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I came across an interesting article the other day entitled “Why do many miss experiencing Jesus in our parishes? How can we change this?” by Msgr. Charles Pope. Msgr. Pope is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and his article appears on the Archdiocesan website. I think Msgr. Pope understands the problem. The underlying causes of the problem and the correct solutions, however, seem to escape him. This is frustrating to see, but all too common in our time. The misdiagnoses listed in the article are the precise reason that Mass attendance in most Catholic parishes is dwindling while those who do attend don’t seem to “get much out of it.”
I’ll begin with Msgr. Pope’s statement of the problem. On this much we agree:
I. Problems – If Jesus is present in his Church then this is most evident in his action and presence in the Liturgy and Sacraments of the Church. Yet any cursory look into a typical Catholic parish would reveal little to indicate an obvious awareness of the presence and action of Jesus in the Liturgy and Sacraments.
As we celebrate the Traditional Feast of St. Catherine of Siena today, we remember how a great Saint and Doctor of the Church dealt with grievous papal failings in her own day. Her response stands as a forceful indictment of the many Neo-Catholic apologists who chastise Traditionalists for speaking out against any and all actions of the Pope.
For the Neo-Catholic, the only acceptable reaction is to stand by in absolute and abject silence. This was not, however, the view of St. Catherine. Her letter to Pope Gregory XI (below) stands as a testimony to the moral obligation of all Catholics to correct and admonish their erring pastors. Even, if necessary, the pope himself.
To do so is an act of charity not only for the sake of the pope, but for the sake of the entire Church. This has never been truer than in our time today. Sadly, we can all see that this letter to Pope Gregory XI in the 1370’s could be written to our own Holy Father today, practically word for word.
St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, Pray for Us!