It goes like this:
“We urgently need the Church’s clarity and authoritative guidance on issues like abortion, homosexuality, gender dysphoria, the indissolubility of matrimony, the four last things, and the consequences of contraception (moral, anthropological, and abortifacient). My generation has never, or rarely, heard these truths winsomely taught in the parishes. Instead, we hear most forcefully and frequently from our bishops' conference and our dioceses regarding the federal budget, border policy, net neutrality, gun control, and the environment…
… If the Church abandons her traditions of beauty and truth*, she abandons us.”
Thus goes a letter from a young man, married, and the father of three children. He wrote it to Archbishop Charles Chaput, who reproduced it in First Things, here.
A brief personal anecdote: when we still lived in Virginia, and attended St. Benedict's Parish, one of my daughters, around 11 years old at the time, invited a neighbor girl to spend the night. This little girl lived up the street, her parents were in the process of getting divorced, her father was not living at home and her mother had a new boyfriend. I do not know what their religion was, if any. It is possible the little girl had never been inside a church in her life. Nevertheless, she had her mother’s permission to go with us to Mass that Sunday, and she did. And I could tell by the look on her face that, though she wasn’t real sure exactly what was going on, she knew that something was going on, and it was important.
We moved away not too long after. I do not know what became of the little girl.
How we pray – the Church’s visible, public attitude of prayer - is important. It is the most visible aspect of Catholic life to non-Catholics, and says without words more than truckloads of verbiage can ever say about what the Church teaches about who we are, and Who God is. And, it gives foundation to figuring how to address all those other difficulties that come up in this life. If we worship like grownups, there’s a better chance that, just maybe, we might think like grownups.
To me, the silence of many – most - Dioceses, Bishops and priests on the ever-proliferating tough problems, the collapse of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, the emptying of the pews and the closing of churches have, at their root, a loss of Catholic identity, Catholic patrimony, and even a loss of an awareness that there is something known as truth. Catholics have been deprived of their heritage, and have been given Pablum instead. Returning to the traditional Mass won’t magically or instantaneously fix all this (I have been accused, in writing, by prelates, of believing that this is so) but I do believe it is the first step of a thousand and one steps. And, I believe, with all my heart, that it is a necessary step. As we pray, we believe.
* As you may know, there is a confusing discussion going on right now in the blogosphere and beyond regarding “truth”. I refer you to Fr. Gerald Murray’s analysis here, and some follow on commentary from Fr. Zuhlsdorf here. Pilate’s question remains with us always: Quid est veritas?