In response to an article I read on what Catholic churches could learn from other “churches” that are filling their pews:
The reason so many pews are empty in Catholic churches is because too many Catholics are already too non-Catholic in their concept of worship. They do not go to Mass with the proper intentions. Nor do they go with the understanding that the Mass is The Holy Sacrifice. When they are present at Mass without proper understanding and intentions and without an awareness of what is actually occurring they become bored and may eventually fail to go at all.
Is it true that Joel Osteen’s “key to success” is “interesting” and “non-intellectual sermons” that “touch people on a personal level”? Does he really bring “Scripture alive in a way that the average person relates to”? I will agree that they are non-intellectual and that they do succeed in increasing the numbers of Osteen’s listeners. Do they, however, succeed in helping those listeners become all that God wants them to be? Do they succeed in helping those listeners transform into authentic Disciples of Christ? Do they succeed in helping those listeners want to be all that God wants them to be and in leading them to be unwilling to accept anything less and to lack of desire for anything more? I don’t believe so. Quite the contrary actually. In fact, it may be the lack of that success that fills Osteen’s “church”.
No, we don’t need to “learn from the Osteens of the world” in order to increase attendance at Mass nor need we “wonder why it is so poorly attended”. That can be attributed (in many cases at least) to either a lack or loss of faith, which in some cases (perhaps many) could be the result of inadequate catechesis. Much could be said about the Real Presence and of the benefits of receiving the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion. It is also important to note that those who for some reason are unable to receive Holy Communion (Catholic or otherwise) are also blessed and privileged to participate in the awesome Sacrifice by which the Real Presence is manifested.
It isn’t only the priest who must “Put enough heart in it that one can feel the Holy Spirit”. It is we who must do so as well. But that requires that we know about and appreciate The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Do we really need to “liven it up” so “people sense the Spirit” and “fill those pews”?
It is when the people grow in faith that they will be spiritually alive and bring that life with them to Mass. It is when they hear the Truth as it is presented in the liturgy (both of the Word and of the Eucharist) itself and in homilies that catechize and when they harden not their hearts to that Truth that they will be spiritually alive and bring that life with them to Mass. The Mass is alive – alive with the Word, Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord and Master. Let us rejoice and be glad (with reverence)! Let us appreciate his Sacrifice and attend Mass with awe, thanksgiving and profound adoration, and give our Blessed Triune God the honor and worship that we owe Him. And let us teach our youth and help them to love Holy Mass for what it really is, “like Padre Pio did”, and never separate themselves from it. They are the future church. They will “fill those pews” if we don’t fail them.
Respectfully, your brother in Christ,
Of all the practices recommended by our holy religion – Morning and Evening Prayers, Prayers before and after Meals, Visits to the Most Holy Sacrament, Rosary, Way of the Cross, etc. – the august Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest, the most precious, and the most holy, as well as the most conducive to man’s salvation.
Holy Mass was instituted by Christ Himself at the last Supper. He commanded His Apostles to do the same that He had done, saying: ‘Do this for a Commemoration of Me’.
Assisting at holy Mass you should have the fourfold intention of Adoration, by which we acknowledge our dependence on God as the Ruler over life and death; of Praise and Thanksgiving for the benefits conferred on us; of Reparation for our sins and negligences; of Impetration, to implore of Him the grace necessary for salvation.” (The Roman Catholic Daily Missal, Angelus Press)