Fr. Bill Baer, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, former rector of St. John Vianney Minor Seminary (which he turned around in a Herculean labor) and now parish priest of Transfiguration in Oakdale, MN, has intelligent observations about Catholics and Sunday Mass attendance.
Some salient points from Fr. Baer in my arrangement but with links back to his parish blog:
The first of the seven "Precepts of the Church" is this: "To attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and to rest from servile works."
"When I was young, I went to Mass because I had to. Now, I go to Mass because I want to."
It is rare these days to hear a pastor declare, "You must go to Mass." Actually, it is rare these days to hear a pastor declare that you must do just about anything.
3. Reason #2: If We Just Ignore that Nasty Little Statistic, Perhaps It Will Go Away Recent studies have determined that between 25% and 30% of American Catholics are at Mass on any given Sunday. (Statistics on Sunday Mass attendance vary a great deal by region: Catholics in western Kentucky and the Dakotas, for example, have been clocked at 75% – 80%. At the other end would be the Archdiocese of Boston, which reports attendance rates of 12% – 15%.)
Imagine truancy rates such as these in our schools.
The decline in Sunday Mass attendance among Catholics is part of a larger phenomenon: the decline in Sunday itself. A couple of generations ago, many rural and big-city Catholics had small closets in their bedrooms, containing two hooks: one to hold their working clothes, the other to hold their "good" clothes, their Sunday clothes. Two hooks, two parts of the week. Nowadays, Catholics get dressed up for work, and dress down for Sunday.
WDTPRS kudos to Fr. Baer. I hope he continues his series.
Pastors of souls are just that… pastors of souls. They have the responsibility to see the the care of souls of their parishioners.
Getting them to Mass on Sunday, so they don’t risk their souls, is a good start.
From there, you can take them along a sound pastoral path.