Speaking of Hell’s Kitchen, over at CWR there is a dynamite interview with Fr. George Rutler, Pastor of St. Michael’s in Manhattan.
He speaks on a range of issues, from the decision of the Church of England to “ordain” women as “bishops” (which they can’t do because they are a) not really a Church and b) they have no valid orders and c) women can’t be ordained to any grade of Holy Orders. He talks about the state of Catholic education in New York, though his comments apply equally to other places. He talks about the need to evangelize rather than sell off our patrimony, which could apply to many places. He speaks about Islam, which we do need to discuss more seriously than we have. He offers thoughts about Benedict and Francis.
I’d enjoy reposting the whole thing and doing my own color commentary, but … I’m busy. Go HERE and read the whole thing. Meanwhile, here’s a sample, which touches on liturgy with my emphases:
CWR: Your Manhattan parish is in “Hell’s Kitchen,” an area once known for its high crime rate. Is it a difficult parish to serve?
Fr. Rutler: Every parish has its pluses and minuses. Mine was founded in 1857 for Irish immigrants. The site of the church has since moved, but it once included a massive church and school which served 10,000 parishioners.
By the 1960s and ’70s, the area was crime-ridden and poor, but still home to many immigrants. The “Westies,” or Irish mafia, ruled the area. They were notorious not just for their crime, but for being sadists. The parish virtually evaporated; there were almost no parishioners. It was questionable whether the parish could continue.
But the area has revitalized and undergone a big real estate boom. We have many building projects going on, bringing many new people into the area. Property values have risen. A subway stop will soon open near the church to serve the rapidly growing neighborhood.
[QUAERITUR…] But the question is, how many will we make Catholic? Our job is not to just serve ethnic communities with large concentrations of Catholics, but to fulfill the great evangelical commission of Christ: make disciples of all nations. He didn’t tell us to just go out into the Catholic neighborhoods. I think we need to resist the financial temptation to sell the property during this economic upturn, and see that there is a tremendous potential for converts here. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]
CWR: The Archdiocese of New York has closed a net 31 parishes, with perhaps more closures on the way. Why are fewer and fewer residents making participation in the life of the Church a part of their lives?
Fr. Rutler: New Yorkers are part of Western culture, which is in the midst of being secularized. Our religious instinct has faded, and our traditionally Catholic families are moving out of the City. [This could be said about many large cities.]
Part of the problem is the need for effective catechesis. [Emphasis on “effective”.] The ignorance of the Faith among the young is stunning. Our Catholic schools have been in a state of decline. In some of our schools we’re covering up our religious symbols so we can receive money from the state.
Also, [Here we go…] there has been a liturgical failing. The liturgy is a prime means of evangelizing people, but our liturgies are often banal.
As I have written a thousand times, unless there is a renewal of our sacred liturgical worship of God, no other initiative of “New Evangelization” will succeed. It all comes back to worship. That’s the activity, according to the virtue of Religion, that coordinates the hierarchy of our relationships with persons (Divine, angelic, human) and our loves (making sure that GOD has the throne of our hearts and minds). If our relationship with God isn’t squared away, and that must include liturgical worship, everything else will be on shaky ground. How can we who accept the claim that the Eucharist (the Sacrament and Its celebration) are the “source and summit” of our Catholic lives think that we can undertake something as sweeping as a New Evangelization apart from a renewal of Holy Mass, the Divine Office solemnly celebrated, and all our other rites? And yet when we hear our leaders, our shepherds, go on and on and on about this or that project or initiative, how often do they connect it – heck, even mention – the centrality and urgency of sacred liturgical worship of God?
New Evangelization? Promote and apply Summorum Pontificum.