The other day, I posted a thought about a ridiculous claim (HERE). I wrote:
There is no lack of priestly vocations where bishops are capable of projecting solid clerical identity and where they teach perennial Catholic truth in charity and in clarity.
I come from a parish where in 30 years there were 30 First Masses. I live in a diocese where in a decade the bishop turned around vocations from 6 to 30.
The proportion of priests to people is more or less constant. Why? Lay people get the priests that they produce and that they deserve. Lower Mass attendance results in falling numbers of priests, not the other way around.
Today I read a perspicacious piece by Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture. He addressed the issue of the number of churches being opened or closed in the Archdiocese of Boston – though what he wrote could easily apply to just about any diocese you can name – throw a dart at the map. He also touched on vocations to the priesthood. He wrote:
There were about 1.8 million Catholics registered in the area covered by the Boston archdiocese 50 years ago; today the official figure is 1.9 million.
The trouble, of course, is that most of those 1.9 million Catholics aren’t practicing the faith. Consequently it should be no surprise that their sons don’t aspire to the priesthood. There were just over 2,500 priests working in the archdiocese 50 years ago; now there are fewer than 300. That’s right; nearly 90% of the priests are gone. If you can’t replace the priests, you can’t keep open the parishes.
Let’s be frank. These figures are not a cause for concern; they are a cause for horror. Panic is never useful, but something close to panic is appropriate here. Things have gone terribly, terribly wrong.
He also wrote:
Yes, the Lord promised that the Church would last through the end of time. But he did not promise that the Archdiocese of Boston (or your own diocese) would last forever. The faith can disappear, indeed has disappeared, from large geographical areas—northern Africa, for instance.
While the Lord promised that the hell would in the end not prevail, He did not promise it would not prevail in, say, your home town, your country. Think of the mighty Churches of ancient times, in Turkey and North Africa. They are gone and now we have echos of their memory in certain bishops who serve the Church everywhere but where those sees were. [i.e., auxiliary bishops]
Whole regions of Churches can be broken and swept away like sand. Parishes close in dioceses. Jesus did not found your parish. He didn’t promise that it would last until He returned.
[E]ven if we could safely assume that the faith will recover in another 10 or 20 or 50 years, that would not absolve us, in this current generation, of our responsibility to evangelize. Right now, people are going without the benefit of the sacraments, because of our failure and our complacency. Lives are being lost; souls are being lost. We are accountable.
Go read the whole thing over there.
If you are worried about what’s going on, you are not alone.
I, of course, will restate what I always state. The success of every initiative we undertake in the Church, either ad intra or ad extra, depends on a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship. If that doesn’t happen, neither will any other good thing we attempt. Our Catholic identity flows from and back to worship. We can’t know who we are without it. Nor can we have the divine aid we need to do what has to be done.
Finally, FATHERS! Please, I implore you, to take a look at
Bishops, priests, please. Take a look especially at the end.