|At least we don't have the liberal, hippie religion of being Herbert. "I am not One!"|
My parents recently posed the following question: Why are people, in general, in my generation ("Generation X") and below not attending Mass regularly? That is their perception and the perception of their peers. Truth be told, GorT doesn't see this on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis as he lives in a community full of Catholics that largely send their kids to a Catholic school (either parochial or private) or attend CCD, that attend Mass weekly (to the point that everyone has "assigned seats", meaning that we all know which Mass each family attends and where they sit in church - to the point that one of our priests made the comment to GorT on the way out of Saturday evening Mass that we weren't sitting in our usual seats to which GorT explained, "Well, those are our 9:30am Mass seats, for 5:30 Mass we generally sit where we did tonight). Each Mass at GorT's parish is well attended, even during the Ordinary Season of the Catholic calendar. So having said all of the above, GorT is aware that some of his peers and those younger than him don't attend Mass regularly (if at all). And the question posed is interesting: why do I think that has happened?
In the end, I think it is due to a few factors:
1. Cultural - the secular thinking of liberals, largely experienced by those in college when one's parents aren't around to help provide guidance, has portrayed the Church as "not cool" for one reason or the other. They will cite not having married priests, women priests, the children abuse scandal, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, etc. as reasons why the Church is an institution not to be trusted, believed, or followed.
2. Laziness - or one could term this as priorities. With the explosion of activities available for kids - largely sports - that create scheduling conflicts with Mass it is easy for parents these days to say that they are too busy to make Mass. Pffftt. GorT's church holds four Masses per weekend and there are three or four other Catholic churches within a 15 minute drive that likely triples the number of distinct Mass times - ranging from 5pm Saturday evening through 5pm Sunday evening. Even those in areas with fewer Catholic churches have at least some options...and yes, it might mean that Dad and one child goes to one Mass and Mom and the other kids go to another. That's ok. While we enjoy going to Mass as a family, during our busy sports seasons, we do split up to make it work. Because it is important. Which leads to...
3. Parental Responsibility - one of the aspects of getting married in the Catholic Church is agreeing to receiving children from God and raising them in the faith. All too often these days, parents are allowing children to dictate rules within the household: what they want to do (stay out late, play inappropriate games or movies, go to situations that are likely not appropriate for their age, etc.), what they want to own (Susie has a new iPhone, I want a new iPhone, I don't like my iPhone that is a year old), etc. So, GorT envisions that there are families where a child complains Sunday morning, "Mom, I don't want to go to Church. Do we have to?" and proceeds to be difficult and unruly. Instead of using it as a teachable moment, the parent caves and says fine...and turns back to reading their copy of the New York Times and sipping their double caramel, half-caf, macchiato.
In the end, I think a liberal, secular culture has brought about this situation. And that is why the timing of GorT's parish's Lenten focus on the Church facing the secular world so interesting. His pastor has invited a guest speaker (a brother of the Order of the Holy Cross) to give a series of talks over the next few evenings on this subject. GorT plans on attending and will report back and share with our readers some thoughts. In the meantime, if you have other insights on this phenomena - both causes, effects, or why GorT missed some aspect of it, please drop me an email.