Friday 1 November 2013

Give us back our Religion

The altar for All Saints Day.

I was visiting a parishioner from a former parish this week (she is very poorly indeed, please spare her a prayer) when coming down the corridor I was recognised by some other parishioners from a former parish.  Once they had reminded me I recalled who they were, as they were not people overly involved in parish activities but just "ordinary" faithful Mass goers.  In the course of a little chat, they paid me the great compliment of saying, "Father, you gave us our religion back." What she meant was the experience all those little things that speak of the numinous, of our tradition and call us out of the ordinary to raise the heart and mind to God.

I regale you with this snippet not to enhance my reputation but rather to reflect on a rather sad phenomena - that many people who have persevered going to Mass over these years when so much change has taken place feel that they have "lost" or had their religion taken away.  These are the ordinary faithful Mass goers.  They may not come to the social events or help out in any special ministries but they simply try to do what they were taught - go to Mass each Sunday and live as good a life as they can manage.  It's perhaps many of these who over the years of changing liturgical experience have eventually drifted away.  Not confident enough to challenge any errors in the new ways but unable to find solace or beauty in the Mass as they have come to experience it. They do not agitate for the the "old" religion but would willingly see its return.  I wonder if it's many of these people who have drifted away over the years and lapsed not because they have given up their faith but because they feel it's moved away from them?  The jollifications of the "modern" experience of Mass don't give enough spiritual sustenance to make the experience worthwhile getting out of bed for  on a Sunday morning.

It was a good moment for me. After all, giving people religion must be some part of the priest's job.


JB said...

Dearest Father,

your words remind me of an interesting post here ...

... which looked at a book in which lapsed Catholics were asked of their opinions before and after the introduction of the Novus Ordo. Similar sentiments were expressed as those you mentioned.

Of course, those who lapsed did a very great wrong - their faith was lamentably weak - but they were also wronged against. The Treasury of the Sacred Liturgy, catechesis and many noble and God-Given pieties and devotions were tampered with in an arrogant manner. All of us have suffered from this.

As one in his thirties, I am only beginning to realise what was taken from us in the 1960/70s, and am less than pleased.

Lord God, please have Mercy - even More!

Long-Skirts said...


We are St. Joan,
Philomena, Campion,
The Faith in its whole
Is what we do champion.

We are St. Margaret,
Pearl of York,
Where the bowels of the Faith
They tried to torque.

We are Sir More,
That's Thomas the Saint,
Whose reputation
They could not taint.

We are vocations
Large families and kneeling
Praising His presence
It's not just a feeling.

We are disciples
Of Christ and beggin'
To stop all the men
Who are turning us pagan!

We are the poor,
Uneducated ones
But in faith well-informed
The heretic shuns.

And when we are told,
"Don't believe anymore."
On the Feast of All Saints -
We're at Mass and ADORE!!

Damask Rose said...

Thank you for this post Father. My husband and I feel like we are outsiders still on the inside (!). We don't belong, the odd ones. Sometimes going to Mass feels bleak. The Church is no longer that which we were taught by our parents.

I think your old parishioners have given you a lovely complement, Father.

I look forward to seeing some more of your Mass/Services photos from your parish.

Anonymous said...

Well done Father. We need more like you.

GOR said...

Indeed, Father, and I feel for those who have ‘given up’ on going to Mass or who don’t feel it is worthwhile any more. I suspect God may regard many of them as: “more sinned
against, than sinning…”

In my darkest days (and there were many!) I never gave up on going to Mass. While many other things were not right in my life and I couldn’t receive Holy Communion for years, the one link I was loath to relinquish was Mass on Sundays and Holydays. I felt that if I let that go I would be lost. It was the lifeline that kept me in the Church and, thank God, other things resolved themselves in due course.

It is the one thing I would say to anyone who feels alienated or at sea: NEVER give up on the Sunday and Holyday obligation - regardless of your personal situation or whether you can receive Holy Communion or not. God can solve all problems, if we let Him – and being faithful to the Mass obligation keeps us in touch with Him.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for those younger catholics that have never known the presence of heaven in a solemn high mass.

Anonymous said...

You make good points Father, but its not only about the liturgical experience. Don't get me wrong, the liturgy is immensely important, and I would never claim otherwise. However, they have also suffered through the modernist teaching which has permeated the Church, the watering down of doctrines, and in some cases, attempts to outright change them. Its all related.