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    Current rating: 3.3 (15 ratings)

    Fr. Barron comments on Why Catholics Leave the Church

Mark Dressel
I certainly agree with the notion of "follow-up." In many parishes there are countless families listed as members who have long since departed. But, I suspect the other reasons given are probably a bit specious. I think Bishop Sheen was quite correct when he said that he would ask a fallen away Catholic, "What was your sin?" Because, I think much of the time that is the issue.
4/4/2012 3:32:49 PM
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Father Christopher
I'm a priest, 62 years old. Perhaps this is too simplistic, but I believe that poor catechesis for 40 years is the reason people leave. Homilies were always mediocre; churches were always huge and relatively understaffed; and there were some who drifted away. But the folks had the faith. At a time when secularization is growing rapidly, at a time when folks have been poorly catechized in this secularized environment - of course, people are leaving.
4/4/2012 3:38:31 PM
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John Fernandez-Salvador
I agree with Father Christopher on this point. Having a real understanding of our Tradition is fundamental to being an engaged Catholic.
Many people I see at Church don't really know how to behave at Mass or what its purpose is. It appears that they are waiting to be entertained; they read the bulletin during the homily or they text. I look around and I see future Protestants. The depth, beauty and mystery of our Catholic Faith is lost to them. It's heart breaking during Lent, to see 25 people on a Friday night, attend the Stations of the Cross (in a parish of 2500). Regrettably, society, during the past 50 years has moved towards the secular values of the Left and now people are living a life different than our parents'. One that is less about God, sacrifice and love - and is more about self indulgence, self empowerment and self promotion. Faith has taken a secondary or tertiary place of importance in many Catholics' lives. To counter that we have to become involved and educate our families, friends, co-workers and co-parishioners on why we love our Catholic Tradition. We are the Church; we have to take ownership. We can't expect our loving, aging Clergy to fight this fight alone.
Thank you Father Barron for commenting on this painful but important topic.
4/4/2012 5:37:20 PM
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Matthew A.
As a young cradle Catholic adult, I have watched many Catholics leave the faith...and in nearly every instance, I can pinpoint it to a poor grounding in the faith. Their faith was weak, so when the storm came in their lives, they were swept away.
4/4/2012 6:26:05 PM
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Eric Carter
Where is the follow up video to this?
4/4/2012 6:28:40 PM
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Some great simple remedies there for parishes to think about.
In terms of a possible explanation, i'd suggest two reasons why local church representatives behave like the way reported:
- the Church is in a defensive crouch due to very very poor understanding / perception due to scandal
- the Church is an elitist organisation in a democratic age ... not a good fit for democratic people who are more than willing to walk, when confronted by elitism

4/4/2012 6:37:27 PM
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A few scattered reactions to this piece and the underlying question:

1. It's strange, but my sense is that most people who leave the Church don't really know why they have left. Oh, they can give an answer if asked. But that answer is not really what caused them to drift. So a survey, which relies on answers given by the fallen away, is not very useful in some ways. Not worthless, but not getting to the heart of the matter.

2. The heart of the matter seems to me to be in the "orientation" of people in the modern era. We are oriented to ourselves, and we are looking for something that fills our false desires. We want people to be nice to us on the phone, we want interesting homilies, we want doctrine to agree with our beliefs. All understandable at the level of human nature. But the Church can't satisfy those kinds of needs, and isn't in place to do so. People leave the Church because they are turned inward on themselves, as Fr. Barron has commented in other videos and contexts. And that "orientation" will always produce dissatisfaction. The "orientation" of our parents and grandparents was (in a general sense) different. They did not approach the Church with a "what have you done for me lately" attitude.

3. The "customer service" point, analogizing to the corporate world, is apt. But there's a further application of the analogy. When customers go to Starbucks, whether in NY or Chicago or London, they expect the product to the be same. Pick any chain, McDonalds for example, and the basic premise applies. But in the Catholic Church, the "product" can be very different from one parish to the next. And that creates a cacophony. It also means, at the level of parish priests and staff, that the reason parishioners don't feel they get good customer service, or that they are not valued, is that priests and staff do not, at their core, buy into what the "product" really is. In many ways, the distribution chain in the Church is broken, and this has very significant consequences. A corporation would not survive long if they allowed their brand to be endlessly re-defined on a local level. Because then, what "is" the product?
4/4/2012 7:04:52 PM
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Most Catholics forget (or were never taught) that the Church and the sacraments were instituted by Christ; that before He died, He prayed that all His followers would be one – and He promised to remain with the Church until the end of the age.

So of course when a scandal comes, or a parishioner is mistreated, or a particular Church teaching offends our American sensibilities, we leave. We find another brand, so to speak, because we really don’t see what difference it makes to be Catholic – without stopping to question it, we choose comfort over obedience.

Having said all of that, I’m surprised that the Church’s handling of crimes against children didn’t top the list, or apparently even make the list, of reasons Catholics leave. With all due respect, I don’t think we can afford to be so smug as to ask those who leave (sometimes with great anguish), “What was your sin?”

I am a lifelong, committed Catholic. Is it easy? No. Have I been treated poorly in the ways enumerated in this survey? OH yeah. But I stay because I believe in the Christ who gave us the Church, and in the Holy Spirit who sustains it. To abandon the Church would be to abandon Him. Why would I possibly do that to myself, or to Him? Again, if Catholics knew what they were giving up, they would find it far more difficult to leave.

Parish priests: We love you and we pray for you. What some of us ask in return is for you to be faithful icons of Christ’s eternal priesthood. That means placing virtue above the need to be liked. It means caring about the emotional impact you have on your parishioners. It means saying you’re sorry when you’ve hurt us in ways that matter. This often requires humility and a commitment to emotional maturity. We get that you’re human. But you’re also our shepherds. In the words of St. Bernard, “A priest is either better than everyone else, or else a scandal to everyone else.” That’s what you signed up for. We’re here to support you, but we need you to lead and to lead faithfully, even when it takes you out of your comfort zone – as it will, every day for the rest of your life.
4/4/2012 7:43:07 PM
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I thought this was very good. I agree completely that there are things we can never control. Perhaps we will never be able to have everyone, but the things we can control should never be the reason for people leaving the church.
Sermons are so bad. Yes, preaching is difficult, but the sermons are often so bad.
4/4/2012 7:49:27 PM
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People leave the church because they are not loved. Christ said love one another as I have loved you and in general that is not happening. The encounter with Christ is not happening in parish life for those who leave. All the other comments are true, but as for them being reasons to leave I think they are excuses, people leave and at some point end up seeking agape elsewhere. A good grounding and education in the beauty and truth of our faith is helpful in difficult times but the love has to be there. the corporate analogy I agree was apt, except that we are not clients, we are beloved children of God and have been given the mission to pass that love along.You do t leave the one you love and you love those who show their love for you
4/4/2012 9:25:05 PM
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Brian A Cook
Throughout this Lent, and indeed over the past several years, I have thought seriously of why people become estranged from the Church. I do wonder whether people can see Jesus Christ in the Church. Indeed, the Church has centuries-old burdens on her witness. I am not willing to scapegoat the very existence of liberal democracy.

Indeed, the Church is seen by many as a throwback to the Dark Ages, pogroms and burnings and silencing and all. Do not human beings seek freedom and peace and justice? Have not many Catholics failed to spread those or even thwarted those?

I know that this may seem incoherent. Articulating everything properly would be beyond the scope of a simple comment. I am going through a difficult time finding truth wherever it is found, mainly in Jesus Christ. I am indeed questing and searching.
4/4/2012 9:33:41 PM
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For me, it has been difficult to stay in the Church the way it has been feminized over my lifetime. I can remember when people who strayed and sinned were actually denied communion until they confessed and did penance. There was a time when divorcees were not allowed communion until they got an annulment. There was a time when annulments weren't automatically granted, when there was an actual investigation.

That time has passed. The clergy has agreed to the feminist demands of non-judgement. They have failed to hold up the Word and acquiesced to sin. After all, if the clergy stood their ground, the women would have left!

I see the sacrament of marriage being rent and torn, treated as less than a business agreement. The Church still holds men to account, and rightly so! Women... not so much.
4/4/2012 11:38:59 PM
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My Experience Exactly
Fr. Barron, your commentary struck a chord in my memory. When I was a kid, I very distinctly remember the Sunday that our pastor came to visit us. My folks had stopped going to mass. It wasn't an intentional thing. It was just that life was hectic and demanding -- they had a lot of kids, Dad worked two jobs, Mom was always trying to make ends meet in the family budget, the cars were also breaking down and so there was also lots of stuff to do at home all the time with fixing cars, home repairs, lawns to mow, plus stuff with us kids like little league and basketball and music lessons, etc. Amid all the busyness of just living, we missed mass one Sunday. That turned into two Sundays, and three, and before long I couldn't remember when we had last been to church (because when Mom and Dad weren't going, we kids weren't going either). I also specifically remember thinking that if Mom and Dad didn't go to church, then it must be alright to skip it, because I knew Mom and Dad were good people and they didn't go to church, so obviously you didn't have to go to church to be good. Now, of course, I realize there is lots more to it than that, but at the time, I just figured church was pretty optional. Then one Sunday, and I still remember it clearly, we were all laying around the living room working our way through the newspaper. Dad used to get a big, thick Sunday paper and we'd take turns passing the different sections around as Dad finished them (with the comics being the most highly covetted section for us kids). Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. I can still see the look of surprise on my Dad's face as he peered over the top of his newspaper with an expression that said, 'who in the world is knocking on our door on a Sunday afternoon?' Dad when to answer the door, and it was our pastor. "Come in Father," Dad said, and Father said: "Hi, good to see you. I haven't seen you for awhile and thought I'd stop to see how you are doing." Father sat for awhile and talked with us. He never said anything about us skipping church, he didn't scold or ask them why we'd missed, he just visited and chatted. After half an hour or so, he got up to go, said thanks for the coffee, and said he just wanted to see how we were all doing. After that, our family went to church every Sunday and never missed again. My folks also started a family rosary sometime after that, which our family continues to this day low the many decades later. It's a highlight whenever we all get together again to say the rosary together, and now that we who were kids now have children of our own, we have all started the family rosary in our own families. The power of simply knowing that someone cares is great, and little seeds can grow in unexpected ways.
4/5/2012 1:40:48 AM
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Interesting points but I'll provide you with a few reasons why my wife and I SHOULD have left the church but didn't:

1. I (a male) was propositioned by the associate pastor of our parish.

2. My wife (who was a Pastoral Associate at the time) was propositioned by the pastor of our parish (a different parish).

3. The pastor of our parish (#3) was involved in a hit and run accident (he was drunk) and both he and the archdiocese attempted to cover it up. Unfortunately for the pastor, the victim of his negligence was the daughter of a cameraman from our local NBC affiliate who made sure the incident appeared on the news and in the paper.

4. The priest sexual abuse scandal and the complete disregard on the part of the entire Church hierarchy.

5. Homilies rarely have anything to do with the Gospel or other readings of the day. As an educated Catholic with a MA in Theology, I find it particular disconcerting when the priest is unprepared or does not take the opportunity for catechesis.

Why do we stay? Because the Church is like a family; you have relatives whom you would rather avoid at all cost but nonetheless, they are family. We stay because we have the Eucharist, the Source and Summit of our faith; this, if nothing else, should be the primary reason to stay. We stay because, like the disciples who were asked if they too were going to abandon Jesus after he said that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have life, responded "Where would we go? You have the words of everlasting life."

We love our Church but we also make our opinions known and have no problem challenging priests, bishops or even the pope when we have questions that are answered with the standard party line or without any pastoral concern.

One more point - I believe that Catholics leave the Church primarily because they do not take the time to study Scripture and Tradition. I believe it was Paul who admonished us to be prepared to give an answer or reason for our faith. We can't expect others to follow Christ when we give answers like "Because I was raised Catholic" or "Because I like the fact that Mass is only an hour long."

I love my Church but sometimes I'd like to take her over my knee and give her a good smack!

Fr. Barron - you should consider opening a school to teach priests how to give a good homily! Or maybe you could just tape yours every Sunday and we'll hook up a big screen TV in church so we can stream your homily from the internet!

Peace and Easter Blessings!
4/5/2012 5:11:21 AM
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It reflects the failure of the church to explain and transmit grace. Is not scripture is more related to a good educational foundation on the believer...the great truth are not taught well.
4/5/2012 7:59:50 AM
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The first sixteen years of my education were in catholic schools.Most people have "left" because they never really were in the Church. Attendence was based on requirement not commitment. But as noted above , the whole society has been running for exits in regards to faith. Real church attendence is at 20 to 25 percent for Catholics and the denominations
4/5/2012 8:14:03 AM
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What Is a Priest?
Is it to administer the sacraments? To preach? Do we got to church to be educated, enlightened and entertained -- or to worship? Is a priest supposed to be a social worker? Counselor? Administrator? A builder of buildings? Professor? Writer? Creator of TV shows? Radio personalities? Voice in the desert? I know we count on priests to perform all these rolls, but I don't know that we should expect all priests to do all things, and I do wonder what the "essential" role of a priest is.
4/5/2012 9:00:34 AM
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susan gawlicky
The church made single mothers feel ashamed. I was fortunate we had a new priest come in our parish, i knew the other wouldnt had baptized her. Also the sermons are so dry, they dont help with today
4/5/2012 9:03:22 AM
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Carla Lies
This piece brought me to tears. As a parishioner who has fought so hard for "parish conversion" it not only helped me to realize that there are people all over the country wanting and working for the same things, but it also helped me to realize how much work there is to do. I think it's important, for how scary it can be, to involve your Diocesan office when necessary. When my Bishop was up to his eyeballs in SA litigation, there was very little oversight during that time. It's important that Bishops and Diocesan offices be kept informed when Pastors and priests appear lost, and are falling into/leading others into sin.
4/5/2012 9:16:39 AM
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This is exactly the message that needs to get out more! This is probably the number one problem in every church in every denomination.

Well said!
4/5/2012 9:18:28 AM
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On a personal level, as an older, unmarried woman, I have come to believe there is no real place for me in the Catholic Church. It took many years to come to this conclusion. I really don’t fit in. I have struggled at times with thoughts of leaving and I'm still there because I love God first.
4/5/2012 9:37:50 AM
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Jesus had many different titles, just as Deacons,Priests, Pastors and Bishops do today. I think one thing we are forgetting, is that with so much to do for an overall conversion of the church, we each individually have to take one day at a time, first of all praying, and thanking God for the love He has given us, and the opportunity to help. In order to see lasting change, we must express a desire to want to do God's will. Love conquers all, even misguided efforts in Parishes. If your Pastoral Council isn't praying and practicing their faith, or has a aversion to praying before serious decision making, it's a red flag. First comes prayer, and a desire to live out the plan that God wants us to live out.
4/5/2012 10:37:45 AM
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Also, if you want to help, instead of leaving, you have to enter into that decision knowing that it is going to be difficult. There were a couple of incidents when I went up against the Pastor and the School Principal for what I and others thought were unacceptable failures (abuse) by a teacher, and a lack of administrative response to the complaints. Going into it, I knew that it was going to be difficult. I knew that I would have to stand my ground, try to remain calm, and not waiver. (I was screamed at, questioned for long periods of time, invited to leave by the principal, threatened, and eventually punished by the Pastor.) Our Pastor saw any protests as a form of disrespect and back talk. He called anyone who protested a "Protestant", and told us "You aren't Catholic." He justified it by saying our Parish was "Mission territory." I was a daily communicant, too. I would see his Chalice and I would shake, knowing that I was going to receive some sort of spiritual slap that day. He never missed an opportunity. Eventually, I did pull one child out of the school, but not the other. I continued to go to daily mass and pray. Just knowing that God is there, and knowing He sees and knows everything, helped. Going to the Bishops Office was a last resort, but it helped too, and unfortunately, the Pastor was punished, and removed to a Parish without a school. God does hear us, and we can't forget that. When scripture says "work it out in fear and trembling," I know exactly what it is saying.
4/5/2012 2:05:12 PM
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I agree with Fr. Christopher - my son tried to increase his Catholic education by attending Seattle University. BIG MISTAKE! They may as well be atheists as there is no sign of Christianity in there teachings. My son called his Catholic theology course - Criticisms on Christianity since the teacher, a Bible translator, had nothing good to say about Christianity or the Bible. Catholics need apologetics so they can stand strong in their faith - not this wishy-washy politically correct version of what modern atheists interpret faith to be.
4/5/2012 2:51:14 PM
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Dear Anonymous,

If you don't mind, I would make two suggestions: First, you could take your struggles with your faith to Christ, in the confessional. He is waiting for you, to heal you, and strengthen you in every way.

Second, if it at all possible, see if you can get a good spiritual director in your life.

Also, there are many great resources online, to enrich your faith. Knowledge is important, but only if based on a good interior life.

I will pray for you!
4/5/2012 3:38:11 PM
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I no longer think the problem in the Church is with the Priests and Bishops, save the fact that many Priests and Bishops no longer Catechise (teach the Traditional faith) and some Priests and Bishops seem not to know the faith; I think the main problem is with the laity - the laity no longer want to know the faith, and no longer teach the faith that they do know to their children and friends. It is the laity that has dropped the ball more than the Bishops and Priests. The laity want all the answers now, they want the Church to make them rich, to coddle their sins. The Laity no longer want to make the Church rich with prayers and money. The laity has been sucked into a life of temptation. The only solution: an effective change of the Culture by the Laity. It is time for the Laity to start doing their own part - see Carla's post above.
4/5/2012 5:13:01 PM
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john glorioso
I believe that each person's comments have something valueable to say. We see they vary from topic to topic and are diverse in opinion. One thing they all have in common is that they are from people who care and are fighting the good fight. My belief is that people have interpreted VatII in the way they want to and have heard God is all forgiving (true) "so I can do my thing and hope as long as my rationization is a good one I can convince myself it is the correct way to go". As a Eucharist Minister of Communion, I recently had a person thank me after receiving the Host. Later, I approach him and stated it was not necessary and not correct to do so. He stated he felt Christ would want him to do so. As I pointed out what the Chruch taught, he became upset and qouted Vat II (I read it and never say his reasoning mentioned). I guess he didn't want to hear my answer (as has been pointed out in the comments) and only wanted to do what he wanted to do, correct procedure or not.
4/5/2012 5:21:21 PM
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Paul Rodden
The problem is narcissism, and reasons for leaving the Church are rationalisations of that.

As Fr Barron says elsewhere: 'it's not about you'.

No amount of catechesis, follow-up, love, or any other technique can surmount this 'curvatus in se', except an act of the will through co-operation with grace.

The saints teach the way to become a saint is to will it - as Fr Barron's also pointed out elsewhere.

For many today, Christianity has to be packaged in cheap grace or else it's too much like hard work. Luckily, Faith Alone is far more palatable and available in around 33,000 flavours.
4/5/2012 5:48:54 PM
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“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son." -- Pope John Paul II, World Youth Day 2002
Art and culture are wonderful once we've had our fill of bread.
4/5/2012 7:12:08 PM
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Good Points Father - but you knew I would then digress, a bit. Ahem.

I agree with Michael Rose in his book "Goodbye Good Men" and others who have seen the 'bureaucracy' (lay and many pseudo religious) morph in to a political activist fundraising arm of the Leftist / Gender Feminist / Homosexualist lobby - more interested in trashing the Pope than Praising Him.

Time and again I have met Scorn and Hostility to even things like Praise of our 'Benedict the Wise', and the Great Moral Truth of his and our Magisterium. I have even seen paid 'catholic' Staff (living openly Contrary to Church Morality) walk out in Anger when Pope Benedict and his teachings are discussed in other than Derogatory terms.

Even worse, I left the Parish of my Confirmation after a 'priest' who had been arrested "Committing a lewd act in front of an undercover officer in the Boys Restroom of a Youth Sports Park" - Was Elevated to Pastor!

I was not alone in seeking a new home after that Insult. For I have not left the Roman Catholic Church, and Never Will - However, I have had considerable difficulty in locating Roman Catholic Churches (or at least their 'social justice' piggy banks) that still remain loyal to anything other than pushing for the Sunday Collection as a Duty for the Faithful - only to use it the other 6 days of the week for Partisan Anti Catholic Political Activism.

Sooo... I realize that those attacking the Great Truth of Catholicism may seem Louder than those Supporting it, but perhaps it is also their agenda that is being passed along - and the Voices of Loyal Catholics suppressed - by an entrenched Bureaucracy of 'professional' Catholics even the Pope recognizes as in need of Serious Reform.

BTW - the Catholicism Series was the first Truly Quality Explanation of the Faith I have watched. People may downplay 'production values' - but they Really Do Add to the Experience.

This will be invaluable in Our Schools, as the cartoon picture books of a scrubbed and sanitized Jesus in a Bathrobe surrounded by cute cartoon kids and make believe animals - Just Wasn't Cutting It.

Perhaps your finest point in the whole series was Resistance to the attempt to water down and domesticate Jesus for the mass market. You have made Him more accessible to the Many by making that point so clearly and cleanly, and made Clear what the Choice to Follow Him Really Means.

Bravo for creating a work of art that Does Justice to both Art - and more importantly to GOD.
4/5/2012 10:36:27 PM
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Customer relations is a very good way to put this! Even very dedicated and faithful Catholics get very discouraged and loose zeal or energy by how they are dismissed,mistreated, ignored, or used by parishes and Catholic schools. Servant leadership is so important for staff. It is also important not to emphasize equality over love in how Parish,school, and staff treat people. I am not talking about squishy compassion.Power cliques are a real problem. As far as sermons and preaching, it is so important for priests to have the courage to preach the truth and the faith.
4/5/2012 11:35:28 PM
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I'm a new Catholic. My conversion began in June of last year. In two days I will be baptized and confirmed at the Easter Vigil. But it has been rough.

The infallibility of Church doctrine is difficult for someone with a Protestant background and I imagine it can be hard for cradle Catholics too. When you are new to the Church or you are questioning your faith, nothing is more terrifying than encountering the imperfections in the people who run your local parish.

When the staff is rude, the deacon can't tell you how to get married in the Church, the priest doesn't know that the parish has an RCIA program, or a catechist shows up for class late and disorganized, the enemy will try to convince you that the Church isn't what it says it is.

I thought the last thing I love about the Church was the Pope. Ironically, it was this quote by Pope Benedict XVI that got me through the doubt:

"In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: “There is no God”. They suffer from his absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. They are “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace”. They ask questions of both sides. They take away from militant atheists the false certainty by which these claim to know that there is no God and they invite them to leave polemics aside and to become seekers who do not give up hope in the existence of truth and in the possibility and necessity of living by it. But they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if he belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others. These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practised. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible.

I wish Catholics, especially Priests, would pay more attention to the Pope. He is showing us how to build the Church back up.
4/6/2012 12:04:02 AM
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Dear Anonymous,

I too am an older unmarried woman. Yet, I feel I am so bound and embedded and belong to the Church. I don't see how being unmarried makes one feel one does not belong to the church. Is there a requirement of marriage?

I spend my time studying our faith and being involved in evanglization because I feel that that is so very much needed today.

Your feeling of not belonging because you are unmarried just makes absolutely no sense to me.

There is such a thing as being single and consecrated to the Lord without being a nun.

If Christ is our focus, I don't see how we can say we do not belong.

It is when we take our focus of Christ and focus on the I/me/myself that we get lost.

All the reasons that Fr Barron said are addressable all seemed to me a case of Me, Me, Me.

4/6/2012 4:31:28 AM
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May I say as well that this is due to the appaling lack of Catechesis.

I attended a Way of the Cross today which- in an attempt to be ecumenical- watered down the Church's teaching and gave downright false teachings.

At the 3 Pm veneration of the Cross, we got a very lame homily about God looking at you with loving eyes but the Priest had no idea why Jesus had to die and could not explain why people suffer.

If this is the best that we can give people, then no wonder people get seduced by the world and other denominations.
4/6/2012 4:39:29 AM
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I thought this was a great commentary by Father Barron. I have always sat during the homily and wondered how much do they teach in the seminary about presenting a homily. Sadly, probably not enough.
What caused me to write though was reading all the comments. Usually, reading on-line comments is akin to looking at a car wreck. You don't want to look, but you still do and you always regret it. However, almost all of the comments here were thoughtful and raised good points. What a nice change to see a thoughtful and polite discussion. How refreshing to not see insults flying or someone trying to impose their views unrelated to the subject. Hope springs eternal!
4/6/2012 5:10:16 AM
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Paul Rodden
Just reading our Holy Father's homily from the Chrism Mass:

After this homily, I shall be addressing that question to each of you here and to myself as well. Two things, above all, are asked of us: there is a need for an interior bond, a configuration to Christ, and at the same time there has to be a transcending of ourselves, a renunciation of what is simply our own, of the much-vaunted self-fulfilment. We need, I need, not to claim my life as my own, but to place it at the disposal of another – of Christ. I should be asking not what I stand to gain, but what I can give for him and so for others. Or to put it more specifically, this configuration to Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, who does not take, but rather gives – what form does it take in the often dramatic situation of the Church today? Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience, and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the question of women’s ordination, for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord. Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church? We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the Church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date. But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for all true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?
4/6/2012 6:15:49 AM
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Hypocrisy. Whether we recognize it for what it is or not. And, most destructive is when it comes from our church leaders. Bad preaching or good preaching, if the words are coming out of the mouth of one who does not walk his talk, it becomes like a betrayal... a lie. That is deeply offensive.

Perhaps a good opportunity to to look beyond the behavior, try to love more, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
4/6/2012 7:59:12 AM
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I think our children have left the church because they think it is too time consuming and want to do other things instead. They want to sleep instead of attending Mass. It breaks my heart.
4/6/2012 8:34:38 AM
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If you want good and correct guidance, go to the Old Testament Readings and the Gospel messages. They don't only pertain to past times, they are still relevant, which is why The Bible is called the Living Word. God walks with you and teaches you, and gives advice through the stories in the Bible. It's a beautiful experience. A well prepared homily-one without hidden agendas, will support the text, with Biblical knowledge. The Holy Spirit will gently guide and give advice to those who ask God for guidance. It takes daily a commitment, and being open to God's word to enter into this type of relationship with God, but it's a loving and beautiful way to receive God's guidance.
4/6/2012 9:20:14 AM
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Marianne-We are the primary educators of our children's faith. It does get tiring to apply the discipline necessary to deepen their faith-filled experiences. First of all, practice your faith daily. Modeling means a lot to kids. Try to adjust their sleep patterns so they can make it to mass. Go to a Family Religious Conference as part of your family vacation, and send them to a Youth conference like Steubenville's, or take them on a family pilgrimage. There are active Life Teen programs which will help to nurture their faith-filled practices, as well. If you provide structure, and not allow them to fall into lazy habits, it is easier. Healthy boundaries are everything to raising teens.
4/6/2012 9:49:10 AM
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My family is slowly changing parishes. We have listened to our two new priests (of 2 years now) talk about $$$/collection at most Masses rather than the readings of the day, cut confession times, cut adoration, stop adult education, hire a protestant flavored music director/band, initiate a protestant VBS program, cut a solid high school CCD program so that financial smarts and archery classes could be taught, so on, so on. The problem that I see in my local church is that the TRUTH of the FAITH is not being taught consistantly from one priest to the next. Many people at my church seem to be way to interested in entertaining the parishioners, making Mass into some sort of rock concert, cutting good catechical programs so that protestant 'feel good' sorts of programs can be added, and avoiding teaching the TRUTH of our FAITH!!!

Father, please remind our church leaders (VBS directors, priests, bishops, etc.) that churches are not places of business trying to make money, entertaining parishioners, etc., but they are rather places of worship. I am sad that my family will have to move after being in our church for almost 8 years. My children have been baptized there, some have received first communion, first confession, sang in the choir, have served as altar boys, etc.. It is our home!!! But, my husband and I have to look out for our children. They (and my husband and I) must find a Church that is going to guide us on our journey, not try to make us 'feel good' with politically correct talk, talk about the weather, etc..

Right now, I am joyously pregnant with my 7th child and am most especially saddened by the fact that most--meaning 99.9%--of my Catholic brothers and sisters are not aware of the churches teachings on sacrament of marriage and being open to LIFE!!! Why is this? Why do Faithful Catholics--like myself--have to feel like an 'odd-ball' when they announce a new pregnancy? Why do we have to search for 'good' parishes--meaning NON-PROTESTANT Catholic Churches? And what should we do when we find a 'good' parish and new management steps in, changes everything, and we have to move again? HUM!!!???

I am convert and was not aware of this problem until 2 years ago. I will continue to pray about this. Thanks, father for this report. I pray that all of our brothers and sisters in Christ will come home.

Christ, guide us!!! Amen. +++
4/6/2012 9:53:53 AM
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I can definitely relate to the parts of the video commentary. I am active in volunteering in my church, and I know the parish priest has a lot of responsibility with the elementary school demands, poor pledge responses for the diocesan stewardship and many financial woes. Because of these pressures, I assume, there have been conversations with my pastor where I’ve been spoken to in a short, impolite, and worst of all, very public fashion. I walked away from some conversations thinking that had that been anyone else, they would never return to mass again, let alone continue volunteering.

On another occasion, a really good man and fellow parishioner had a grandson pass away at birth and I wanted to attend the funeral. I had called the church receptionist to find out what day the funeral was being held, requested personal time off from work and arrived to an empty church. It was not the correct day, I was very frustrated, not only by the time off that I uselessly requested, but more importantly by not being there to offer my condolences personally. When I called the receptionist, she was very indifferent and didn’t seem to mind much about the mistake she had made.
4/6/2012 10:08:03 AM
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Patricia Cooper
No matter how poor the sermons, or how surly the telephone staff, I have to think that if someone leaves the Church they didn’t understand why there were there to start with. No where else can you get the sacraments. If they really comprehended that it is Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist his forgiveness in confession, his grace in abundance, they would never leave. If they saw the Church as their mother, in all her magnificence, beauty and wisdom they wouldn’t leave, they couldn’t leave. Like St. Peter they would say “ Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
4/6/2012 10:43:52 AM
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Catholic leave the Church because of they don't read the Bible and they don't really know foundation of the Christian faith. they know some prayer from their mouth not from their heart, most of them are clueless. I'm the Baptist, I read my Bible almost every day and I understand what the Catholic Church teaching. You got to be deeply in love with Father, Son and Holy Spirit for go to Mass. Because Mass don't teach you or explain the basic like other Baptist Churchs
4/6/2012 10:58:02 AM
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Carla Lies
Paul-to say that people are leaving the church because of self-absorption or nacissism, is an over-simplification. The Holy Father stated that the configuration to Christ is a precondition to all renewal. I would add that we are also called, like Christ, to not be led or fooled by the evil that surrounds us, in all arenas of life. We need to discern and avoid being pulled into the societal norms which can embrace evil. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, some Pastors have embraced evil. Some have bought into the lies that sin has offered. I'll never forget when a Pastor said "I didn't see one religious icon in their home, so by the time I was finished talking to this young girl, she was ready to go have that abortion, I was called in to counsel her about." Wait, hold on, What???!!! (another bad, scary homily.) Remember when Christ said "Get behind me Satan!", in our love and commitment to God, we need to say the same thing, when we encounter evil. Otherwise we allow ourselves to be misled, too. Christ is our guide, and conformity to Christ is our call.
4/6/2012 1:14:27 PM
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Jim and Maria,

You’re right, my ‘me’ perspective is a personal level, a spiritual revealing, and I am sincerely grateful for your response. It is your response that has brought me to an awareness that I have an opportunity in this to grow deeper in my spiritual life, my Faith. Making more room for Him … dying to one’s self… more of Him and less of ‘me’.

Like all parishioners, I have had bad experiences and I think if we could recognize more of the human in the Priest, perhaps we could fill in when we see these human weaknesses… concupiscence. Doing the right thing by loving the other as other and pulling out God’s love when they aren’t or can’t. Is this not a way to support them?

It is not a matter of not belonging, it is a matter of not fitting in. I do belong and there is a fine line between the two. I participate in the Sacraments, I go to daily Mass, reconciliation at least every 3 weeks and frequent adoration. I am there because I am very in love with God. I hate some of the behavior and maintain by trying to keep my focus on Him. He is the one that keeps me there. Nothing anybody can do will cause me to leave the Catholic Church.

I am thinking and am sorry I have not been clear. Such a random comment I made. I have been a Lector, part of the Women’s Guild (at 51, I was the youngest one) and was part of it just to be of service to the Guild itself (that was my secret); I was in the Bible study group for years.

To expound on the bad experiences I have had would only bring scandal to parishioners and leaders in the church. I love them more than that. There is such truth in the scapegoat… can we rise above that in our own selves? Do we trust God enough to know if we do the right thing, putting Him first, following His Way, Truth and Life that He will defend us? Truly live the Christian life. In my limited knowledge, that means going to the person directly, in the most kind and loving way that is humanly possible. And, in my experience with that I have seen scandal and scapegoating… and, I do see that for what it is.

Joy is a magnet, it’s highly attractive and I’ve become an expert at hiding my joy. Why? I don’t want the attention, simple as that…. it’ s easier that way… there’s a lot in that (i.e., judgment, pride, etc.) and that’s why I’m in confession. I do belong. I belong to Him. I just don’t know where I fit in the Catholic Church. Or maybe I’m just looking for that place that doesn’t exist this side of Heaven again. The good part is that I know I have had bad experiences and that is what they are. If it changes my relationship with God at all, I think it helps me to draw closer to Him and in turn, loving His people regardless.. and only through God’s Grace. Easy? No.

Yes, I do know of the consecrated life.

Can you imagine how difficult it could be to find a spiritual director willing to help someone who has been confused and/or hurt by his brother Priest.

I truly feel for and love the Priests and religious who have given their life to God, no matter what they do… it is so inexpressibly sad to me. And, I do know firsthand there are good faithful Godly Priests out there. Do we have a right to expect more from them, yes, I think so but, we have to do our part too and sometimes, that means filling in. That’s the no to a no producing the yes.

We have to have that personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ first because you can’t give what you don’t have. The questions is, how big is our yes to God?
4/6/2012 1:28:45 PM
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A lot or religious rhetoric these days has been focused on how secularism and modernism has moved way from religious institutions and tradition, but I can’t help but wonder if the Catholic Church so at its own pace moving away from modern society. It seems like a divide is being created and that, I, a young adult living in a very liberal community have to make a choice, am I a Catholic or am I a citizen in my community. These two aspects of my life are pulling away from each other. I have friends with whom I am a Catholic, and friend with whom I am purely secular.
My question is, what are Churches doing to bridge this divide? It seems that more and more a specific community exists around a church, while the church does little to be part of the community that surrounds it. When my father was young in rural Texas, a Catholic Church was more of a community center. They had softball tournaments, potluck dinners, concerts, and dances. People from all over town, no matter what religion, took advantage of the space and organization the Church offered.
No a days, I go to Church most Sundays, I have no idea what goes on at the Church on weekday nights or Saturday afternoons. I simply don’t know. As a result, Church is something I do on Sunday. I live my faith privately. As a Catholic, I want to get to know my fellow parishioners, I want to get to know the priests, I want my non-Catholic and non religious friends to see more of the Church than what exists in newspaper headlines. I want them to see an open and welcoming Church which organizes art shows, hosts lunches, and movie showings. I want the Church to meet me half way in making it part of my daily life.
4/6/2012 1:50:57 PM
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Archbishop O'Conner, during a homily at St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC, that the Church IS Christ crucified;bleeding, broken, spat at,crowned with thorns, judged, betrayed, pierced, burdened with a cross. He also said, without the Church, how would we have ever heard of Christ to begin with?
If someone runs from crucifixion, indeed, never anticipated any kind of crucifixion within their life, where can they possibly go to? There is no place of shelter, because every mode of living will find them worn and empty...and we, as a community of Faith have an opportunity to grasp their hand, and reorient them to the present, the moment, the now, the forever Love God has for them. And only one comment here has mentioned evil: oh, let us not forget the enemy, who scatters and shatters and rages over the Mercy of our Lord's victory. God Speed!
4/6/2012 3:54:30 PM
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I haven't left the Catholic Church and don't mean to, but lately I've become very frustrated with my parish. Recently, in the midst of the controversy surrounding the HHS mandate, I volunteered to be a "parish leader" for Catholic Advocate to provide information and encourage my fellow parishoners to write their Congressional representatives to support conscience rights for religious organizations. I wrote to my pastor asking him for permission to distribute letters after the Masses and for a bulletin insert. I received no response whatsoever. That might have been ok (it's not about me as Fr. Barron is fond of saying and I've become fond of repeating)had our parish sought to address the issue in some other way, but it did not. Not only was it rude to fail to address my letter, but I got the real sense that the pastor was most definitely NOT on board with the reinstitution of conscience rights. Yet precious time was devoted to raising money for the archdiocese, money I would have been glad to contribute, but did not as a consequence of the failure of my pastor to stand up in defense of our church in these trying times. I don't intend to give up on my efforts to persuade our parish to respond to this attack, but this whole episode has saddened me greatly. If my attachment to the Church were weaker, I can see the temptation to stray. So, here's an instance of a pastor pushing a dedicated parishoner and former daily communicant AWAY from the Church!
If anyone has any suggestions for me as to how to deal with this situation, I'd be grateful!
4/6/2012 8:03:15 PM
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This is such an important topic and the comments that have proceeded do highlight an important thing: The Church lives when each individual takes personal responsibility for their relationship with God and with others. I think the notion of 'service' has fallen out of favour. We have seen a devaluing of this notion within the Priesthood and Laity, with the rise of secularism, materialism, and the contemporary obsession with 'self'. We all have a duty to serve God and others, and whilst the 'how' differs according to our state in life, we mustn't forget what our primary vocation is. How best do I serve? What is getting in the way of me serving God and others better? What changes do I personally need to make? How can I help others in their vocation to serve God and their fellow human beings? These questions do not fade in the face of abuse or disappointment, but become all the more pertinent. If we see an individual Church member failing in some way, or a poor response from a collective body in the Church, then the question do we go about addressing or rectifying the failing? If we all entered into this contemplation, and followed it with directed action, then the Church would be reinvigorated I'm sure. It was so pleasing to read of examples from other contributors who have stayed and addressed matters of concern, sometimes at great sacrifice, in the pursuit of truth, goodness and charity. Christ's standard is what we must aim for, and though many of us fail miserably, the standard is to be cherished, honoured and forever sought, in the midst of every kind of personal circumstance, and every kind of experience of the Church.
4/6/2012 9:01:47 PM
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I have recently returned to the church out of a desire for the truth, the pairing of answers to questions I had for years that went unanswered. I eventually strayed but thought I was seeking truth. I wish I would have pressed the church for answers at the time. But I am ever grateful to the priest who got me started looking again at the teaching of the Catholic church after discovering how shallow much of what I had been entertained with in other churches really was. The Catholic church has the truth, handed down through the ages and apostolic tradition. It has not waivered on the tenets of its faith when all other denominations have eventually fallen to secularism and modernism. Many have exspressed the need for stronger catechesis. I concur. We need to provide many opportunities for the teaching of the Catholic faith.
4/7/2012 12:19:48 AM
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Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for the clarification.

I too don't feel I fit in my parish but I know I fit in the Church. I think it is important to make that distinction. While your parish is the expression of Christ's church in our millieu, THE Church is bigger than our individual parishes.

I am not a very social person so I suppose not fitting in the Parish is not a big thing for me as I have never felt the need to fit, just to belong.

I am also quite vocal when I see or hear things that are not quite right so that doesn't go well with people who prefer not to "make waves".

But because I know Christ loves me and wants me there then I belong and for me that is enough.

I think what you have done (going to the person directly) is the right way. There will always be scapegoating and scandal even when we do the right thing and I think it is precisely because we do the right thing. In this case, all I can say is that the prophets were persecuted for speaking the truth and speaking for God. I don't think that has changed in this so called "enlightened" times.

Sin will always fight being exposed to the light.

And thought it is a difficult thing to do, "admonish the sinner" remains part of the spiritual works of mercy. Perhaps the trouble that ensues is God's way of making us participate in the "redemptive suffering".

4/7/2012 12:27:44 AM
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Patricia Cooper, I think you have hit the nail right on the head.

You wrote: "No matter how poor the sermons, or how surly the telephone staff, I have to think that if someone leaves the Church they didn’t understand why there were there to start with."

And that in a nutshell is what it's all about. So it again boils down to poor catechesis.

If people know why they are there, (that they are there because of JESUS)then when this parish goes sour they can still remain because they are theere because of Christ. They can also go to Mass at another parish - they don't have to leave the Church altogether, so long as they know why they are there.

But because I think most Catholics have no real idea about why they go to Mass and are clueless as to the Mass's enormous value, then when they feel affronted they leave becuase their hold on their faith is flimsy.

So many above have written of having had really bad experience but they have stayed (Anonymous and others) precisely becuase they know what matters - and that Is Jesus.

So in the end, it does fall on the priest for failing to use the time alloted for the homily to give good catechesis. It is the Parish priest who drives the direction of the parish.

I read of a Parish Priest who started including apologetics in his homilies and his flock increased far beyond the parish demarcation lines.

The people are hungry, we need to feed them else they will look for food elsewhere.

If people knew the awesomeness of the Eucharist how can one really leave?
4/7/2012 12:43:01 AM
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An Anonymous Fool
I read a few of the comments from the others. I apologize in advance if I am repeating a theme that someone else has already expressed.

99.9% of the time I agree with 100% of what Fr. B says :-). This is one of those 0.1% where I have a minor issue with his analogies and some broader comments about the topic.
I don't think the Catholic Church is a corporation. I don't think it should be compared to one. I don't think Catholics are Customers. I don't think they should be treated as such. I agree that Priests have some preparation to do w.r.t their homilies. I agree that the Church should be kind in its dealings with Parishioners. All of that is sound advice. However, Fr. B, you did not mention prayer in the list of things the Priest has to do in preparation. Neither did you mention the priests’ holiness or conviction. I'll assume that you presume that to be a pre-existing clause of such preparation.

I, however, hoped for a better analogy than corporations and customers. Maybe a Shepard who takes care of his sheep or a parent that cares for his children, in that the care giver has a much greater and stronger bond with the ones in his care than a corporation has with its customers.

Over the last 3-4 centuries what has come to roost (over time) in the Catholic Church is the nonsensical notion that the Church exists to appease and appeal to its parishioners. This isn't a brand of soap that you get tired of and you go seeking a "better" brand from another corporation. I guess in our culture where Parents kowtow to the desires and whims of their children, it isn't surprising that there is an expectation that the Church kowtow to the Parishioner. So maybe Parents and Children isn’t an apt analogy considering the times.

My point - the Church doesn’t exist to appeal to you - the parishioner. Get over it. You the parishioner are a part of the Church because, simply put, you want to be a part of Body of Christ and the Church he founded. This is the Rock against which the gates of the netherworld will not prevail. Not Proctor and Gamble.

The homilies don't appeal to you! Too bad - put some extra effort into it. Prepare. Study the readings, ahead of time. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give insight into how they apply to you in your life. Apply the truth to your life. Pray, Meditate, Fast. Then come to Mass. Focus on the rituals. Pay attention to what the Priest is doing. Learn about what each of those actions mean. Focus on the words. Center your attention on Christ. Sing the hymns. Pay attention to the words - not how good or bad the Choir is. Offer your time, talent and treasure to the Church until it hurts. Fix your imperfections. Ask for the intercession of your Guardian Angel and the Blessed Virgin to root out the plank in you. Need I go on? Have you done all this? Feel you have mastered all of this? Go perfect it some more, then complain.

This is the Catholic Church. The Keys of which were given to St. Peter. ("And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it").
This isn't a brand, or a product or a service. The only purpose it has is to save your soul. The only purpose you have to want to be a part of it is that the Holy Spirit brought you there and you willingly accepted that invitation and want to have your soul saved.

You want ex-Catholics to return to the Church? Then those in the Church need to start living the Life they are called to live - a life of prayer, fasting and alms giving; a life of loving God and neighbor. Suffer joyously for Christ. Set the example. Live the life. The light shall then shine. No one can then resist the light of Truth.

In Christ
An Anonymous Fool
4/7/2012 1:30:55 AM
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I found this site tonight because I just watched you preach on the last words of Christ on the Cross and found it very moving. I took notes to try and share your interpretations and remember to live my life as God wants me to live it. This video made me smile because I have been talking to friends this week about this very topic. I am 53 years old and was raised Catholic and have never thought about leaving the church. I also have never felt comfortable going to ask a Priest for help before this week. We have a new Pastor and I have been enjoying his homilies and felt him to be very approachable. I have helped with the RCIA this year and two weeks before the Easter Vigil have had some very serious concerns about something and felt that someone I am very close to needed some additional prayers and support before receiving baptism, communion and confirmation. I expressed my concern that this person was doing things dangerous to his own life and he had such hatred in his heart towards me for trying to help him that I felt he needed more help than I was able to provide him before receiving the sacraments. I left a message for the Pastor on voice mail and talked to the RCIA staff. I also made an appointment to talk to the Pastor with his administrative assistant. Instead of listening to my concerns when I met with 1 staff member and the Pastor, I was told by the Pastor that the staff told him I was "badgering" the staff. I was also told that he was too busy with Holy Week coming up to take the time to look into my concerns. I was told it was best that another Godparent/Sponsor be assigned to this person because the person felt he was being pressured by me. I admit it might have seemed like pressure to this person because he knew that my daughter and I knew what behaviors he was engaging in prior to receiving the sacraments. He asked for new Godparents/sponsor because he knew the new individuals would not know about these behaviors and would be fooled by lies. I accepted the idea of new Godparents/sponsor, but truly did not badger the staff, and actually did not say some of the things that were reported to have been said. I am still fearful for the life of this person, but am leaving it entirely up to prayer now. I did feel the need to attend Palm Sunday services at a different Catholic Church, and may need to stay at the other church for a while precisely because of reasons 1 and 3 that you gave. I am amazed that neither the Pastor nor any of the 4 RCIA staff have attempted to contact me in the past week since I met with the Pastor. I am hoping it will happen after Easter, but I am so worried that too much time will have passed for this person I am worried about by then. My faith is strong enough that I won't leave the church for reasons 1 and 3 that you cited, but I did feel them that's for sure. I've left the parish for now, but I had been hoping to increase my involvement with the church, especially next year's RCIA program, but I don't see that happening. I know people are busy, but I was told that if it wasn't a medical emergency that it would have to wait. I saw this as a spiritual emergency, which may turn into a medical emergency, but instead I feel that I am the one being questioned for my motives or behaviors. I do believe in the power of prayer and have given it up to that. Now I do understand why some leave the church and why many don't go to a priest to ask for help. I will remain Catholic, but hope more and more Pastors and Priests listen to what you said in this video as a result of that survey. I will be looking into your books and published materials as I so enjoyed your interpretation of Jesus' final words on the cross. Thanks!
4/7/2012 2:06:30 AM
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Robbie J
I'm with the RCIA program in my parish. Recently, I had occasion to counsel two of our catechumens not to be put off by the bad behavior sometimes exhibited by Catholics. After all, the church is more of a "hospital for sinners than a hotel for saints."
As the early converts were drawn toward the faith by the love shown between fellow Christians ("see how they love one another")I believe that it is equally true that people drift away for the opposite reason. Add to that a poor understanding of the Catholic faith and you have what I believe is a major contributing factor in why Catholics leave.
God bless you, Fr. Barron.
4/7/2012 4:22:05 AM
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scott spence
I read around half or a little more of the comments and realized that only one makes reference to the Eucharist and only one comment refers to confession. We as Catholics refer to the other "Christians" as trying to entertain. Well, why can't it be warm and friendly, congenial at mass? Why does it seem like a party afterwards, but prior to look at the faces it would appear to be a deathmarch. It is often too easy to point the finger at symptoms to explain the problem, however, that just delays the real solution. The real solution is found in each one of us, the laity, priests, bishops, everyone. The reason we should go to mass is not to be entertained, although a nice thing, mass is reserved for proper worship of God, the representation of the sacrifice on calvary and in turn our consumption of our Lords body, blood, soul and divinity. The Church today is filled with many who do not speak the Truth of our faith. Why, I suspect they don't believe it themselves. Regardless, Jesus is a personal savior, not an institutional savior. The Church is filled with many people working out their personal faith with fear and trembling. The real answer to the question has more to do with all of us making more use of the sacraments, allowing and relying on them to change our lives from the inside out, a developing prayer life and a clearer idea of the warlike conditions of our society, ie., that what you do does matter regardless of whether it is seen by others or not.
4/7/2012 5:43:38 AM
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To the Anonymous Fool:


and thanks. You really are the best!
4/7/2012 12:50:01 PM
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A Note To Posters - Folks, some of you write dense page long paragraphs that are just too much to puzzle through.

If you want your words read by others, then Sentence and Paragraph Structure is Important.

Many of you with something to say - are failing to say it - in a way others can read without straining our eyes.
4/7/2012 2:56:26 PM
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Anonymous Fool you are certainly no fool.

Brilliant! Simply Brilliant!
4/8/2012 2:03:21 AM
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Anonymous Fool, I love what you wrote but do not agree 100
% with this with this: "The homilies don't appeal to you! Too bad - put some extra effort into it."

My quibble with homilies is not so much with what appeals to me (I do my research so can't say I rely on the homily to expound the text for me) but more on how it affects the ordinary person on the pew.

What I worry about are the people out there who are not exactly "learning" inclined and the only access they have to an exposition of the Word is via the homily.

It concerns me particularly when I hear priests give false teachings (and of late there have been a few of those) because they want to give a "feel good" homily.

This is a major issue for me because of I think of how this is leading the congregation astray.

But what I have been doing however is speaking to the priest whenever they say something not quite right. I think those who have studied their faith have a duty to do so.

If we feel the shepherd is leading the sheep the wrong way, we need to speak up.

4/8/2012 2:13:32 AM
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It is refreshing to see that SOMEONE is at least interested in fact that Catholics are leaving, and that there was an attempt to find out why! Also refreshing, good on you Fr. Barron, to point out there are things we can do about it!
As I see it, poor evangelisation is the root of all the problems of the church. People just don't KNOW ENOUGH. Faith comes by hearing ... scripture says. However, our shephards need to be more spiritual, again, lack of evangelisation ... theology and facts are important yes ... but more important is a personal relationship with Jesus ... this can be taught to a degree, but it is more experiencial ... teach our shephards more about the Holy Spirit side of God, the gifts of the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit, and the Baptism of Fire Prayer ... once they get that, they develop HUMILITY, and that is the springboard to a good pastor who LOVES LOVES LOVES his people. Then you get GOOD CHURCH!!! Kindness kindness kindness goes a LONG LONG LONG WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love your people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4/8/2012 8:48:57 AM
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The simple reason people leave the Catholic Church:
...we ask nothing great of them!

We may teach/preach our great faith...we may imply or tell them what they should do...but...very,very rarely in homilies or pastoral/ministerial/apostolate contact does anyone look them in the eye and ask something great of them...I mean on a personal basis: e.g., "...Joe or Sarah, I need you to do...for the Church, for the parish and for me...I am counting on you..."!

A "great" theologian said this (about a pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C)...not me...his name: Abraham Lincoln during the worst years of the Civil War..."...he failed because he asked nothing great of us..." A. Lincoln @1863 (as recorded by his aide one Sunday morning)'
4/8/2012 1:10:02 PM
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To anonymous Fool,
I agree. I love Fr Barron and this is a very difficult subject. It comes down to knowing...our faith as it is taught in the CCC and most of all having a relationship with Jesus based on this faith. PRAY for holy priests for the future and pray for our current ones who have hurt us, ignore us and do not show the love of Jesus. Perhaps they too are a product of poor catechesis.
4/8/2012 5:04:27 PM
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Eileen M
4/8/2012 8:08:15 PM
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In answer to Maria, with you my love. We DO need to speak up when things are said wrong, or not at all. We DO need to SPEAK up period! I know for a fact that a LOT OF CATHOLICS aren't happy about a lot of things, but they DON'T say anything. It's time to stand up and speak ... IN LOVE AND LOVINGLY, but WE ARE THE CHURCH, ALL OF US, don't leave it to the few gutsy ones. I'm one of those gutsy ones, but strength in numbers folks ... approach your shepherds, again lovingly, but speak up ... there are HUGE needs in our church, and we ALL can do something to enhance, we can ALL give ... poor priests can't do everything, nor should they have to ... if you complain, then stop doing that, and start offering your help ... don't think you know enough? The greatest saints knew little, but loved a lot, that's all it takes, the rest comes with time. Fire up folks, our church needs us!!!!!!!!!!
4/8/2012 10:20:16 PM
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At a Protestant church service the centerpiece is the sermon or the talk/reflection, but not at a Catholic church. It seems from this small reflection on Fr Barron's video that many of us just don't believe in the tenets of our faith. To like or dislike a part of the Holy Sacrifice of the mass should not be a part of our Sunday, everyday or just major feast day interest.
4/9/2012 5:25:33 AM
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For the last 9 or 10 months I’ve been reading this website, this is the first time my stomach turned. When I saw this, I thought I’d wait it out and see because honestly, I couldn’t and still don’t believe this analogy is coming from Fr. Barron. If he really believed this analogy was good enough to use, there would have been other signs before now. I mean, seems he could be having at least some of us drinking purple kool aid if this was a fact.

This is simply not something he would say. I would have to hear more to be convinced that he didn’t have some other purpose or plan in mind when he did this. And, if by chance he didn’t, most likely I would not frequent the site as I do now.. who knows, I may not come back at all.

Either way, if nothing else this homily has certainly made a difference for and in me. Oh yea, it’s moved me alright. Moved me to a point where although I have stepped up and said things in the past, usually I have waited until I’ve been pushed too far, seen too much. Oh, I’ll still wait it out, but not so long anymore.

I’m still waiting Father, please tell us all why we should not turn God’s church into a market place by comparing it to a corporation selling a product to customers.
4/9/2012 7:09:12 AM
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I'm not sure what you heard, but perhaps you should listen to this commentary (not a homily) again. This was a commentary on a survey which addressed why people have left the Church. He addressed the difference in topics-the hot button topics such as women's ordination, and gay marriage-topics that the church cannot waiver on, to more easy to solve problems, such as kindness, compassion, and follow-up in communication. Father Barron was not comparing the church to a corporation. He was saying, If a corporation can use positive communication skills as a "best practice," then we can do it too." I agree with Father Barron. There is a lot that the church can do, to reinforce consistent application of those Christian principles, to respond to the questions and needs, coming from the depths of the human heart.
4/9/2012 10:29:52 AM
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I would love to have my parish priest reach out to me. It's not the teachings, the theology, the homilies, etc. It's fitting in with prominent Regnum Christi crowd. I'm not ready to go back to the Latin mass and Pre-Vatican II. I want to move forward with my faith, not backwards. They show disdain for not embracing their Catholic faith - as if it's exclusively Catholic & I am not Catholic enough. So for now, I am thoroughly enjoying reading and listening to Word on Fire. My daily ritual has changed. I read the daily readings, I contemplate them and think about them. I pray much more with more faith. I share with my family and friend and am trying to obtain the strength of faith the RC does not push me away again from my Church. I AM Catholic enough.
4/9/2012 10:44:32 AM
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Hi Carla,

Yea, thanks, I saw after the fact I used the word homily. I did mean commentary and did go back and listen to it again. I try to listen to all of them more than once so I can be sure I understand best I can. I’m really bugged by this and I don’t mean to come across irrationally or judgmental, or in any way hurt anybody’s feelings. Please know I just gotta say..

God’s church is not a business… no matter what or how the government categorizes it. And an analogy is a synonym for a comparison. The analogy of the corporation does not work for me in regards to God’s Church. That is my opinion and responsive post to this commentary… lousy analogy. Sorry Father, I still love you.

My understanding of the commentary was the pointing out of survey results and what could be addressed on the local level v. what must come out of Rome. I do agree and believe it good to use “best practice” of our faith. But, how are we doing on that?

Nobody on this earth can read the depths of the human heart, that’s what God does. He told us what the two most important Commandments were and we can’t even do that. Some of us don’t even try. The Anonymous Fool is right. Very specifically in that we must live the Christian life and yes, that does mean suffering. We must have that intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ first. The rest is up to God. It’s not something we control or we do, it’s something that happens when we whole heartedly give our lives to God. It is a true Yes to HIM. We are not building the Church, He’s the one building His Church through us.

Or does somebody know something God doesn’t know?

I agree. The local parish, or we, as the Body of Christ can do things to become or be a part of that body, to be that change. It is my belief that it MUST and does start with us individually. All of us… and I mean EVERY one of us. Are we turning that cheek for Christ? Are we gossiping? Are we compassionate? Do we love God with our whole hearts putting no other “gods” before Him? Do we pray on our decisions asking for discernment and wisdom? Do we ask God to increase our faith and if we don’t, WHY NOT?

I just cannot believe that Fr. Barron could preach the way he does if he truly believed in his own analogy.
4/9/2012 11:50:08 AM
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To an anonymous fool,

I appreciate what your message says, and I do agree with much of what you’re saying. I agree every individual could do more to “get more out of mass”, one could read the scripture passages before entering mass, listen to a unique perspective from different homily given by priest on line, maybe even arrive at mass early and pray for an openness of heart to receive the message from the day’s mass.

But I also feel that Fr. Barron has a point. While it is impossible to manage and entire congregation and notice when just anyone leaves the church for another, but I would argue that there are perhaps active parishioners, folks who regularly attend mass, public who have a report with their church, and abruptly stop attending are people who are worth approaching and reaching out to.

I will never forget the one time I attended a non-denominational Christian service at the request of a friend of mine who had left the Catholic Church. Upon arriving, there was a greeter who immediately identified that I was new to their church, he greeted me very cheerfully, introduced himself and requested that I provide my contact information to keep in touch. I was greeted by several others in their group and received a very warm welcome. It wasn’t until they started the “healing” and the loud party type worshiping started that I began looking at my watch waiting for it to end, but a few days later I received a letter in the mail telling me how grateful they were for having me, left a contact for me to call if I had any questions, and stated that they would love to have me back there next week. I knew that the Catholic Church is home, but I’ll never forget how welcome they made me feel.

In high school during religion class, the topic of why people are leaving the Catholic Church came up, and some of the things in the video commentary were mentioned. My religion teacher, as an example, commented that when she moved to the area from another state, she registered with a new Catholic Church and attended mass regularly. Several months had passed before a few people had come up to introduce themselves to her. Upon asking an Evangelical friend of hers how long it would have taken before someone introduced themselves, the response was that within a week someone would have at a minimum, invited her for tea or coffee.

If we’re to love our neighbors as ourselves, then one simple, effective, positive step that can be done is to employ some of the items in the video commentary, especially to folks who have the same faith as us.
4/9/2012 1:15:13 PM
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Occasionally I'll do follow-up checks on a previous pastor who I witnessed go through some serious ups and downs in his practices. I can usually tell by his writing if he is "in the light." It really gave me hope when I read recently (paraphrasing) that he had been reflecting on the eucharistic text of "take and eat." By saying this, he realizes that he must genuinely apply those words to himself, and he needs to speak them with truth and generosity, to enable him to offer himself as a gift to others in need (he was reflecting on a papal document.) He continued on to say that people have the right to expect him to live in pastoral charity, to direct their path and nourish their hope. Now, he was always making me cry (my husband would take one look at my face and know who said mass) but this time, they were tears of happiness, not pain, when I read his latest. It's good to have hope. Those words are good for any priest to reflect on, who is struggling with their spirituality.
4/9/2012 7:48:52 PM
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Awesome post !!

I loved the truly "Catholic" diversity in comments and thoughts :)

Satan has no more chess moves left from Pope Leo XIII's vision and now this post and all it's fervor only proves we are all going to start to witness the power of God and what His church truly can do...




Hold on my brothers and sister's in Christ, it's God's turn to move and He is the real chess Master...

Master of it ALL!

Keep seeking...
4/9/2012 9:00:09 PM
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MMJ wrote: "The simple reason people leave the Catholic Church:
...we ask nothing great of them!

I agree with you on that one. Muscle that is not used atrophies. I think we certainly see signs of that in our parishes.

Many years ago I asked our parish Priest if we could have a Bible study/meditation group. All I needed was the use of the parish room and maybe an announcement after Mass inviting those who would like to join. His answer was: "people are already too busy so that would be asking too much."

I was not talking about "forcing" them but asking those who are willing to give up precious time for something that will help with their faith development.

I feel that sometimes Parish Priests are too much in the world that they forget that they are also supposed to be not OF it.

What is interesting is that I saw in this parish so many liturgical abuses. We really need to pray for our priests that they will realize the awesomeness of this gift.
4/9/2012 10:34:00 PM
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In His DVD on the Eucharist, Fr Barron recounted a conversation with his sister regarding this very matter.

His sister said something like: such and such are leaving the church for denomination X becuase of reason Y (read into that vibrant music, fellowship, etc).


Unless we can communicate that to adult Catholics and unless they can understand that, then it is easy to forsake the meat for the candy.
4/9/2012 10:45:06 PM
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A follow up to my recent post. I went to the Easter Vigil and truly felt Jesus' presence during the sacraments received by my daughter's ex fiance and 18 others. I was happy I went, he was pleasant and thankful to us afterwards. I believe he changed back into the person he was that night, and evil forces no longer surrounded him. So thankful and will never forget that night.
Only problem, the 4 catechists of the class did not give me eye contact or speak to me despite the fact that I was near each of them several times. I did not attempt to speak, as did not want to continue my "badgering". Decided to give it to the end of the week to see if anyone contacts me then I will write to the pastor explaining my side of the story and why I do not feel comfortable in his parish (I still do not know what he was told from the other side of the story, but thinking it must have had alot of evil untruths for them to be acting this way). I still would never leave the Catholic faith.
4/10/2012 8:38:05 AM
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follow up video link -
4/10/2012 11:07:37 AM
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Being a multicultural person who has been to several Christian denomination churches, I have a lot to say about this topic. There is SO MUCH BULLYING going on in many churches, mostly in Protestant and Evangelical churches.

Many times people leave because they get bullied and the pastor is uncommunicative or he does not have e-mail.

I once complained in a long e-mail to an Anglican priest about the amount of abuse I suffered from his church and some other churches in my small city of the same denomination church – Anglican. Sadly, he was angry with me – it seems that priests/pastors do not like to hear anything negative – though our life is full of negative things happening to innocent and sweet people every day.

I briefed him a in long e-mail about the old married priest in his church who was lusting after me when I was kneeling in my pew, when I opened my eyes – to find an old priest who seated himself right next to me, taking advantage that his wife was not with him then.

Another complaint is the old woman in his church who had an epiphany women’s tea reception at her big house. Upon going there to worship and have some fun with other so-called like-minded Christian women, only to have that woman discriminating against me and calling me racist things when I was with her alone in her study – taking advantage that we were alone, as a lack of witness.

When I told him about that bigot woman, he defended her by saying that she went thru so much pain in her life. Wow what a justification/rationalization or excuse. We all have had pain, our Master had His biggest pain; yet Jesus and I did not hurt others at all!

I wish if her heart is as big as her house!

Overall, being in North America living in a culture that promotes mostly the Anglo culture, Catholics are more persecuted; hence they are the denomination that I was hurt the least from. Although I have seen red flags in my current Catholic church from women whom I try to keep my distance from.

I pray for a good holy genuine Christian friends in my current church. God created us for relationship. Satan uses those weak phony Christians to hurt us so that we stop trusting anyone.
The sad reality is when I share these stories with other parishioners, I get silence. They do not share in return which breaks my heart and makes me realize that those people got hurt and they stopped trusting anyone…even when they share they own suffering stories with others.

I once heard an American preacher say:

“People are hurting enough and they do not need a bunch of RUDE CHRISTIANS to hurt them more! “ Wow I couldn’t say it any better. Kudos and may God continue to protect us from Jerks while we continue to worship Him!!!

Certainly a good reason to write a book someday about the situation of Christianity in the church in North America!
4/10/2012 1:38:35 PM
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Peter Boston
If Church leaders do not take the Faith seriously why should the parishioners?
4/10/2012 2:32:39 PM
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I've had a similar situation in the parish school of my own parish where I was working for several months. When all of a sudden the school principal started to manipulate me by doing nice things to me (of course for wrong motives). When I refused to cave in, he bullied me (covertly/subtly).

i complained to the HR. and lately to the Archbishop of the diocese who directed me to the HR of that school board. Sadly, none could do anything. Not even my parish priest.

However, at least I made them aware of what was going on in that "Catholic school` where every thing is about MONEY, MANIPULATING STAFF, MERCENARY. All this is done under the disguise of Religion and Catholic school and parish.

Having taken a stand for Jesus, I am so proud that my faith is # 1 in life.

Lately, I was reading an article on the web about that school board in which it stated that there were a number of Catholic schools that were scheduled for closure and my ex-school where I used to work and got bullied was among the FIRST scheduled for closure...due to some feedback given about those schools.

Can you Not see God's hand in that situation?

Bottom line is: when you complain, even when they do not seem to do something about it...God is working behind the scene and His vengeance will come anytime at His perfect timing, if we keep a positive attitude and keep praying for our enemy(ies).

God is trustworthy. faithful, and revengeful at His right timing.

God is AWESOME!!!
4/10/2012 4:43:04 PM
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These are all great points, and some of them really struck home, especially the part about poor preaching.

I would add that the responsibility for some of the other points isn't just on the parish priests and paid staff. There has to be an engaged and dynamic laity that make people feel welcome, that sing in the choir and sing in the pews, that organizes the 5ks and the bake sales, that run the food pantry or pray in 40 Days for Life. It's our church and our responsibility.

The most energizing church I've attended has a parish priest who touches on that message almost every week. He's got eight to ten kids lined up as alter servers, even if they just carry a candle at the start of Mass. He has a dozen eucharistic ministers, and a dozen hospitality ministers at each Mass plus a large choir. He asks for help, and has his lay leaders ask for help, almost every week. And it works; he has tremendously active ongoing Catholic education, marriage enrichment, elder care ministries, and many, many more. As one of the other commenters said, joy is contagious.

People like to be needed and like to participate. Sometimes they just need a little push.
4/10/2012 5:44:17 PM
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"After this, many of his disciples went back to their old ways, and walked no more in his company. Whereupon Jesus said to the twelve, Would you, too, go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom should we go? Your words are the words of eternal life; we have learned to believe, and are assured that you are the Christ, the Son of God."

People leave because they no longer have the sense that the Church has anything offer that they can't get elsewhere. In fearing to be triumphalistic, we have lost our security in our exclusive mandate to make manifest Christ's triumph to the world as He taught it to us. It's not just the bad preaching, it the bad Mass, and the bad commoditization of the Church in general.
4/10/2012 6:39:40 PM
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Yes, but be careful. It's not about vindication, it's about being healed....all of us being healed. First, I kept pretty quiet about the whole situation, while it was actively happening. After I was screamed at and threatened, I went home and recovered emotionally from the shock of it all. The principal told me that she didn't want to see me talking to any of the other parents either. Basically, for the entire school year, I was banned from socializing before and after school, and she watched me, too. She would come out and walk very close by me as a "reminder" if I ever did start talking to other parents about anything. I didn't blame or point accusations, I prayed-a lot for her, the situation and the teacher. A few days after that meeting with her, I was determined to show her (a new administrator, 1st year principal) who Christ "really" is.
Christ would come up with a solution so that the abuse wouldn't occur anymore. No hypocritical excuses! I sewed a solution.....two long pieces of fabric, so that on very hot days of over 100 degrees, the teacher could not purposefully burn kids bottoms by forcing them to sit directly on the hot black top (the 1st grade kids were crying and complaining.) The students could sit down on long rolls of fabric:)
This principal did grow from the experience, I believe, but still to this day has a very difficult time refraining from exerting excessive power and control, with both teacher's and parents. The Pastor should have provided remediation, but chose not to- unfortunately he had spiritual issues of his own he was dealing with. Since then, several teachers have walked out, after being screamed at by her, and I'm sure each time it happens, she learns a little more. It's still is difficult, but I just keep praying, and reminding myself that love conquers all.
4/10/2012 7:38:51 PM
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The Bible talks about "leave vengeance to the Lord." So why are we afraid to talk about it?

We can love and pray for someone who is in a position to hurt and fire us while waiting on God to take action on our behalf.

Up to now, I still have loving feelings to that principal despite what he did to me.

Overall, I heard many negative remarks about private schools and have no intention to work at private companies or institutions.

A teacher working at a public school told me when I told her about that school, she said, "Kids can easily misbehave in private schools bc they know they can get by with it. Unlike public schools where they can never do that.

It's really sad to know that Christian schools cannot be trusted and it's all about $$$, which is what one of my coworkers told me when I started to work in that Catholic school. I was able to find out very soon within my employment there.
4/10/2012 8:48:48 PM
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4/10/2012 10:56:43 PM
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Why Catholic leave?
Poor knowledge of the faith. A head level cathechisis that does not touch their lives. Favoritism among the hierarchy & clergy.Lack of authenticity among all clergy and laity. A lack of understanding that the church is human & holy. Jesus speaks to the thomases in the church to understand believe in His presence in the Church no matter what.
fr bosco
4/10/2012 11:57:19 PM
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why Catholics leave. Poor knowledge of the faith, a knowledge that does not touch their lives. Favouritism among the hierarchy and clergy. Poor PRO ON THE PART OF CLERGY.An understanding that the church is human and holy.
4/11/2012 12:02:11 AM
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Bottom line is...Evil is, no matter how long it seems to work is...SHORTLIVED!

The Bible told us already in Proverbs, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." We do ourselves a HUGE service when we keep in mind that biblical verse!
4/11/2012 6:23:28 AM
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Christine-All I know is I don't ever want to "feel and experience" God's vengeance. I try to love my enemy. God's reaction is of a very different magnitude than our human response could ever think of being. Most humans think in small scale because of our small problems. God is big, and his responsiveness can proportionately large scale. With the exception of when I think and pray about global issues, which I try not to focus/worry about too much anymore, my problems are miniscule. My problems, or my school's problems are very small scale, and don't call for "vengeance", but for individual love and healing. In order to love my enemy, I try to think of how damaged and hurt they must be, to have the responsiveness/reaction they had. I also try to take into account their experience and level of expertise. If they are of normal intellegence, older and more experienced, then their accountablility and understanding will/should be higher.
4/11/2012 10:14:57 AM
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Clara...I agree with you. But this school is Elementary, meaning it's composed of kids, and early teenagers. Kids are our future and they are the most innocent and vulnerable creatures.

Putting someone in authority of a children Christian education in a position of leadership such as Elementary Christian school principal makes it more critical for the people who selected him for that position to be more selective rather than just put someone who lacks character, integrity. and transparency.

additionally, that principal is middle aged. He must be a mature person with integrity, not just churchgoer. If he were young and atheist, I would have tolerated that.

All of us feel against injustice and the Bible says, "Wait on the vindication of the Lord, and He will vindicate us."

My goal is: I am NOT trying to rain on his parade. Contrary, I wish him all the best.

I am just trying to shed light on the reality that God IS and does EXIST in our suffering. He exacts His vengeance at His timing and his way.

Being Christian does not eliminate experiencing God's justice and vindication. We can do that with love, withOUT any mockery, sarcasm and hate toward our offender which is what I'm doing right now as I continue to pray for that principal every day wishing him God's best of blessings.

I really feel for those kids and their parents who trusted them to that Catholic school thinking that they are in safe hands when it's the opposite.

I just want to show everyone here the Presence of the Lord in our life against evil forces in the church.

I believe that Christian schools should be more selective when they assign school principals. Otherwise I would not trust my kids to any Christian school...if they're all like that.
4/11/2012 12:30:33 PM
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One of the reasons why people leave church apart from bullying and uncommunicative priest/pastor is judgmentalism. When parishioners feel they are being unfairly judged by the leader of the church or a parishioner. Things like being gay, smoker, divorced, single parent, living a sinful lifestyle, or simply being different from the rest of congregation.

I have seen wonderful people leave the church simply because they were living sinful lifestyle (couple living together without religious document).

I strongly believe this is one of the STRONGEST issues which All churches need to address and practice some love, charity, grace and acceptance to ALL visitors, parishioners and people desiring to join a church. Many of these people come looking for love and God. Sadly, they end up finding the opposite.

We need to remember that Jesus loved and mixed WITH sinners, even though He hated sin.
4/11/2012 3:13:43 PM
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I left the catholic church and the Lord led me into a relationchip with our savior Jesus Christ. I have complete confidence if you discover the truths in the bible HE WILL CALL YOU TO BE A CHILD OF GOD
4/11/2012 8:31:41 PM
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True..... and church isn't just a feel good place. It exists to help people learn to turn away from sin, and turn towards God, and remain in good grace so that we can be one in Christ. However I think it's important to understand that sin has a cause and effect relationship that is important to understand. You have to be cognizant of committing a sin. It's too confusing if I'm asking "What exactly did I do wrong? Why am I being disciplined? How long is this punishment going to last? Are there any other consequences coming my way? If so, why....?" If I don't understand the cause and effect of the punishment, then how can I expect to learn anything, except how to be afraid of the priest who is punishing me? Canon law spells out what is considered sin and what the remediations should look like, but even to an educated person, it is written in language very difficult to understand. The language is so complex, that after I read quite a bit of it, I lost count of how many times I asked myself "what does that mean?" For instance, what exactly is a medicinal remedy?
4/11/2012 9:23:12 PM
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We must judge the sin.

While it is true that we must love the sinner, we must hate the sin and make them realize that their lifestyle is indeed sinful.

Admonish the sinner and counsel the ignorant remains parts of the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

If a homosexual leaves the church because of a wilfull choice to practice this depravity then that is his choice. The reason we have the sacraments is to enable us to say no to that.

If a homosexual, divorced, cohabitting couple, leaves the church, then that would be because they value their sin more than Christ.

Christ does not condemn but neither does He say "go ahead, keep on sinning". The whole point of Christ's coming is to save us from sin.

But some people would say that this and that sin is not a sin. That is when they've walked away from Truth, from Christ.

The church's moral teaching is not there to ruin your fun. It is there to call you into life.

I like what a Protestant pastor once said: Christ loves you just the way you are but loves FAR TOO MUCH to leave you the way you are.

Those who leave the church because they want THEIR will to be done, has chosen to remain in darkness.

In the end when one leaves the church because of the above reasons, then it is because they follow the UNHOLY TRINITY of I/Me/Myself
4/11/2012 9:58:35 PM
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Christine, further to my earlier comment.

You said: Many of these people come looking for love and God. Sadly, they end up finding the opposite.

If they are sincere about finding God, they will find Him in the Church regardless.

Perhaps what they seek is not so much God but a validation of their sin and their disordered lifestyle. They want someone to say yes, go ahead with that lifestyle, it is okay.

David McDonald, website link below, is gay.

Yet, he is so supportive of the moral teachings of the church.

You should visit his website because it is a treasure trove of Catholic apologetics.
4/11/2012 10:04:11 PM
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Reply to all reg my last post about judgmentalism ~

I agree unmarried couples attending church should be convicted. However, before the church stones them, church should give them grace and acceptance.

Change is a process. The Holy Spirit starts to deal with those sinners convicting them of their sin. If they heed the voice of the HS and get convicted, then Hallelujah. If not, then the church should jump in and confront them lovingly and gently.

Remember this is what Jesus did with all the sinners when he encountered them. He gave them grace, then He gently confronted them about their sin.
4/12/2012 7:49:02 PM
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Karen Genest
Here's another simple idea: I decided one Sunday to say good morning to the stranger sitting next to me at Mass on Sunday at our cathedral (my parish). Well, a couple of wonderful things happened! Over time, after making this greeting a routine, I started feeling closer to all the people in the congregation. And I noticed how often I saw some smiles light up on faces that were looking a bit lost or forlorn. Today, I can't wait to get to Mass to say good morning to whoever will be sitting next to me. This is a simple way to make someone feel noticed and welcome.
4/12/2012 9:04:03 PM
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What do you mean by the Church giving them acceptance? Are you saying that they should be allowed communion?

If not, I do not think that there is a church that would throw them out if they come to Mass.

As a matter of fact, far too many priests fail in their duty to tell cohabiting couples and openly active gay couples that their lifestyle goes against the faith they profess and that they should not receive communion.

The priest at my brother's parish gives communion to every divorced and remarried, cohabiting and homosexual couples. He is too timid about giving the correct teaching regarding this.

He does not need to shame them. All he needs to do is set up a time to see them and explain why they cannot recieve communion but he does not do that.
4/13/2012 3:15:30 AM
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What I mean by acceptance is to give sinners GRACE rather than quickly judge them.

As for whether they take communion or not, considering their unawareness in their sinful life, that is really up to their discretion.

That priest you're talking about is practicing what I am talking about - GRACE!

In time, when they understand what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ - the Holy Spirit can convict.

I agree with what that priest is doing. He is showing them Jesus' Love!
4/13/2012 3:58:14 PM
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Scott Burkhart
There are some of us that realize that the Church is bigger than any one of us and we are all members of the mystical body of Christ. I attend mass at a couple of different parishes in my town because I have been treated shabbily by my priest. I still attend intermittently but not with the frequency I did before he arrived.

I also feel priests need to preach the hard social sermons. I have never heard my priest give a homily against abortion, contraception, euthanasia, or homosexual marriage. I asked him about some of these things one time and his reply was the courts will deal with these issues and he doesn't need to weigh in on them. He's a Mundalein priest, by the way.
4/13/2012 8:33:55 PM
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But that is rather confused.

What do you mean by giving them GRACE? In what way give them GRACE?

The priest I was talking about was not giving them GRACE, he was giving them a cheap substitute of it.

How can they understand what it means to be a follower of Christ if the priest keeps confirming them in their sin?

This is the whole problem with some priests today, they shy away from the idea of sin and thus end up with the most distorted of theologies.

Don't you even understand what sacrilegious communion is?

They will never understand that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong and that divorce and remarraige is wrong and that cohabitgation is wrong because he never says anything about it. He trys to give a feel good "all inclusive" kind of approach that never challenges them to mend their ways. Why should they, as far as he was concerned they can keep going as they please.

The priest was not showing them love, he was being politically correct, afraid to make waves.

The world has a very confused idea of love. They mistake this for feelings and sentimentaity. Christ is very clear that we should tell the sinners when they sin. If they don't believe then that is up to them. As for the brother who has called them to account he has done his duty.

This priest is far to concerned about human respect that he fails in his duty to speak the truth.

It can be done, to speak the truth in love but the priest failed to do them both.

He could have taken them aside and told them to come to Mass but don't come to communion because they are receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord but he does not do so, so what he does is confirm them in their error.

4/13/2012 11:20:14 PM
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I have not left the Church, but if I did it would not be because I was not well catechized, nor because I rejected doctrine, nor because of bad preaching, nor because of bad "customer service." If I left the Church it would be due to the abysmal state of the liturgy. I found it very ironic that the new translation from the Latin is nearly identical to the Rite One order of service from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. A good move. This is the liturgy that has been used by the Anglican Church for hundreds of years. It's great the Church has finally discovered it. Now, if only the church would rediscover the rich musical history that belongs to them but can now, for the most part, only be found in the, again, Episcopal Church. When I visit NYC, I go to Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church. Why? Because the liturgy and the music offer a transcendent experience that embodies the very mystery of the faith. I know I go to Mass for the Eucharist. But if the whole rest of the experience is a total drag, where we are subjected to bad music sung by a choir of people who all think they are singing a solo (listen to any mass from St. Patrick's in NYC and you will understand), where priests just change the prayers because they think what they have to say is better, it becomes harder and harder to get yourself up on Sunday morning to get there. I go for the body and blood of Christ. If I could get it somewhere else, in a church that reclaimed the aesthetics that the Catholic Church has abandoned, I would go there, in a flash.
4/14/2012 12:51:34 AM
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Louise Standefer
Oh. boy! I read all these comments. I agree with some and disagree with others. Here is what I think. People leave because of lack of love fueled by head knowledge rather than heart knowledge. Jesus calls us to a relationship with Him, not an institution. It is THAT RELATIONSHIP that produces good fruit-love , joy , peace, etc.
I left my local parish after 30 years because of a lack of love on the part of the pastor. I complained to the diocesan hierarchy-never heard a word back. I drive 9 miles to my new parish. It is the best drive I take each week, at least once, but often more. The atmosphere is FULL OF LOVE starting with the pastor and trickling down to all the members. It is infectious!The Church is called not to be a whipping post for sinners but the Body of Christ and Heaven on earth!!
4/14/2012 10:55:26 AM
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Try to understand where those unmarried couples coming from before you judge them. They are NOT on the same page as you and other devout Christians.

Change is a process and it takes a while before individuals are sensitized and become familiar with God's standards.

Thereafter and only guided by the Holy Spirit, the priest, or one of the elders can confront them by speaking the truth in love.

Ideally, when someone starts to turn around from sinful ways into a holy way, it takes a while to absorb things from God's perspective and standards.

Let the Holy Spirit take root into their life and convict them rather than try to play God's role in their life.
4/14/2012 2:11:30 PM
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Dan Tracy
"I know we count on priests to perform all these rolls, but I don't know that we should expect all priests to do all things, and I do wonder what the "essential" role of a priest is."

I see the essential role as helping us to know Jesus and to know the love of God.

Of course, we are obliged to do the same for one and other, especially our priests.

Also, we need to keep in mind that priests are very human facing distractions in life and enduring stresses. They may fall short on a given day or a given aspect of their personality, but are very much loved by our Lord above.
4/14/2012 6:15:40 PM
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Peggy Budnik
I "left" the Church for a number of years. One reason was mentioned in this video. I was a Eucharist Minister and Lecturer at a parish and after suffering through a very painful divorce after 30 years of marriage I disappeared and no one noticed. It would have been wonderful if someone had contacted me -- I needed it. The good news is -- I am back. Actively involved in a different parish and in love with Christ.
4/14/2012 7:32:53 PM
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I think people leave the Church because it is the easy path. Or because it is the time in their lives, when, due to poor formation, the things of the world, such as going to college, getting your first girlfriend/boyfriend, whatever the world presents to us as opportunities/distractions. In a nutshell, it is do to poor formation. Most of the time I think that it can be due to sloth on the part of the individual, and obviously all of the other distractions we all are presented with. Fr. Barron's take on why people leave it very practical. I personally live in practicality, but in my faith life seek high end theology. His argument is that maybe they should coalesce. I left the Church because of many reasons, and now I sit in Church, wondering why others have not figured it out and come home. Thank you God. Thank you Jesus. And thank you good and holy priest's, women religious, faith-filled lay people, Bishops, Cardinals, and our wonderful Holy Father Benedict, for continuing what the Christ continued.
Peace and God Bless.
4/15/2012 2:56:52 AM
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You are confusing the issues.

Firstly, to say that unmarried couples are living in sin is a fact. They can give all sorts of excuses but it remains a fact that it is a sin.

To say that cohabitation is a sin is not to judge the couple. They chose to do so for their own reasons and most likely because the teaching of the Church has not be thoroughly explained to them and that they have bought into the secular philosophy of relativism.

They think that whatever one believes to be the truth is the truth.

But Christian teaching is not relativist. We believe that there are truths that are objective. Truths that are part of God's will. Therefore, as far as sexual morality is concerned homosexuals who practice homosexuality, divorced people who remarry and unmarried people who cohabit are living in sin. It is as plain as saying that a murderer has sinned once the fact has been established that he has indeed murdered someone.

The problem with the situation of active homosexuals, cohabiting couples and remarried couples is that they are entrenched in this sinful situation. The lifestyle ITSELF is sinful.

They need to be told that and this explained clearly.

Now, of course it is up to them to live by what the Church teaches. The Church does not force them to live the right way. The Church can only teach.

What you are basically advocating is to NOT to tell them that they are living simple lifestyles! How then will they mend their ways if they are not told the truth of their situation?

This is precisely why sexual morality has completely gone down the gurgler- because people are afraid to say that it is wrong.

To give an example: A man who steals because he is hungry is different to the man whose lifestyle is oriented towards stealing (e.g. those whoare in gangs)

The situation of the cohabiting couple, remarried couples and active homosexuals correspond to the latter - their lifestyle entrenches the sin.

There is no excuse for cohabiting couples to live this lifestyle at all -absolutely nothing - because if they are single, they have the option of getting married.

But the fact that they chose to cohabit means that Christian teaching on this matter does not matter to them. They can always get married but they chose not to. And if they will indeed get married at a later time, then why not wait till then to engage in the marital act? Should the Church conform to them or should they conform to the Church?

The Holy Spirit will not take root in their life if the Church bows to them and says that it is okay to just living in sin.

Christ who is the height of forgiveness said to the adulterous woman - I do not condemn.

But His parting words were" GO AND SIN NO MORE".

We should do the same. We should not condemn (that is God's prerogative) but we should also say "sin no more".

We should not equivocate. If something is a sin then say it is.
When you fail to say that last one, you fail in your duty as a Christian.
4/15/2012 4:46:12 AM
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