Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The "Ebbing" of the Liturgy

At their annual meeting last week in Milwaukee, the nation's diocesan liturgical directors chewed over the latest CARA stats revealing a 23 percent weekly Mass-attendance rate among American Catholics...
From the survey of 1,007 self-identified Catholics, 20 percent attend Mass every week, 11 percent attend almost every week, 10 percent attend once or twice a month, and 3 percent attend more than once a week. Thirty two percent attend rarely or never.

"We've seen an erosion in the faith life of people because of that lack of practice," Bishop [Blase] Cupich, a member of the U.S. bishops' ad hoc committee on liturgical translations, said in an informal discussion with participants on current liturgical issues.

The statistics force the church nationwide to ask what people are searching for in the liturgy, but the church cannot let the discussion be driven solely by people's desires, Bishop Cupich said. Respondents to the CARA survey placed higher importance on feeling the presence of God at Mass and receiving the Eucharist as opposed to the homily, music and environment.

Reasons for missing Mass ranged from 51 percent of those attending Mass at least once a month being too busy, to 48 percent of the same group citing family responsibilities. From the CARA survey, 68 percent of respondents believed they could be a good Catholic without going to Mass every Sunday and 57 percent believed that it was not a sin to skip Mass.

Bishop Cupich cited the upcoming revisions to the Roman Missal, which contains the texts used in the celebration of Mass, including the responses by the congregation, as a perfect opportunity to create enthusiasm and renewal in the church. (See related sidebar outlining coming changes.)

"How do we use this moment, this opportunity and be a teaser, inviting people?" Bishop Cupich said. "Something new is coming. Americans love that theme."
[Americans may love the theme of the new... but, candidly, there's (at best) an even split on love for the White Book vs. the lack thereof.]
"The way the church is calling us to pray is going to deepen the lives of people," Bishop Cupich said. "We are a church always in reform. We are a church mining the depths of our tradition. This is a mine that is very deep and we should be excited about this.... We're pliable. We can stretch our lives. This is a moment for us to ask, how are we being renewed?"

Another trend noted by the CARA survey was the lack of belief in the real presence in the Eucharist. Only 57 percent of respondents said they believed that Jesus Christ was truly present in the Eucharist.
In their main liturgical item of the coming November Meeting, the bishops will revisit the "gibbet" with a "mulligan" vote on the previously-rejected second section of the revised Mass translations.