SodakMonk has some interesting thoughts on the Church today:
I’ve been thinking about the discussions that go on when parishes have to be closed, like in Boston. Some of this will be coming to almost everywhere in the future, so it’s good to think about it in advance. I like to emphasize that we are reaping what we have sowed for the last generation. For roughly 40 years now we have been building a Church where:
1. The priesthood is de-emphasized
2. Celibacy is de-emphasized
3. Sacrifice in general is de-emphasized
4. Faith is seen primarily as providing people with comfort
5. Popular models of spirituality are effeminate, that is, they lack appropriate masculinity.
All these trends have brought us to where we are today. Ironic, isn’t it, that a Church where nobody was told to sacrifice eventually becomes a Church where many people will lose their local parish, a big sacrifice in their eyes.
To this good list I would add "obedience and orthodoxy is de-emphasized." The hierarchy has been extremely slow in most cases to act in situations where public members of the Church, especially theologians, have dissented from the Church on issues that brook no leeway. The very public dissent on contraception and lack of response encouraged this behavior. While it is understandable of not wanting to develop a smack-down attitude for dissenters – the kindest thing truly is to rebuke them for these severe errors. From the progressive theologians first came excuses for why Church teaching did not have to be followed. This flowed down through the seminaries and to the religious educators. Since no one was willing to put their finger in the dam these errors then flowed through the Catholic population. These progressive ideas became just another take on Catholic doctrine instead of being seen as outright transgressions of it.
Seeing all the stories on parish closing especially in Boston, it makes me wish that these Catholics were as loyal to the universal Church as they are to their local parish. I can understand the anguish of a church closing, especially if it was one you were baptized in or had attended most of you life. If this seeming fervent loyalty had been redirected earlier to praying for vocations and in following what the Church teaches this predicament would not have come. Fr. Kowalski is exactly right in that sacrifice the lack of sacrifice leads to losing a local parish. This is no surprise since the Mass is itself a sacrifice and when the meaning of sacrifice is lost we also lose the meaning of the Mass. The lack of sacrifice and deemphasis of sin results in a religion that is more a communal gathering then something that has a real purpose. When the church becomes nothing more then a glorified Elk’s Lodge is it no wonder that it at the same time becomes empty?
Today being the memorial of St. John of the Cross it reminds me that one of the reasons that Saint is prefixed before his name is that in life "of the Cross" was truly lived. When he was unfairly suppressed and later imprisoned by his order, it resulted not in disobedience and anger – but instead in some of the greatest writing and poetry the faith has ever produced. This deep connection between sacrifice and obedience produced a greater love for God that burned throughout the rest of his days. There is no "St. John of the Comfy Chair" and in our own lives we must reflect what truly is appended to our names – of the Cross" or "of the Stratolounger."