible studies or apologetics classes on weekday nights won’t cut it. Most of the church members will never go to those things and those who do are probably pretty strong in their Catholicism already anyway. The homily is pretty much the only chance our priests and deacons will get a chance to instruct most Catholics.

Thank God for sites like Catholic Answers and EWTN. Otherwise, I probably would have, in my ignorance, abandoned the faith years ago in search of a more “entertaining” protestant church, or, worse of all, no church at all.

I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my blunt tone, but lately the state of our church has gotten me really down.


#2

Thank you for your post, Dan.

It’s sad but true, but the majority of people who call themselves “Catholic” don’t regularly attend Sunday mass, and, of those that do, that’s probably the only hour a week they’ll ever spend on church property (unless there’s a wedding or funeral to go to).

It’s not just Catholicism. I’ve known other Christians(?) who refer to themselves as Baptist, even if they don’t go to church and don’t believe in what Christianity presents. There unfortunately is the mindset that religion concerns what you’re born into, sort of like ethnic background.

I don’t know much about the state of Protestant churches, but yes, there is, IMHO, the problem in Catholicism of those who go to church on Sunday but don’t give a whit about God the rest of the week. I’ve seen it, to more or less a degree, in my life. But I don’t think it’s specific of Catholicism, and it probably can be found in Protestant denominations as well.

My question is: Why don’t priests and deacons use the homily more for serious apologetics? Cut out the Mr. Rogers homilies and tell people WHAT the church teaches, and WHY. Tell them that the Catholic Church is not just some personal preference and just one of “many ways to get to God.” We are the fullness of faith – THE church founded by Jesus! Grow a backbone and start preaching the truth!

It depends on the priest. I imagine PC plays a big part, unfortunately. I mean, most priests see that their congregation is not going to confession, not coming dressed to church properly, and so on. But with so much laxity, there’s only so much they can do. I’ve seen several brave priests openly criticize the congregation for this, although in a polite manner. The problem is: many people coming to Catholic Mass today are heavily influenced by secular American values. I personally believe, whether it can be directly related to Vatican II or not, the rapid changes made in the Church following Vatican II have blurred the identity of the Catholic Church, her mission and her relationship to the world.

And yes, I know of at least one priest who has boldly professed: We are the Church.

And, I’m sorry, but having Bible studies or apologetics classes on weekday nights won’t cut it. Most of the church members will never go to those things and those who do are probably pretty strong in their Catholicism already anyway. The homily is pretty much the only chance our priests and deacons will get a chance to instruct most Catholics.

Excellent point.

I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my blunt tone, but lately the state of our church has gotten me really down.

As well as a lot of people here.


#3

The homily is required to be based on the readings and Gospel of the day. From the Code of Canon Law:

Can. 767 ß1 The most important form of preaching is the homily, which is part of the liturgy, and is reserved to a priest or deacon. In the course of the liturgical year, the mysteries of faith and the rules of Christian living are to be expounded in the homily from the sacred text.


#4

Right on Dan. I only recently returned to Christ and the the church. I felt bored and detached from going through the mass motions. Nothing was really explained, at least you had access to study groups. Thank god for the CAF, EWTN, and even youtube for showing a catholic life outside of mass and for providing answers. I hope they don’t use the latin mass here or i’ll be even more lost. Please god don’t let the church become a weekend ceremony, let it be a lifeline to your glory.


#5

I was blessed with a curious nature and have pretty well educated myself on Catholicism. I had a good background in grade school, but when I hit the 9th grade, Vatican II came in and our religion class degenerated into “God loves you - now draw a picture of a butterfly” So I went to good books and when the internet came along, I used it too and have been a lifelong learner.

I wish that homilies could be more informative. Some priests do use them to preach on the Catholic faith and its teaching, but alas most don’t.


#6

When I caught myself whining in similar terms one too many times, I decided that maybe God was telling me to DO something about it. I signed up to teach CCD and by the grace of God was given sixth grade, in which the curriculum is SCRIPTURE. Lemme tell ya: I use that class to catechize parents as well as the kids. And whether or not the kids come out of it really grasping the message, at least they will have HEARD the message. I’m not responsible for how the seed grows, but I’m out there with my seed-sack scattering the stuff all over their little 12-year-old heads.


#7

Indeed! I thought the same thing – the Lord telling me, “Well, Dan, being angry and pacing around the parish men’s room won’t solve anything.” :wink:

Maybe I should volunteer in my parish’s RCIA. I’ve heard many of those programs are downright frightening.


#8

Be CAREFUL! I’m a convert (trained as an Episcopal Priest) – more Katholick than Catholic! In my barely orthodox parish where management is against laymen reading the Catechism, I have volunteered for RCIA several times. They won’t let me NEAR it because they’re scared I’ll say stuff like the Catholic Church is the One True Church.

But nobody wants to teach middle schoolers. So they’re not about to give me grief when I teach my kids the Lord’s Prayer in Latin . . . . This has been a very rewarding experience, and the chances of doing some good in sixth grade are maybe even a little better than with RCIA because I have 16 kids and my parish often has only 1 or 2 in RCIA.

Go get 'em, Dan!


#9

:rotfl: :ouch:


#10

I agree with the above posters. Constructive action is the best cure for frustration.


#11

That has been my experience as well. The RCIA teaches a very “watered down” version of the Faith, I suspect because it seems the VAST majority of people that go through it do so because they are getting married to a Catholic, and they need to be Catholic in order to have a wedding in the Church, which is a requirement by the in-law’s parents.

I firmly believe that there’s nothing you or I, or anyone else can do to bring people closer to the Church. People themselves need to bring themselves closer by opening their hearts to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, for most people, that’s not going to happen in 21st century America.

Sad to say, but I pretty much “tune out” when the celebrant starts with the homily. Why listen to the same homily every Sunday? Besides, I don’t come to the Mass to be instructed in the Faith, there are plenty of [better] resources to learn about the Faith than a priest’s homily. I assist at the Mass to unite myself with the Apostle St John at the foot of the Cross, and be given to Mary as a son, and to take her as my Mother; and, of course, to eat the Glorified Flesh of Our Lord.

THAT is the purpose of the Mass.


#12

just an honest question…no judgment intended here…isn’t it Christ that we hear speaking through the homilist and not the individual? does this mean that as humans we’re negating the divine to the ordinary?

Father’s homily was longer than usual this Sunday and I found my mind wandering then I snapped and told myself that it was Christ speaking and I was able to focus ( I actually heard something that allowed me to work out some negative feelings I’d been carrying with me for several days now.)


#13

A good homilist who has an apologetics bent can make an apologetics homily out of almost any reading. Our young associate pastor does it all the time. He’s had to gore some sacred cows and make people squirm in the process, but he is unfazed. He is fond of quoting Fr. John Corapi: “It is my responsibility to preach the truth, and I’ll answer for it to God if I don’t. I have a soul to save too, and I’m not going to hell for anybody!” :thumbsup:


#14

You’re absolutely right about that. This is my third year serving as sponsor to inquirers in RCIA. The team leader starts out the class on the Eucharist by telling everyone the definition of the word transubstantiation, then tells everyone to forget the word because it’s not really used much anymore. Besides, it’s such a big word that’s too much of a mouthfull. Then she proceeds to state that it’s still bread and wine. Then there’s the whole issue of having to watch scenes from Jesus Christ Superstar. I feel like I need to go to confession after watching that garbage!


#15

Absolutely, both things can be done by a holy priest! You have a great one!


#16

Personally I think the church should pass out copies of CATHOLICISM FOR DUMMIES or AN IDIOTS GUILD TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

At Easter mass our priest told the congregation that he was asked earlier that morning if Catholics still believe that the Host is really the body/blood of Christ :eek: I think that many cradle Catholics *(of which I am one) *do not know much about our faith. I admit that I have learned more about Catholic faith since my daughter started attending Catholic School. Over the past 7 years she has helped me renew my faith in the Church as she and I study the Catechism.


#17

Our parish does this, but that may be because we’re considered a “mission” parish, here in the heart of “enemy territory” so to speak.

Perhaps you would consider forming an apologetics group in your parish that could interact with RCIA and help those who wish to deepen their knowledge of the faith?


#18

Our RCIA program is magnificent! Three hours long every Monday night, and it’s videotaped for catechumens who can’t make it. (Skipping isn’t allowed!) The binder of study material is one of those four inch binders–you need a cart to push it along, it’s so heavy!! It’s almost an ordeal to make it all the way through the RCIA program in our church! My signature says, RCIA Class of 2004 ROCKS!–because when we finished the course, we were floating high! I think they should call it “Boot Camp.”

Anyway, Dan, have you considered the possibly of starting a Men’s Bible Study in your parish? There has been one going on in our parish for years. I know several of the men who attend, and they are sharp guys. When I see them, I see Jesus. So they must be learning something.

From the guys say, it’s not just a Bible study, but a fellowship group. The guys are there for each other when one of them has a new baby, a death in the family, a job loss, etc. They meet Tuesdays at six A.M.

And I disagree that midweek Bible studies and classes aren’t the answer. That’s how Protestants do it. I was Protestant for most of my life, so I feel qualified to make that statement. For many Protestants, the “meat” of their learning takes place in personal Bible study and in group Bible studies.

I agree that most people in the parish will never attend. But you’d be surprised. At the first Catholic parish Bible study I attended, when we introduced ourself, one lady was in her 60s. She had raised her 8 children, had never attended any kind of Bible study, and just decided that she’d better start learning something. She has been an enthusiastic attendee. And quite a few people said that they just wanted to learn more. Often, people will start attending Bible studies after their kids have left home–it’s kind of an “empty nest” thing. (That’s why I was there!)

Of course you won’t get every person in the parish to attend a Bible study or Catechesis class. But one person at a time, and every year, the circle grows bigger, and the people know more about their Church and their faith.

BTW, when I say"Bible study," in the Catholic Church, this usually includes Catechism as well. And ALWAYS make sure to go through the proper channels. Our priests are enthusiastic supporters of Bible studies, and one of the priests in currently teaching a class called “Theology for Beginners,” which is supposed to be a class about basic doctrines of the Catholic Church.)


#19

I must say I do share OP’s desire for “meaty” homilies, but we should also keep in mind that the purpose of the Mass isn’t catechesis—it’s celebrating with the Lord.

That said, it’s a lot easier to take 10 minutes of “Mr Rogers” than 90 minutes of it, or 90 minutes of “Mr Hyde”, both of which I regularly experienced as a Protestant.


#20

I think there is a danger of turning Mass into some kind of “Pep-talk” by emphasising dialogue and education a little too much.

However, we also need to realise that we have very little oppurtunity to educate people in our Beautiful Truth as Mass is usually the only thing most Catholics go to (If they do anything at all)

Apologetics shouldn’t take away from the sacrificial aspect of Mass - it should add to it and enrich it.

JD


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