10 Ways to Put MegaChurches Out of Business

Megachurches are full of ex-Catholics. It’s no secret. Catholics are often easy pickings. Yesterday I posted about my recent conversation about Catholics leaving the Church for megachurches. Today we’ll look at some solutions.

megachurch

Here are 10 things we can do to stop the hemorrhaging.

1) Start a small group. People must feel connected.  Legion of Mary. Bible studies. Knights of Columbus. We overly clericalize this. You don’t need a priest to have a group of people studying Proverbs. Just pick a regular date on the calendar and make it happen.

2) Organize men’s conferences and men’s groups. Look around. Men are the shrinking demographic in Catholic parishes.

3) Create a system of mentors. Old women should regularly meet with younger women. At least that’s what St Paul teaches (Titus 2:3-5).

Old men should do the same with young men. Reconnect the generations. The older folks should initiate this. Young people are too afraid to ask.

4) We need better marriage prep. Bring out the veteran marathon lovers – those couples who have been married 50 years and have them talk to the youngsters.

5) Better music. Imitating the Tonight Show band is a losing strategy. Bring it with Gregorian chant. Even Howard Stern (not a fan!) was blown away about a little Latin Pie Jesu. See video for details.

6) Rediscover real Catholic architecture. In The Crucified Rabbi, I argue that there is a Catholic way of doing architecture based on the norms of Scripture and Old Testament precedents. You can read a sample here. Traditional architecture presents mystery and transcendence. Catholics used to major in this.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2011

7) Stress the NEED for the seven sacraments. You baby needs to be baptized. You need confirmation. You need the Eucharist to have life in you. You need confession to wash away your mortal sins. You need extreme unction at the end. Sacraments aren’t good ideas. They are necessary gifts that Jesus wants to lavish upon us. To reject them is to reject Jesus.

8) Preaching. Homilies should do two things. They should expound the readings and the Gospel especially. Reverend Fathers, tell us about the Word of God – not about local events and your latest ideas about whatever. People will perish without the Word of God. Secondly, homilies should have action items. Challenge us. Ask us to do things. Push us. Tell us to pray the Rosary every day and to read the Bible every day. Tell us to invite our neighbor to Mass. Tell us to go to confession more often. We may actually start doing these things!

9) Revamp RCIA. RCIA has a reputation for being other than what it was designed to do. First, it’s called RCIA. Sounds terribly lame. Sounds like the DPS or DMV or IRS. Catholic initiation should be standardized and doctrinally sound. Catholic initiation should feel like joining a 2,000 year old global tribe.

10 Holy Eucharist. We covered this above in the sacraments section, but I wanted to stress reverence. If Eucharistic ministers are wearing strapless dresses, Grover shirts, and the altar servers are chewing gum, guess what? The whole fiasco screams the wrong message: “This ain’t really God. It’s just bread. Welcome to the snack-rament.” The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should feel and look like a sacrifice. Incense. High altar. Chant. It shouldn’t look like a megachurch with some felt rainbow vestments and a rushed Eucharistic prayer. Even if a person has never heard the word “transubstantiation” they should something like this: “Wow, this Catholic service is entirely different. Something profound is happening here. I want to learn more.”

Question: Okay, these are ten suggestions to to stop the bleeding. Leave a comment and share your ideas below. How do we keep Catholics from drifting to the megachurches? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Jenny

    Terrific points! I would also add that CCD programs, along with RCIA, need to be revamped. Sound catechesis is important to both young and old. In our parish, my husband is the only CCD teacher. Men are definitely the shrinking demographic. I think priests need to encourage men to become the holy men that God desires them to be!

    • RobinJeanne

      I have found that the older generation raised on the Baltimore Catechism look down now on it but guess what, that generation stayed with the faith. We modernised it in the 70′s and look how many have fallen away. I teach using much of the Baltimore Catechism and the fire of the Holy Spirit…. no I don’t force the memorising but try to bring the words and teaching alive to my 4th grader and how they can live their Catholic faith and yes, at 10 yrs old they can hepl evangelize their parents and siblings. My assistant watches the kids and she says they hang on to every word I say and for the past few years, I have not had to “hush” my kids, they’re very attentive. so I say if this is working, keep doping what I’m doing.
      We too any have 1 male teacher and my friends and I were just asking… where are the men????

      • Trent

        “Where are the men?” Truly a great question. Raised by a single mother, I grew up nearly thinking that men were not important in the formation of children. Oh how I was wrong. I thank God that I am not married or have children. I wouldn’t have the least idea of what to do, nor would I have a solid guide to assist me.

        Once men again are seen as heads of family, as God instituted, and once men again understand their role in orienting the socio-political sphere toward God, we will continue to have an emasculate generation of men. This will necessarily lead to a poor formation of boys (and girls too!). There is absolutely a war on boys in this country. And we wonder why there are so few vocations to the priesthood.

        • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

          Yes, there is a war on boys and girls: Boys to be metrosexual wusses. Girls to be sexualized objects.

          Only Christ can heal this.

      • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

        In the Bible Belt the B.C. is next to useless. Catholic kids must be taught their faith from Scripture.

      • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

        “at 10 yrs old they can evangelize their parents and siblings.” Yes. That is an explicit goal in my 6th-grade catechism class.

    • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

      Yes. Men can’t keep leaving everything to the pastor and the women.

    • GhanaCatholic

      YES!!

  • Konstantin

    Good stuff Dr. Marshall, although I don’t agree with the point that we don’t need priests to have a Bible group. In today’s setting of mostly uneducated but very self-assured Catholics, this can soon become the “heretical bible interpretation group” where the one who’s the loudest and has the most (girl)friends in the parish wins.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Konstantin,

      I disagree. There is a risk of heresy – but there is also the risk of heresy if a priest leads it. The presence of a priest doesn’t lead to infallible Bible studies.

      (The great heresiarchs were nearly all priests: Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, Martin Luther, et al.)

      There are plenty of solid Bible resources out there to guide Catholics.

      Lay people reading Scripture has almost always proved positive. Lay Bible groups are rarely hotbeds of heresy.

      • Matthew

        Can you suggest any good Catholic Bible studies for men?

        • martin

          How about The Great Adventure Catholiv Bible Study. By Ascension Press (Jeff Cabins)

          • Gail Finke

            Cavins

          • Elizabeth McClintic

            Love it. Have used this for years. It is a piece of cake to facilitate and people are really drawn to it.

          • Dmf

            Yes! The Great Adventure series is wonderful! Easy to lead/facilitate and solid Catholic teaching. I highly recommend.

        • Bill Polakiewicz

          Try studying the Journeys of Paul. Studying Saul, (St. Paul) is a great way to begin. Get a couple of men in your church together and go on an investigation of the life of St. Paul. Find out where he was born, what did his parents do, how was he educated, who was his teacher, why is it important to know the facts about St. Paul? How did a bounty hunter who hated Christians become the greatest convert to the Catholic Church?

        • MaryPaul

          Catholic Scripture Studies International. Priests have been recorded for a 20-30 minute video reflection for each class session. The study materials have been written by folks like Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, Mike Aquilina, and Mark Shea. Study leaders have a guide, and the program is super easy to set up. Many, many graces I’ve witnessed from taking these classes.

        • http://justapipe.com mahaffy

          Would it be out of place to mention here that the K of C has some really good material free for the asking?

        • Tom in Vero

          Best is to use material that gets men to talk. Suggest The Better Part by Fr. John Bartunek, LC. His focus is on the Gospels providing reflections that focus on Christ the Lord, Christ the Teacher, Christ the Friend and Christ in My Life, followed by questions for small group discussion. Book is also available as an Ap. Wonderful for daily meditations as well.

      • RobinJeanne

        A majority of Bible studies I know about are “share groups” and when I was breifly part of one, there was much being say/shared that went against Catholic teaching. It was a hard discision to leave because I felt someone needed to be there to correct any errors (me) but at the same time I discovered I didn’t want to share, I wanted to learn and so I dropped out. A few weeks later the group ended. Finally my freind answered the call to teach Scripture and is doing a great job. Sadly, though opened to the whole parish, we only have usually about 6 people show up. We need more learning groups, we need to light a fire under bench warmers….

      • R. Ann

        I agree with Konstantin. You need a priest to lead. If you smell heresy in the priest, don’t go, but if Bible groups form, it is necessary to be taught by those anointed by the Church. That is the priest’s role and duty and we shouldn’t usurp it by becoming the authorities. I don’t attend our parish’s group because our priest lets the lay people do all the teaching while he slips away in his cozy parish center office. He needs to get out and lead which accompanies the idea of having men be leaders. The women at our Bible group dominate once again.

    • gordon

      If someone in the church knows the Bible(certified catechist) then it should be fine having them lead the study. Always have the catechism handy in a Bible study.

      • Phil Steinacker

        Right. The best Bible studies fully incorporate the Catechism into the study questions.

    • CatherineA

      We don’t have enough priests to insist on having priests run the Bible studies. There is no good reason why a mature Catholic, approved by the priest, cannot facilitate a Bible study.

      • Mary Anne

        I agree, and also would be a good job for Deacons.

      • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

        Yes. Catholic laity can’t have Father or Sister do all the teaching.

    • songsoflife

      There are so many good resources now, in this post-Vatican II world, for Catholic bible study for the laity. For now, I say we need our priests for the sacraments more than for bible studies. God bless us all!

  • lovemycatholicfaith

    I believe that the adults were not catechized correctly as children we need to have more knowledge of our catholic faith,so that we don’t have the need to go to a mega church. I have never gone to a mega church but I know so many that do. Why? you should know your beliefs enough to know that there is no need for the mega church.God showers us with so much of his love through out the whole mass.Why turn a way for a quick fix.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      I think that some megachurches emphasize Bible study. For the first time in their lives, people begin to grow from Scripture.

      • gordon

        The sermons people hear in these mega churches are different from what people have been hearing. Priests and deacons need to step up and PREACH, not tell stories.

        • CatherineA

          I think most Catholics (who have not converted from another tradition) have NO IDEA how bad most Catholic preaching is, and how good a lot of Protestant preaching is. They don’t know what they’re missing until they leave, and that’s why so many don’t want to come back. We Catholics tend to under-estimate the value of good preaching.

      • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

        Yes. Substantial scripture study must become the foundation of Catechesis.

        • R. Ann

          And for this reason is why I think the priest should lead the Bible studies. It must be clear, concise and substantial and not neglected by weird people who ordain themselves for the duty.

      • songsoflife

        We need a middle ground between the felt-butterfly method of childhood catechesis and a mature understanding of our faith. This is something Protestants have excelled at for years. After many centuries of Catholic laity’s scriptural illiteracy, we need a better way to bridge the gap and come into our own adult understanding of and relationship with God. Bible studies are a good start. St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

  • Germaine Wearden

    We have been extremely blessed in the Diocese of Victoria with several priests whose reverence for the Blessed Sacrament is so inspirational! And the sermons are jaw-droppingly on spot! And the number of young men discerning for the Sacrament of Holy Orders is almost at record breaking numbers for this diocese…Thank you, Holy God, for the blessings on your people!

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      This is fantastic. Where there are good shepherds, the sheep are healthy!

    • R. Ann

      Glad to hear this!

  • Trent

    Hi, Dr. Marshall.

    You have made excellent points, and I agree with them all. However, I believe that one point–and this may be the most important point, or perhaps the second most important point behind devotion to the Blessed Sacrament–and this would be devotion to Mary.

    Saint Louis de Monfort makes a solid case for a complete consecration to Mary in his True Devotion to Mary. He argues that because we are sinful and conceived in sin, any good that we do is necessarily is tainted. Anything we offer to God will still have spots of sin on it. However, if we offer our prayers, our works, our devotions to Mary, she will cloth them (and us too) in her merits and virtues. She will perfect us and our offerings, so that it will be she, rather than we, who is offering our merits to God.

    And this point is extremely important. Mary knows what is best for us. It is better to give to Mary without asking in return. It is good for us to offer Rosaries to her, not asking for any particular favor. In such a way, we can humble ourselves before Mary, and give to her everything that we have. Any prayers we offer for the conversion sinners will be less effective than if we had offered merits to Mary–small as our merits may be. We only offer ourselves up to her service and essentially she does the rest.

    Following Mary is the easiest path toward to heaven. It is also the easiest path of leading sinners to the Church.

    In Christ,
    Trent

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      So true. I wrote this thinking of countering megachurch successes, but you are entirely correct.

      Devotion to Mary is essential to the Christian life and final perseverance. Thank you for this beautiful reminder!

    • Pat Mobilik

      Thank Trent for this sharing. It is beautiful.

    • R. Ann

      Yes! Consecrate ourselves to her and we will all have help from Our Lady and do all for Jesus. I’m reading True Devotion to Mary by Louis De Monfort right now.

  • Bob Mounger

    When I attended a protestant megachurch, one of the things they stressed was that congregant surveys had shown them the number one reason people actually came to church was “to see their friends”. As in 90% of the people who showed up.

    They emphasized that everyone needed to make as many friends in the congregation as possible…

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      That’s an amazing stat. This should encourage the Knights of Columbus to fire up more pancake breakfasts!

      Also, the phenomenon of people leaving Mass early reveals that they don’t have friends there.

      • RobinJeanne

        Hmmm good piont. For the first 5 years at our parish, we left when Mass was over. We dicided to reach out and make freinds with this family and more friendships grew from there. Now it takes about 20 mins. to leave the narthex after Mass. It’s more like being with family then a Sunday obligation, more communing with the Body of Christ.

      • DebbieCatherineOP

        However, people need to talk to others, especially strangers, at those breakfasts. And they need to speak to each other at all events. Consider table captains whose job it is to ensure that people introduce themselves and to get/keep conversation going.

      • songsoflife

        A friend recently told me the main reason she attended Mass was for the social connections and relationships. Now, divorced and ashamed, she attends a meg-church where she has joined a support group for divorceés and one for step-parents, something we rarely see in Catholic parishes. She is going where faith and real-life intersect. Yet she is still searching…a sign of hope that she will return to the one true church. I, for one, am humbled by and learning from her honest, articulate sharing.

    • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

      It’s incumbent upon Catholics to be friendly and outgoing after Mass with people they don’t know.

  • Leslie Cannon

    I would like to see Priests give a homily on the proper form of the Sign of the Cross — I teach First Confession / First Communion and sadly so very many students (second graders) can’t properly make The Sign of the Cross — and on close examination — neither can their parents!

  • Denise

    Every point you make is exactly what we get in our Parish, in Greenville, TX. We are so blessed to NOT have the “Burger King gospel” preached “at” us. You know their slogan, “Have it your way.” People ask us why we drive a 90 mile round trip for Holy Mass. My answer is always, “I want a 7-course meal, not a snack!” :)

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Have it your way. Funny.

    • RobinJeanne

      I’ve heared of that parish. My sister and friend love going there every now and then (because it is a far drive from here) I hope to go there someday.

    • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

      Hey I’m in Greenville, SC, and my parish sounds like yours!

      • Denise

        Must be something about the name, Greenville. The showering of the Holy Spirit, the likeness to Lourdes, etc? Shower, water = “green” ville. :)

    • VLL

      Our entire diocese needs an overhaul. Our bishop is great– but so much work to be done with the “tabernacle jazz bands” and the like. Have to wait for the “Gather Us In” music ministers to retire. They are politically connected and entrenched. Too many unnecessary ministers for communion, too. So we go to Chicagoland where reverence is still a watchword in the sacrifice of the Mass.

      Fortunately that’s only an hour one way away. We get a reverent mass at St. Mary of the Angels, which is a Opus Dei parish. The priests there are wonderful! There’s always a big line on both sides of the church for confession, and the pastor is a widely known for his excellent homilies. Friends of mine go to St. John Cantius, (Chicago) which is even more amazing. Apparently a canonist from the Vatican came to one of their masses and said, “This is what WE should be doing.”!!! That was before Pope Benedict stepped down.

      There are points out light out there. You just have to find them.

  • JTConnell

    Amen! And again I say Amen! I grew up in a Protestant home where “Catholic” was a four-letter word. My road to the Catholic Church started when I was about 10 or 12 and sneaked into a Catholic church and experienced utter awe. I always say what first drew me to the Church was the smell of incense, beeswax, and the statues. I was in a space that was totally “other.” It was foreign. It was forbidden. And I was drawn to it somehow. Today, when I walk into most Catholic churches, I am struck with a sense of “modern auditorium.” As for RCIA, it was a joke. As for “reverent attire” at Mass, I want to tell people that here at St. Xxxxxxx, we expose the Blessed Sacrament, not our bodies. Please!!

  • NotEnoughFlair

    I think you hit the nail on the head with #1 – get involved. I suggest that in addition to social groups that people find ways to give service to the church through their parishes. Part of our personal tithe should definitely be to give back both money and time to our home parish or to a service oriented group like Knights of Columbus.

    Here’s an example of something we could learn from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormons. Mormons have no paid staff in local wards (the equivalent of parishes). Everything is delegated through Callings. A person is given a “calling” by the Bishop (leader of the Ward) and can be anything from librarian to Ward Clerk (business manager) to Sunday School Teacher (CCD) to ward leadership. Virtually everyone has at least one calling, and many have two or more.

    With most RCIA programs, the catechumens are discouraged from getting involved with any ministry for a year after baptisms. But in Utah, they do it differently – they immediately give people something to do with the parish. They know that most converts, who in that area are predominantly ex-Mormons, are used to having “callings”. They don’t feel like they are really part of a community unless they have a role to play in their new parish.

    I think that’s one of the big issues with many parishes – the mismanagement of parish volunteer resources. Some people who would love to have something to do are passed over or never asked to help or to participate in social groups or volunteer opportunities. And on the other side, the same 20% have been doing 80% of the work for years. Giving people opportunities to serve, rather than giving the large majority of the work to the same handful of people all the time, helps build a strong ties within a community.

    • CatherineA

      True! Several converts (including me) left our local Cathedral parish because we were excited about helping with RCIA but were heavily discouraged. We had much energy and enthusiasm, and nowhere to take it, so we left for parishes that would let us get involved.

    • RobinJeanne

      I was right with you till the end. In our parish, one of the biggest compaints is that it’s always the same people vulanteering. We have tried and tried to get others involved but no one wants to help. It’s sad and bothers me. I ask the Lord… what can we do to get the people involved? In our CCD program, grades 1-6 at 2 time sessions, we are lacking a teacher. That beens out of a 1,000 people attending our Mass on Sunday, only 11 care to take the time to help teach our childre…. sooo sad.

      • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

        Turning this big ship will take some time.

        • RobinJeanne

          lol… well put !!!

  • Anne Cregon Parks

    I agree with everything you said! I thought it was a terrible mistake to take nuns out of habits. They were seen in the community doing works of charity and faith and people KNEW they were Catholic. I also think priests should be given a dress code. My last church the priest only wore khaki pants and golf shirts that were not long enough to cover his expanding belly. I did not need to see that and it was embarrassing!

    • El_Tigre_Loco

      That’s mild. Our former pastor, (he’s retired now), not only didn’t even own a Roman collar, he wore ten earrings. But he did have a gift for holding people’s attention during homilys.

      • Anne Cregon Parks

        10 earrings? That begs several questions. Also the same hairy belly exposing priest always came screaming into the parking lot 3 minutes before he was to celebrate Mass. I NEVER saw him pray except during the Mass. Our other priest would come in and kneel in prayer before Mass. In 7 yrs I never got that “feeling” of holiness or seriousness about the faith. He was an organizer/manager of the church. He also allowed a lady to have a Protestant Bible study by Beth Moore taught for a “women’s Bilble study”. That was the last straw for me! I am Catholic not Protestant. I went a couple of times and they were talking about the Bible is ALL you need.

  • John Ott

    “snack-rament?” Nice, now I won’t be able to get that out of my head!
    I think the first and easiest thing to do is set a wordless example. Put on a tie or at least trousers and a dress shirt. Too many people come to Mass dressed like they’re on the way to the beach. Set a good example, it’s the mildest form of shaming and it seems to work.

    • El_Tigre_Loco

      Exactly what I do. Think about it. If you were to attend an audience with a king or queen or president, what would you wear? Isn’t God much more important?

    • CatherineA

      First and easiest, yes. But the problems has become so serious and so widespread that I think we need to do more. I don’t know exactly what, but something. I have long felt that our parish priest should not have to confront the women of the congregation about their immodest dress; we women who see the problem should address it ourselves. But it’s going to be ugly, I feel sure, no matter how much diplomacy and charity are used.

      • RobinJeanne

        We bought 20 shawls and when one comes in with spaghetti straps or less, we ask them to wear it and they do, evn little girls like 8-10 yr olds, they need to learn young. As time goes on they are getting a little better, but many still show up immostestly.

        • Anne Cregon Parks

          What a great idea!

  • Mark Lecomber

    Dr Marshall, lots of good points from you and commenters.

    I was thinking of adding “Spiritual Directors” as something that would help members of the Church grow in their faith. I’ve heard of “spiritual directors” but never bumped into one and i don’t know how to ‘get’ one.

    I wonder if what the Church is currently experiencing is a total breakdown in its culture. In the past the faith was handed down faithfully through the generations (faithfully both in terms of the reliability that it would be passed on and the soundness of the doctrine that was handed down because everybody knew the faith). Now it seems ‘we’ are relying on others to do what should but isn’t happening in the ‘Domestic Church.’ And priests – even if there were not a shortage – are not able to run all the groups and organise their parishes in the same way that the vast administrative teams at mega-churches can.

    I am a convert and since the RCIA (which was lacking) i have had to go it alone. The problem is that the priest hasn’t got time to continue the education of the flock in their faith. Then there is no other established way for Catholics to be nourished as they ‘continue their faith journey’ (excuse the expression). So the only option (for most) is to go it alone. This doesn’t make for a strong unified Church. The only other possibility, that seems to be hinted at in the comments is to befriend older, faithful Catholics, but as you said, this can be quite daunting and the initiative should be taken both the older ones seeking to hand the faith on rather than those of us who may or may not know what we are doing.

    • Jeanne

      This sounds exactly like me! My RCIA was a bunch of nice people and I am thankful for their time, but it was still lacking. The priest never dropped by even once. I am sad and a bit terrified to go it alone (convert 3 years ago), especially as my children approach the age of reason. My parish priest is way too busy to approach for spiritual direction. Converts, especially with children, should have a continuing education group or something, that teaches “how to have a Catholic home”, how to pass on Catholic traditions”, etc. with specific examples and suggestions. We go to Mass, I go to confession, we pray before meals and at bedtime with the children. We have crucifixes on the wall and Mary statue in a pretty alcove, I try to bring up God in everyday situations… I still don’t feel like I’ve created a Catholic home. I’m sure it’s mostly me and my own lack of living my faith, but, I’m not sure what to do from here.

  • Matt

    I totally agree about the small groups, more Scripture based homilies, and better music (though I think there is merit to popular hymns and contemporary music too, not just Gregorian chant. I have nothing against Gregorian chant, but I think people often overlook the ecumenical and evangelizing impact of music. If people come to Mass for the first time and sing familiar hymns that can create a connection that may help break down suspicion and build trust….Catholic hymnals just need to ditch the songs that sound terrible).

    • Phil Steinacker

      Matt, I once thought that but after 45 years of such music and almost completely banishing Gregorian chant from Mass at most U.S. parishes we are losing 4 Catholics for ever new one who enters the Church. The theory breaks down completely on the ground. Masses are nearly the same everywhere in the U.S. Vatican II elevated Gregorian chant to “pride of place” and we don’t have the authority or the right to undermine and contradict that decision with our pet theories or opinions.
      BTW, Gregorian chant is not my own personal first choice or my favorite music for the Mass. Gregorian chant is evolved or descended from the musical forms chanted by Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles. It is sacred because it is NOT of this world, like popular Christian music which is common and profane; vernacular. It’s not about us; it’s about Him, and we’ve done ourselves or anyone else no favors by catering to likes and dislikes in worship.

    • CatherineA

      Small groups are great as far as they go, but right now, the only people in the small groups are the committed Catholics. Our small groups are not drawing any new members to the Church. I think a beautiful, reverent, Catholic liturgy needs the most (and most immediate) attention. That’s what people see and experience first, and it has the potential to get people fired up and enthusiastic about their faith.

  • Wretched Sinner

    Great post, lots to think about.

  • Jordan

    As a protestant with a fair amount of interest and exposure to Catholicism, I don’t think you can underemphasize the importance of number 8. However, I would recommend a slightly different emphasis. You don’t want to “should” all over people – you want to clearly, profoundly, winsomely preach the Gospel. There is a lot that attracts me about Catholicism, but it is not an exaggeration to say 10 out of 10 homilies I have ever heard left me less drawn to the Church. Having said that, I know the Catholic response – “It’s about the Eucharist, man!” Granted, but if the Eucharist is what you claim, why is powerless, humorless, feeble preaching so widespread? It seems to me the Eucharist would empower Priests of the RCC the world over to be far more compelling preachers than the Osteens and Jakes of of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for Joel Osteen to blind me with his polished grin. I’m not looking for Matt Chandler to make me wonder if I accidentally showed up to the comedy club. I’m not looking for Jakes to splash sweat all over me as I hang on his every heresy in the front row.

    I know the Fulton Sheen’s are out there, and I’m confident there will be more and more with the current generation of seminarians. People are looking for a Priest with fire in his heart, with passion in his voice, with conviction in his manner, with the simple beauty of the Gospel on his lips.

    What an opportunity this could be for ecumenism. The list of things we protestants desperately need to learn from Catholics is embarrassingly long, but preaching presents the RCC with the opportunity to learn from us. How might the conversation look differently if the question were not “How can we put megachurches out of business?” but “How can we get megachurch leaders to mentor Priests in winsome preaching?” Imagine the shift in perception among protestants if the RCC literally invited The Candlers, Driscoll’s, Osteen’s, Chan’s, and yes, even the T.D. “Megafest” Jakes of the world to teach them how to preach. Not what to preach, but how. The humility of such an exercise would, by itself, win more converts than you could possibly imagine.

    • George

      Hi Jordan, i do believe your understanding of the Eucharist is mistaken. Professing it as the body and blood of our Lord is only the beginning. There are some who profess it out of obedience to the faith. Obedience is what i would call elementary faith… However, we shouldn’t be quick to downplay the importance of obedience. If only there was obedience in the first place the fall of man would not have happened… However, faith comes alive when one goes beyond Obedience. If the Eucharist truly is the body, blood and divinity of Jesus shouldn’t my knees be trembling out of awe when falling in line for communion? Also, if we truly believe that it is in fact Jesus wouldn’t you want to see him everyday? (daily mass) i have a good friend that’s goes to a non-denominational church and has never heard of daily mass. When we truly see Jesus in the Eucharist our unworthiness is magnified and we humble ourselves even more even if we are in a state of grace (after a good confession/examination of conscience). We wouldn’t want to be parted with him anymore and would want to remain in him always… Another friend said to me that even if he were to see it as the real presence he still can’t see how it’s needed for salvation and i just replied “It’s Jesus… How can it not?” All that’s left really to unleash the power is surrender our will to His… All the time spent reading the Bible might be in vain unless it leads you to Jesus…

      It also goes beyond having a personal relationship with Jesus… More often i have noticed that when one simplifies salvation as having a personal relationship with Jesus people end up having their own personal Jesus. I think it’s because each of our definition of “relationship” varies. Personally i have found that Salvation is through communion with Jesus… remaining in him as he remains in me… Now it’s no longer is based on my definition but His… That’s the power of the Eucharist…

      • Mary

        Amen to that.

      • Jordan

        Hey George,

        Thanks for sharing and for responding. Maybe I should not have even brought up the Eucharist, it is a distraction from my main point. I am increasingly familiar with Catholic Eucharistic theology.

        • George

          Hey Jordan,

          Familiarizing ourselves with theology can only take us so far… I was raised Catholic but never really understood what it meant to be Catholic… and to be honest i still don’t. I can only hope and pray that i can learn to surrender my will to Jesus the way our Blessed Virgin and all the Saints did.

          In it’s effort to share the truth the Catholic Church has become somewhat academic… but it doesn’t mean that what it’s saying is false. Though you may not agree with us the Catholic Church is the pillar and foundation of truth… What’s lacking in it’s members including I is the grace to share it the way Jesus would…

          I do not doubt that reading the bible changes lives… I have met a lot of good people that have varying reformed theology… but if a may be honest… I have yet to meet anyone that’s non-catholic that’s holy… please don’t get me wrong. I am in no way suggesting that i am walking in holiness though i have met people that are. To the point that when i hear them say “God bless you” they don’t say it hoping that God blesses the other person… But that they’re actually united with God when they say it. I wish i could really explain it better… I’ve been praying for the grace to be able to put into words what i have experienced but it always find my words to be lacking… But somehow… it’s through the Eucharist that i have found the path to holiness… but it will be God who will Judge how much i have united my will with His Son… dying to ones self hasn’t been a one time decision for me… it might have been for some Jordan

          • George

            but definitely not for me. There’s no better time to offer the sacrifice of self (being less of ones self and more of Jesus) than in the mass after taking the Eucharist…

          • Jordan

            Thanks for the exhortation George. I know that questions of Church and the eucharist especially is, at the heart, a spiritual exploration more than an academic one. Take care.

          • George

            Sorry Jordan it might have seemed like I downplayed the importance of doctrine. It is important because only when the heart and the mind are one will the soul be at peace… this is where i find the truth to be of utmost importance.

            Only when i loved Jesus in the Eucharist did i see the beauty of the doctrines of the Church…

            I always thought that it was impossible to love God with all our heart with all our mind and with all our soul… I still struggle with this but God has made it so much easier to love him by loving Jesus in the Eucharist…

      • CatherineA

        I didn’t get that at all; I don’t think his understanding of the Eucharist is mistaken. In all charity, I think your understanding of his comparison is mistaken.

        • George

          Hi Catherine,

          Oh wow… My dyslexia strikes again. Please accept my apologies Jordan for my confusing replies and thank you Catherine for pointing it out. =) God bless you both =)

    • Marie Noybn

      the problem is that mega churches win converts not by the power of their preaching, but by the power of their lies.. They tell people what they want to hear, and that is not the Catholic way. I didnt read too many jokes in the Bible, and i think maybe if He had been a comedian the apostles might have mentioned it. No, He spoke softly, and honestly, He rebuked when needed, He forgave often, He prayed constantly. THAT is the example we need to follow.. it is not and should not be about numbers, its about conversion of HEARTS. He already knows, and told us, that many would not be saved…it is their choice. Listen to the truth, sit in front of a tabernacle and know that He is there… that is the way to conversion, not pretty words.

      • Jordan

        First, this is a huge sweeping generalization and it is uncharitable. Some mega churches exist because faithful Jesus-loving leaders lay down their lives towards building an honest and genuinely fruitful community of Christians. Some thrive under greedy scam artists.

        Second, words are not petty. Language is powerful beyond imagination. The divine word creates, the word of life re-creates souls, the word of God penetrates bone and marrow. That the Eucharist is central does not mean words are petty. The Gospel comes with the incarnation. Christ comes speaking, not silent.

        • croixmom

          Actually Jordan, Marie was not being uncharitable. She was being Catholic. It is uncharitable to NOT correct the mis-believing. It is uncharitable to tell people they are being saved, but to teach heresy.
          It is uncharitable to allow Catholics to believe all faiths are equal.
          As St. Eymard said, “It is better to be a bad Catholic than to be a good protestant.

          • Jordan

            The uncharitable aspect of her post was not saying mega churches teach heresy. Of course, that would be the Catholic position. It’s uncharitable to make a blanket statement about the intentions of large churches who, according to Marie, win converts because they placate to people’s itching ears. This is a statement about people’s intentions which implies preachers say whatever gets people in the seats as if it simply has to be some sort of cheap protestant gimmick in order to work. This is very telling of your lack of exposure or friendship with honest, sincere, whole-hearted protestant church leaders.

            It’s always striking to me how difficult it is for most Catholics to admit some protestant ‘ecclesial communities’ have much to teach them, that their success could be more than the gimmick they label it, that it could, in fact, be successful because people encounter and grow in Christ, in community, in the fruits of the spirit. Some large protestant churches might just be genuinely better at meeting people’s felt needs than your parish is. What good is having the fullness of the truth if you can’t help people enter into it in a way that they can understand? Protestants are good at this, Catholics are better at other things. Let’s learn from one another rather than defensively insist on our own ways.

            The confident person is not defensive. The more insecure I am in my own beliefs, the harder time I will have affirming the good I can find in another.

          • croixmom

            If someone is truly seeking the Truth, they will be led to the Catholic Church.

            The Church has failed over the past 40+ years to properly form her members. Maybe one of the most important failures is to fail to teach that the Mass is not about us.

            If protestant mega churches are leading people away from the Truth they merely have good intentions.

            The Traditional Churches are growing in membership with young families. They are vibrant and alive. The challenge is to remain humble.

            Being Catholic is very difficult, hence the necessity of the Holy Eucharist and all the sacraments and sacramentals.

            It is a lot easier to go to a mega church that is preaching a feel-good message than to make the sacrifices to be Catholic. To meditate on Our Lord’s Passion. To make a good, humble, sacramental confession. To make our sufferings redemptive. To consecrate ourselves to the Mother of God.

            Most converts TO the Faith come to the Church by way of Mary who leads them to the Truth.
            Most reverts to the Faith return because they seek the Truth.

            We’re not talking about marketing a product. We are talking about responding to grace.

          • Jordan

            “We’re not talking about marketing a product. We are talking about responding to grace.”

            Absolutely! Let us rest on this common ground. Take care.

          • croixmom

            YAY!!!!!!

          • Phil Steinacker

            Agreed!
            Just want to welcome you to these discussions. Should you ever see your way into the Catholic Church I know we will be all the more blessed for it.

          • CatherineA

            Yes, we need more Jordans. It distresses me that we so often seem to do our level-best to run them off. I have a Protestant friend who is VERY interested in the Catholic Church. He knows the faith better than most of the Catholics I know. But he hesitates, because it would mean leaving the church where he worships (and teaches) with a group of on-fire Christians who know their Bibles, who serve their communities, and believe in evangelization. He has visited several Catholic churches and has been terribly disappointed in their poor preaching, their small crowds, and their non-existent Bible studies and mission groups. I know how he feels.

          • songsoflife

            Let them bring their fellow church members with them. :-)

          • CatherineA

            Jordan, I so appreciate your charitable discourse. We need more of that.

          • CatherineA

            Again — yes, yes, and more yes. TRUTH. From a Catholic who has been Baptist and Episcopalian.

          • Jordan

            As St. Eymard said, “It is better to be a bad Catholic than to be a good protestant.” This is said within the context of 1800s France. If you hope to have fruitful encounters with protestants, this kind of statement is a very efficient way to ensure that will not happen. Maybe you should also read up a bit on some of the things said about Protestants at Vatican II. Try this one, “It’s better to zealously, honestly, humbly pursue the truth of Christ at all costs than defend your camp with inflammatory, reductionistic, anachronistic one-liners”

          • CatherineA

            She may not have intended to be uncharitable, but she did in fact make a sweeping generalization and those are almost always uncharitable. I was raised Protestant and still enjoy listening to a local Baptist preacher of a very large (not quite “mega” church). At least 95% of his preaching, on any given Sunday, is consistent with the Gospel and could pass muster in any Catholic parish. It is dynamic, interesting, helpful, and Scriptural, just as Gospel preaching ought to be. That his church is large is not something bad; it is large because people are hungry for good, traditional preaching (and opportunities to serve and to study the Bible, which that church provides in abundance).

        • Phil Steinacker

          Well, I have to remind everyone that as Catholics we are called to not read people’s hearts. I have to support Jordan in this regard. There’s a difference in saying something is a falsehood and that the person speaking it is a liar.
          Also, the Church wisely distinguishes between the heresies incorporated into the theology of a Protestant church, let’s say, and the folks born into and brought up within those churches. Even Protestant clergy fit into this understanding.
          Those who are in the Catholic Church and presumably know the Faith who defy Church teaching by preaching heresy are heretics, as are those who follow them. But those born to them are not – they do not know the Catholic Church and cannot be seen as heretics, not are we to see them as liars even if they propagate ideas which we know are false.
          We cannot read hearts. While I’m very much opposed to playing the “judgmental” card to negate truth, I also remember I am not the Lord and cannot see into the hearts of others.
          Speak the truth always, but charitably. Tough to live up to, I know. I struggle with it, too, and that’s why I know it so well

          • CatherineA

            From then-Cardinal Ratzinger, in “The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood”:

            “Protestantism has made an important contribution to the realization
            of Christian faith, fulfilling a positive function in the development of
            the Christian message and, above all, often giving rise to a sincere
            and profound faith in the individual non-Catholic Christian, whose
            separation from the Catholic affirmation has nothing to do with the
            pertinacia characteristic of heresy.”

        • CatherineA

          Yes, yes, yes! That is why He is called the Word.

        • Bernadette

          She said “pretty” words not “petty”.

          • Jordan

            Wow. I’m red in the face. I apologize Marie!

    • Elizabeth McClintic

      Father John Riccardo of mp3 fame does this. My pastor is a familiar face on World Over on EWTN and is never afraid of using the “hard” words in his preaching. I have become accustomed to taking notes when he preaches as he enables us in the pews to give life and meaning to our faith. He also uses all the smells and bells and even some Latin. Last Sunday within the three pews in front of mine there were a total of 16 children. They are the future church. It gives me great hope to see pews filled with children. We also have an older church building that is gilded and inspiring to look at. To God be the glory!

      • Jordan

        Cool, thanks for sharing Elizabeth, I will give him a listen!

    • docwesty

      Jordan, Everyone likes a fiery, passion filled homily, but I find that I’ m more moved by a HOLY voice that comes from someone that walks the walk, rather than merely talks the talk. That is what sets most priests apart from “preachers”. They at least have devoted their lives to God and most have performed many works of charity, forgiveness, comfort, etc. It is wonderful to be able to preach the good news, but it is even better to live it. I have known many protestant ministers who went to bible college, soon after marriage, came out preaching fire and brimstone, but they have no real basis in living the word. I’m certainly not saying that no protestant ministers have lived the word, but I am confident that most priests have. Give me a holy man every time over an accomplished public speaker. God bless you in your faith journey.

      • Jordan

        Great point, I concur. I think the ideal is a both/and rather than an either/or, and my exhortation is just along these lines. If Priests asked certain ‘successful’ protestant preachers to teach them how to be more winsome in their preaching, this would serve as a chance for Priests to influence these pastors in holiness.

        • Phil Steinacker

          Jordan,
          You may well find a home here someday. “Both/and” is consistently a central feature of the Catholic Church.
          I think your suggestion is a good one. I know one priest who consults – a little on the preaching not also on the evangelizing – with a small mega-church in the community, and he is bringing the numbers. Trouble is, he’s weak on the faith itself and I’m unsure what church these folks think they are joining.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Corruptio optimi pessima. Corruption of the best is the worst.

      I think the reason we see feeble preaching in the priesthood is for the same reasons outlined by Saint Paul in Romans 1. Rejection of the true faith leads to a darkening of the mind.

      For a true priest to reject the faith is much more serious than a Protestant preacher to reject it.

      Preaching requires cooperation with grace. The Eucharist doesn’t force grace on the celebrant or preacher (or laity).

      • Jordan

        Dr. Marshall,

        I’m not sure I follow the first line of reasoning.

        I understand the principle of evil as a leech, the better the host the greater the evil. But I’m not sure how that translates here. Not all these terrible homilies are being delivered by Priests who reject the faith (far from it), nor are many Protestant preachers explicitly rejecting the faith, only (in Catholic opinion) ignorant of it’s fullness.

        The second distinction of the Eucharist not forcing grace is helpful, thanks.

    • CatherineA

      Hear, hear! And AMEN, brother! We are on the same wavelength. I have often thought our seminarians should be required to take some preaching classes at a Southern Baptist seminary. No joke. Lifelong Catholics (it seems to me) have NO IDEA just how bad Catholic preaching is (with some very, very few exceptions, of course).

      • RobinJeanne

        I think they can be taught some pointers but in general, some aren’t gifted that way. We had a priest who said a beautiful Mass but had dull sermons. Many priest are called to the priesthood but I don’t think all have been touched by the Holy Spirit. Kinda like we have many pew warmers, faithful Catholics showing up on Sunday’s but that’s as far as it goes. Then one day they open their heart to the Lord, by the Grace of God and have a life changing experience and become on fire for the Lord.

    • The Truth Will Set You Free

      My parish priest doesn’t have the gift of preaching at all; however, he is one of the most holy priest where I live: humble, gentle, compassionate, giving, always either in confessional or in the Adoration Chapel or attending to the parishoners. Did I mention humble? When I talk to him, I imagine that how the patron of priest was, St John de Vianney. Although, Fr. Doug’s preaching lacks big time, our parish is full every Sunday because of his holiness.

  • croixmom

    I believe the best way is for Catholics to BE CATHOLIC. Quit trying to be like protestants. The reason why so many “catholics” have gone to the megachurches, I think, is because they don’t know what they are leaving.
    To BE CATHOLIC means we need to forget about ecumenism.
    We need to have Churches that look like and feel like Catholic Churches.
    We need music that is AUTHENTICALLY Catholic.

    It really comes down to the Liturgy. We need CATHOLIC liturgy.
    We simply need to BE CATHOLIC. :)
    Dee Dee

    • Mary

      To be ” catholic” means to be universal.Do not throw out ecumenism.That means we reach out to everyone.

      • croixmom

        You are correct, Mary. The point being, that we need to be fully Catholic, without any identity crisis. When Catholics try to act/worship like protestants, we sacrifice our unique identity. If ecumenism is teaching Catholics that all religions are equal, that ecumenism is false. If Catholics do not know that the Catholic Church is the One True Church that was established by Jesus Christ, then they will be more apt. to not understand what it is to be Catholic.
        Dee Dee

        • CatherineA

          I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we “worship like Protestants.” Only that we show enough humility to recognize that EVERYTHING they do in their worship is not evil, corrupting, or bad. They do many things well, and some things MUCH BETTER than we do. We can, and should, learn from them when it comes to preaching.

      • Phil Steinacker

        Mary, croixmom is correct. We have lost millions because the false ecumenism of the last 45 years has led millions of Catholics to think “ecumenically” that all religions are the same so long as they are Christian. That is called indifferentism.
        We can and should reach out to find common ground on which to share our common Christian faith, but without losing our own Catholic identity which has been reduced to a cultural identity and not a spiritual one.

    • CatherineA

      Our recent popes would disagree with you on “forgetting about” ecumenism. A certain amount of ecumenism is actually evangelization; it’s charity; it’s love; it leads others to the Church. Why on earth would we want to forget about that?

      I agree that we need Catholic liturgy. We need beauty. We need reverence. We need truth. And we also need GOOD PREACHING. Jesus was a preacher, among other things, and obviously a good one. We will never reach the masses of our Protestant brothers and sisters until we can match their preaching, and this should not be so difficult. But as long as we insist it is not necessary, or not a priority, they will continue to stay away by the thousands. We need to see that our failure to accept this is keeping them from the Eucharist. It is preventing the unity Jesus wants. We don’t have to give up anything but the wrong approach — it’s another example of “not either/or, but both/and.”

  • JudyK

    There were two things that brought me back to the Catholic Church….the vernacular Mass and above all things was my belief in the miracle of “transubstantiation”. There was one Franciscan priest at our parish who did the most reverent consecration I have ever seen….I wish that all priests realized this was the most important part of ther “job”…..along with making it clearly understood that this is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. You’ll get it no where else. I have been surprised to learn that many Catholics do not believe this.

  • Amy

    Today when I opened my email I thought you were sending me an image from the Youth Conference at Franciscan in Steubenville. Our family of 10 converted 2.5 years ago and we haven’t stopped socializing since. Sometimes it’s almost too much. I like to ask my friends who left the Catholic Church for mega-churches when they are going to stop using “bad parenting” as an excuse. There are plenty of mediocre Catholic Churches out there, but that does not mean that the pillars of truth have relocated. Fan the flame in your local parish. Then you will be ready when the mega-church brothers and sisters come in for a wedding, funeral, baptism, etc. They may return and never leave!
    I pray the Holy Spirit moves your readers to act on your advice! God be with you!

  • kellie

    Great article. I feel our Priests need to have a heart for the Eucharist, they need to be relieved of their business duties and focus more on the shepherding. We look to them for guidance and often at times they are so busy keeping their office in order. We also need to put people in touch with God. Not just the rules of the faith, but a personal relationship with HIM. How do we do that, we spend time with him, by starting small groups and by growing in faith. We also need more adoration in our churches the power of adoration personally and for our communities is enormous, this needs to come from our priest and his love of the Eucharist. I agree with men’s groups, ones that prayer, read scripture and are not just merely social in nature. Many of our parishioners want to learn more, but often churches are short staffed to provide this, so we have to initiate these groups. Our youth need to be taught scripture and apologetics, not just the sacraments…Theology of the body, we need to think outside the box of when we offer programs too, so that people can come before work etc…lots of ideas and never enough workers in the vineyard.

    • Elizabeth McClintic

      Isn’t Adoration especially Perpetual Adoration where the new priests come from, that and the parish who is steeped and disciplined in daily rosary?

  • Barbara

    Start a “Mom’s Group” for young moms who may need the connection with other young moms and their children. The children can “grow up” together in the church and share experiences/learning. I never had this as a young mom, but my sisters were involved in this in their churches. Solidified friendships and the Faith! Older, experienced moms can be a part of this too.

    • Elizabeth McClintic

      Our “Mom’s” group is called Bible Study. We have a nursery so that the mothers can have a couple of hours steeped in their faith and in the process expose themselves to women of all ages with a wealth of experiences and knowledge.

  • YankeeTexan

    1) Catholic parishes should have a “Catechismal” (is that a word?!) refresher either in the beginning or end of Mass or listed in a prominent position in church bulletins. I see so much dilution of the Catholic faith on a daily basis, something must be done to stand firm in our Faith and actively fight the intrusion of Societal standards vice God’s Standards.
    2) Parishioners and Parishes need to drop the petty and political in-fighting that tends to crop up everywhere to some degree or another…we Catholics are Family…each Parish is a remote outpost, between increasingly hostile Social territories. Families know how to fight (trust me, I know) and they should also know how to Forgive.

  • scott

    I think that essentially, keeping catholics in the pews starts with fear of the lord. Catholics today have no fear and it transmits in the way that we offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Spot on Dr.Marshall in stressing the point that human beings are a sensory drawn creature. Things that are beautiful heighten our sense of God being truly present when we build our best architecture, chant our best, look our best etc. Because God deserves our best. The Catholic church needs courageous leadership that will stamp out the idea the laity has formed that we are just another “denomination”. Pray for our priest, seminarians and religious.

  • Toni Meloche

    JMJ
    Dr. Marshall, in your point 10 on the Eucharist you wrote Eucharistic Minister for applying to the laity. The only Eucharistic Minister is the priest and deacon. Laity are called Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. The ordinary being priest and deacon. I agree with you in the appearances of these extraordinaries. Many are dressed like they are going on a picnic or to a football game and not to meet their Lord. They are our visible witnesses to the Truth that Jesus is present body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Sacrament. There really needs to be training, and a proper dress code. Priests need to step up and tell these peole that if they are not dressed appropriately then they will not be permitted to continue in the ministry. This I believe, includes the lectors and alter severs as well. No one should be wearing sneakers, shorts that are frayed, V-necks that expose a woman’s cleavage, peircings in the tongue, etc. There is a time and place for everything, but how we look, reflects what we believe. There is a saying that goes something like this, a nation that dresses well and speaks well is a nation on the rise and a nation that dresses down and uses foul language is a nation in decline. This can beapplied to faith as well for a church that dresses well is a church that is growing but a church that dresses down is a church in decline. Peace T

  • George

    Hi Jordan, i do believe your understanding of the Eucharist is mistaken. Professing it as the body and blood of our Lord is only the beginning. There are some who profess it out of obedience to the faith. Obedience is what i would call elementary faith… However, we shouldn’t be quick to downplay the importance of obedience. If only there was obedience in the first place the fall of man would not have happened… However, faith comes alive when one goes beyond Obedience. If the Eucharist truly is the body, blood and divinity of Jesus shouldn’t my knees be trembling out of awe when falling in line for communion? Also, if we truly believe that it is in fact Jesus wouldn’t you want to see him everyday? (daily mass) i have a good friend that’s goes to a non-denominational church and has never heard of daily mass. When we truly see Jesus in the Eucharist our unworthiness is magnified and we humble ourselves even more even if we are in a state of grace (after a good confession/examination of conscience). We wouldn’t want to be parted with him anymore and would want to remain in him always… Another friend said to me that even if he were to see it as the real presence he still can’t see how it’s needed for salvation and i just replied “It’s Jesus… How can it not?” All that’s left really to unleash the power is surrender our will to His… All the time spent reading the Bible might be in vain unless it leads you to Jesus…

    It also goes beyond having a personal relationship with Jesus… More often i have noticed that when one simplifies salvation as having a personal relationship with Jesus people end up having their own personal Jesus. I think it’s because each of our definition of “relationship” varies. Personally i have found that Salvation is through communion with Jesus… remaining in him as he remains in me… Now it’s no longer is based on my definition but His… That’s the power of the Eucharist…

    • croixmom

      Good points, George.
      One (not minor) issue though, The Holy Eucharist is the Body, Blood, SOUL, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

      And yes, there is no more intimate relationship with our Redeemer than through Holy Communion.

      Dee Dee

      • George

        Thank you for the correction Dee =)

  • Mary

    Hmmm.The church does need to be relevant to today’s worshippers.I am 61 yrs old.I don’t speak Latin although I studied it.I certainly Like Gregorian Chant…sometimes. I think the church music by Bach is beautiful.But I dont go to Mass to be a member of a cool club.I go to worship God in Community,hear His word,partake in the offering and sacrament.I want to praise God in my words,in my medium.Partaking in the Mass is Mystery enough without having to manufacture any. WhenI was about 15 yrs old I was one of the first guitar players at our first “Folk Mass”. The adults were scandalized,but the youth were participating and loving it.Well,all those teens are the 60 something crowd now.We don’t want to go back to mumbling prayers in Latin,or singing songs written in the 18 th century.This Mass has to be of our community. I don’t think a mega church is a community,but a place where you can become anonymous and unaccountable to your neighbor.So I think all forms of styles of worship should be available,from Latin to quartet,to rock band.The Mystery is in the sacrament.We can’t diminish it.Mass is not a performance.

    • Elizabeth McClintic

      I am of this same era Mary. There is nothing wrong with guitar if it is not in the front of the sanctuary. My husband’s parish, he is a deacon, has a guitarist as their music director, he doesn’t play any other instrument although he is joined by a cellist and a violinist. The music is dignified and beautiful and the director has an amazing voice. Hagen/Hass had its day, but thankfully with the new translations our music is more Christ centered. Vertical prayer leads us to horizontal service. Although the cross needs both directions, in worship, the one that leads us upward has the greatest magnetism and is the source of great grace. To God be the glory. FWIW the first time I heard the Mass parts in Latin after a very long absence due to the Novus Ordo, I thought my heart was going to melt inside me. It had been way too long and the Church of my childhood was the Church of my future once again.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      “I dont go to Mass to be a member of a cool club.”

      My favorite comment quote of the day!

  • Adrian Vincent Yanez

    Great article.

  • Liam

    Taylor, I could not agree more about point 10. I was recently on the planning committee of a province wide WYD @ Home that of course included a daily mass celebrated by 6 of the provinces bishops and priests from all across western Canada, deacons in dalmatics, alter servers in cassocks and surplices, a full on choir dressed professionally, and well dressed readers,. Because of this we had the great blessing of having fully vested priests distribute communion to the faithful, and as one of the event chairs is a traditional Catholic we even had umberlinos. Now this would have been an awesome sight to behold if the umberlino bearers weren’t dressed in short shorts and tank tops. So of course the conversation about a largely unknown Church tradition, became one about the way that the “umbrella-holders” were dressed. Sad :(

  • zxcvb

    The Church needs not to redress itself like a cheap whore to attract people. I rediscovered the Catholic Church with Gregorian, Ambrosian and Barroque chant with ensembles like Ensemble Organum, the Roman Misal of my Grandmother, and the magnificent Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaisance, and Barroque, art and arquitecture of European Churches. The Church needs to retake tradition and get rid of all of the vatican Ii crap. People like to feel like armored knights. And bring back Latin, Masses should be in Latin only, it’s a beautiful language and brings an ancient, mystical and holy atmosphere to the Mass. One of the reasons ppl convert to buddishm or even pigslam it’s because of the somewhat arcane languages used. Besides, no Mass has been valid since the overthrown of Latin and the Words of the Consecration were changed by the accursed Paul VI thus rendering them invalid and no sacrifice is really made.

  • Diddley Squat

    Re paragrah 10. Simple but important. RING THE BELL at the consecration.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      This is very important for catechizing kids. It’s helps them associate the mystery with something tangible.

  • Suzie

    Cut out the fairground music, the jaunty hymns, the gospel like hymns, the CLAPPING for everything – hate that! .
    Teach the kids to take communion reverently – I see teenagers sauntering up to get communion and sauntering back arms swinging and chewing ! Doesn’t anyone think to say something ?
    Ask younger people to be more modest – short skirts and shorts are NOT appropriate !
    Don’t have baptisms as part of the Mass – it’s distracting .

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Modesty (men and women) and reverence are important.

      • CatherineA

        Thanks for mentioning men. Modesty seems to be more a problem with women and girls; irreverence seems to be a problems for both men and women — shirts not tucked in, wrinkled cargo shorts, unshaven, flip flops or dirty sneakers, etc. Improper dress is an equally male/female problem.

  • Victor

    (((Here are 10 things we can do to stop the hemorrhaging.)))

    Another great post Doctor Taylor Marshall

    Keep UP the good words and works

    Peace

  • Danny

    Love it! Keep it coming. I am convicted and scared and busy and lazy and …. all at the same time. I want this for our Church. I am going to pick two. I love the idea of old women teaching young. How about sewing, cooking, cleaning etc? Not because only women can do these but because many of these women have perfected it. I love the idea of my daughters going to a “grandma type” to learn how to crochet while getting a little “Catholic wisdom” on the side. I think it could be a hit. I am going to contemplate how this could work with men. Maybe building, BBQ and oh yes CLEANING.

    • Julie

      Reason #245875 why this “old” woman left the Catholic Church. We’re just good for cleaning, cooking, babysitting, etc. Yes. Because I just got my kids grown and out of the house, so I want to do all those things for someone else or teach someone else’s adult child how to take basic care of themselves. Of course.

      No.

      I’m in my fifties, my kids are in their twenties and thirties. I’m “old”, I suppose, by Catholic standards, especially since I’m past menopause. But I also just ran a 50k with over 7000 feet elevation gain and came in first in my age group, fourth woman overall. Also, I have a housecleaning service.

      The nice thing about my “megachurch” (it’s not _that_ mega…yet) is that I’m not treated like an old woman waiting to die just because my childbearing years are over. I’m seen as a vibrant, active, healthy adult woman, not a little old crone who can sit in the corner and teach someone to crochet while I spout out words of wisdom now that my primary purpose of popping out babies is over.

      Sheesh. Hard to believe it’s 2013 somedays…

      • Julie

        Oh cute. “Down twinkles”. And Catholics can’t figure out why they’re bleeding congregants.

        Shut up and clean, old lady, we’ve no other use for you!

        Yeah, I got that loud and clear.

        • YankeeTexan

          Hmmm, I sense a little bit of self-entitlement in your previous posts…

          • Julie

            Really? What do you think I think I’m entitled to?

  • a growing Catholic

    By becoming prayerful people ourselves, we will then inspire others to wonder about their own state of being Catholic. Be ready to give reasons for your hope and reasons for being Catholic.

  • Kellie

    I keep coming back to this article today. Thank you Dr Marshall for lighting the flame of the Holy Spirit in me, to think about this topic. I agree with what others have said. If people truly knew what was being offered at the Catholic Church – a chance to personally receive Jesus Christ on a daily basis up close and personal, they would flock to our churches. Instead they head to “rock concert” style auditoriums and pass around some grape juice and bread once a month. Also I ahve found the lighthouse CD program to work well with non-catholics at my husband’s work.. he takes them in and they listen and hand them back to us.. then we let the Holy Spirit lead them… lots of ways we can plant small seeds.

    • Najib Nasr

      Brother Danny, you said, “If people truly knew what was being offered at the Catholic Church…they would flock to our churches.” You are saying, ‘Disseminate knowledge about the one and only Church Jesus Christ instituted with His Blood.’ And right you are. The practical channel for knowledge is APOLOGETICS! There is no time to waste. God bless.

  • Najib Nasr

    Well and good, Dr. Marshall. To get me to the Eucharist, you need to infuse me with knowledge of God and make it interesting; spin a yarn that is the Truth. Show me beyond doubt that that the Church that Jesus Christ instituted is the Catholic Church. Saying that St. Ignatius is the first one on record to have called the Church, catholic is not enough. One has to make the connection visible.
    St. Ignatius of Antioch was John’s student/disciple. He was ordained by Peter. He lived a third of a century concurrently with John. If he had any queries, John was there to answer them. John was given a crash course by the Holy Spirit, like all the other Apostles because they were not able to grasp things fully in those three years with our Lord. Jesus said, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth” (John 16:12-13).
    In the first words ever written of what entered into the Bible were Paul’s words, “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the holy Spirit and (with) much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). That was in the year 50! For 17 years, nothing was written. It was the Sacred Oral Word through the mouths of the Apostles, and retention was supernatural “in power and in the holy Spirit and with much conviction.” John gave the Word to Ignatius supernaturally and Ignatius gave it to us likewise (2 Timothy 1:14); and the words of St. Ignatius, 40 years Bishop of Antioch, his words are the Gospel Truth and by God’s providence these words survived and are here with us:
    St. Ignatius of Antioch: “Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church.”
    St. Ignatius of Antioch: “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again,”

    What am I talking about?! APOLOGETICS! APOLOGETICS! APOLOGETICS!
    “I

  • http://www.ardanziger.com/ A.R. Danziger

    When I wanted to facilitate a Bible study for the young adult group at my parish, I had to go through the diocese catechist training. It was more than a bit onerous. Though I agree you don’t want a group to form with a leader with absolutely no training and no accountablity. But it’s not hard to say, have a 1 evening or 1 day workshop on how to lead a Bible study, and it’s not hard at all to lead one (I learned during my protestant days).

    Here’s some handy tips:
    1. Get a solid Catholic bible study guide with questions (Someone mentioned Cavins; Hahn is great too.)
    2. You’re a facilitator, not a lecturer. Your job is to get everyone in the group talking and contributing and answering the questions themselves. Make sure no one person dominates or drives you too far off topic.

    3. Have a copy of the catechism ready to resolve difficult questions or disputes.
    4. Try to refrain from advising people, send them to a priest if there’s a very serious matter. But do pray for them!
    5. Set the tone by lighting a candle, having a crucifix or icon, and praying before and after. If the idea makes you nervous, you can ask for a volunteer, or you can stick to Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s and maybe “Leader: For (fill in the blank) we pray to the Lord. Response: Lord hear our prayer.”

  • gordon

    I absolutely agree that the preaching should be vastly improved. Instead of talking about global warming or telling a humorous anecdote teach the faith. Challenge people and don’t be afraid to tell the truth! Call sin what it is and quit worrying about donations dropping if you tell people the Truth. I am not a fan of chant but it is better than the horrendous music in our hymnal. The protestants have a lot of great hymns and gospel songs. It is not a sin to use them!

  • Liz

    Hi, I have a Facebook page called “Love Being Catholic” that is currently reaching several million people per week. I love how social media (your page in particular) can be used to help spread the joy and beauty of our Catholic faith. People are truly eager to learn the faith, and pages like yours are helping so many. It’s refreshing to see how many Catholics there are around the world that are on fire for the faith! Thank you for this page- love it! In Christ, Liz

  • Mark Chance

    Good suggestions. In my admittedly limited, unscientific experience, I’ve yet to personally encounter an ex-Catholic who didn’t become an ex-Catholic because of the Church’s teachings regarding sexuality, marriage, and/or contraception. Dissent seems to start below the waist and creep up from
    there.

    • Julie

      Hi.

      There, you just met one.

      • Gentillylace

        I am a Catholic revert who was in the Orthodox Church for 13 years. The main reasons I entered the Orthodox Church were because I felt lonely in the large Southern California suburban Catholic parishes (I was, and am, the only churchgoer in my immediate family) and because I met in an Orthodox mission parish a wonderful priest (a convert from Pentecostalism), his wife (a former Catholic), and their young children who were all very welcoming to me. The main reason I returned to the Catholic Church was because I was in an “ethnic” parish and I came across a limit of that particular jurisdiction’s tolerance of converts who are not spouses of people of that particular ethnicity. (Also, I was going to grad school at the time and it was easier for me to attend a Catholic parish than to go to an Orthodox parish.)

        The Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality, marriage and/or contraception had nothing to do with my conversion to the Orthodox Church or my reversion to the Catholic Church, as I was (and remain) a never-married woman who strives to remain chaste.

  • Theresa Moore

    God love you Dr. Taylor! It is about the Eucharist. This is a quote from the servant of God Fr. John Hardon one of my hero priests ” the Beatific Vision is simply the Eucharist unveiled and enjoyed for eternity.” Keep up your good work.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Great quote. I love it!

  • elbo43

    Improve catechesis for the young. Teach parents how to teach their children the faith, starting young and especially parents of adolescents: how to deal with culture and peer pressure. We could do a lot better as a Church.

  • Tony

    YES!! Everything you said here Dr. Marshall.. this needs to be spread far and wide…

  • Gideon

    “The unification of Catholicism and Protestantism is probably impossible, although it would do both parties much good” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    Why does this have to be an “us” vs. “them” deal? Are Protestants brothers and sisters in Christ, or not? Do we preach heresy, or not? Additionally, why all the assumptions that all mega-churches provide is entertainment, fellowship, friendship, and technology? I personally attend a “mega-church” (congregation of ~ 5-7k) and while yes, the music, sermons, classes, and fellowship are all usually excellent quality, the REASON I go is because of the sound doctrine that is consistently preached Sunday after Sunday after Sunday – that we are all imperfect, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Perhaps some former Catholic congregants are leaving because they really believe that.

  • Igor S Alejandre

    The way I recovered my lost Catholic faith , was going back to the Holy Traditional Latin Mass. No more guitars, no more clowns , no more showmen priests. Unfortunately, these modern priests believe that being more funny equals being more saint. it is all the other war around. The gregorian chant, the incense, the candles and the liturgy made me come back to my senses. Thank you

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Amen brother.

  • jacobum

    Great points. Great article. All we need is several hundred thousand men just like you. How can we clone you? The feminization of the Church Nice at all levels over the last 50 years has just turned off the men like a light switch. Unfortunately, the Bishops and priests have allowed it to happen and they are enablers more than anything. Guys learn about strategic retreat early when faced with overwhelming estrogen. It’s all about humility, truth, masculine leadership and holiness from the men who claim to be Bishops. Guys don’t like to follow wimps and wusses. We want righteous causes and leaders to follow. Real men will not follow those whom they don’t respect. Today, it’s called being passive aggressive. Don’t know, but I would be willing to wager that the strong orthodox bishops have not a problem with getting men involved in their dioceses”. Back to basics. Fix the liturgy, teach the one True Faith and Live it. A good beginning would be for the USCCB and all the Bishops to formally renounce the Godless, Culture of Death, Democrat Party; Drop all political affiliations with both Parties; have each of the Bishops formally change their voting status to “Independent” or “Non-Affiliated”; and voluntarily change the Churches tax status from a “not for profit” to a regular corporate status. Get out from under the Government NFP tax hammer. Enough of the feel good, “I’m Ok, Your Ok” nonsense which their silence endorses in the name of “social justcie” and the “spirit of vatican 2″. Get back and concentrate on the Spiritual Works of Mercy which everyone has forgotten or ignored. Do so and the Corporal works will follow naturally. We have forgotten that “Our Momma wears combat boots!” It’s about time for them to start acting and living like they really believe it.

  • Betsy

    Read the book, “Rebuilt”

  • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com/ Kevin Tierney

    As others have said (and Dr. Marshall might’ve said just to make the post really short!), bring back traditionalism. okay, so the Latin Mass won’t re-appear in every parish overnight. That’s cool. But bringing back chant, bringing back emphasis of the sacraments (especially confession), and making our churches actually look Catholic again.
    That’s an agenda traditionalists really can get behind.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Kevin, you can read between the lines!

      • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com/ Kevin Tierney

        Also to elaborate more on your first few points…. Catholicism (especially when it flourished in America) was more than just a religion you worshipped in. It was a way of life you participated in. There were social groups in addition to Church groups that were non “worship” in nature, but something for Catholics to belong to. Nowadays too many of our parishes are just worship centers.
        I really don’t think we will ever have a flourshing Catholicism in America (outside of a small subculture of traditionalists and your more traditional-minded ordinary form folks) until we start rebuilding those civic institutions, and unfortunately, it will most likely come without institutional church support.

  • Marissa Nichols

    Great Ideas! Should be forwarded to every pastor in the country!

  • Kololeke

    Believers in Jesus Christ should demonstrate those beliefs. You can still maintain reverence while attending the Mass; however, if you feel the Holy Spirit feel free to be uplifted and pray & sing with gusto, enthusiasm, full of love for our Triune God. I believe Catholics leave because they feel rigid religiously and feel solemnly awkward to express their full participation in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. More joyous fellowship and outpouring of spreading the Good News actively by evangelization between parishioners and other believers must occur to keep our Catholics at home. Youth, Young Adults, and Adult Fellowship dynamic groups are also vital.

  • Jasper Monroe Ylanan

    Taylor Marshall for Pope!
    Just Kidding.

  • Gary Miller

    Great piece. As someone who came to the Catholic faith later in life I can totally relate to many of these pieces. Yet, some of these issues are some of the biggest reasons I struggle with being Catholic.

    The two that really stood out are #8 and #9. I’ve grown fond of attending daily Mass as well as the normal Sunday Mass with my family. I’ve had the pleasure of doing this literally all over the world thanks to my former career in the military and I’ve yet to hear powerful, dynamic, preaching in any Catholic setting. No doubt one of the reasons people flock to mega churches is that many of the speakers who are preaching in those assemblies are very engaging and understand at a high level the importance of impacting the audience. It’s as if basic homiletics and public speaking is a topic completely ignored in the training Priests receive. Beyond that, people sitting in the pews need to be challenged, rebuked, and actually instructed. I have no doubt there are exceptions, but in my experience since conversion I’ve yet to experience passionate, edifying, preaching in any building with Catholic on the sign.

    I have nothing positive to say about my RCIA experience. It was a means to an end of “getting in” but not helpful at all. Like many Protestants who find their way to the Catholic faith, I found my way there academically. I read my way into a Catholic life. The RCIA instructors I encountered helped little in that process. I was amazed at their lack of core understanding not only of basic Catholic doctrine but how they absolutely fell apart when it came to Biblical knowledge. As for being challenged on Catholic doctrine from scripture? Forget about it, they were not up for the task. Are there exceptions in some places? No doubt there are great RCIA teams somewhere but in general across parishes I’ve been involved in the entire process needs to not only be renamed but revamped in length, focus, and training for those conducting it.

    I really appreciate the spirit of this piece. I think a lot of Catholics have left because frankly many parishes have set up a culture of Catholic-light that is a nice introduction to basic Protestant services. The casual atmosphere, contemporary music and architecture, lack of solid preaching, are all wonderful introductions and gateways of sorts right out the door.

  • Therese

    How about fasting and making sacrifices? I believe the profuse bleeding we are seeing is because no one does penance anymore. Didn’t our Lady constantly say in all her apparitions…’Do penance”

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  • cminca

    It is refreshing to see someone actually admit that the cc is nothing but a business.

  • croixmom

    Really, I think it comes down to the Liturgy. It’s easy to get distracted with preaching, pop music, pancake breakfasts…… It has been mentioned in the comments a few times, the Traditional Mass parishes are growing. They are over-brimming with young families. Amazingly, the preaching in those parishes tends to be much better. It begins with the priestly formation. Most priests that are formed with Thomistic philosophy are likely to be bold enough to preach that from the pulpit.

    Amazingly, those traditional parishes are not run by the laity. They are run by the Priest and the congregation does not presume to tell the priests how to run the parish. The laity have no say in the liturgy — and they shouldn’t. Religious Ed, catechesis, sacramental prep is done by the clergy. And frankly, the more generous a priest is, the more generous his congregation will be.

    I think comparing Roman Catholic Priests to protestant preachers is doing a great injustice to our Priests. Preachers are trained public speakers. Priest’s primary focus is the salvation of souls. There are priests who are great preachers, and then there are priests who may not be the best speakers, but are awesome at other parts of their priestly vocations. I don’t recall ever reading about say, Padre Pio being a great preacher. But he was an awesome confessor and spiritual director.

    There is a priest in Kansas City who will make you race to the confessional, with his preaching. To me, the best preaching is the preaching that tells me HOW to love God. The preaching that helps me become aware of how I offend God. The more selfless the priest, the better his ministry….. but honestly, he teaches much better by his example than by simply delivering a stirring sermon.

    I don’t attend Mass for entertainment. In fact, I walk out of Masses that are more interested in entertaining and telling God and one another about how awesome they are.

    Give me a proper Liturgy that is offered for the Greater Glory of God, focusing on the SACRIFICE. Then I am at peace and can better smile at my parish family. Outside of the Mass.

  • Tammy

    LOVE these ideas!

  • GregAnthony Maria

    Totally agree! ( yes I am in “The Valley”) I am the Only and Lonely Male Catechist in my Parish. We do have some very faithful men Mentors in the RCIA program- but being a RETURNED catholic from Protestantism- I have friends that want to join Holy Mother Church, yet find RCIA very daunting if not defeating- they’re seeking “life” and change today while we have to ask them to be patient as Their needs are also going to have to be patient. Life often demands an antidote that we seem to have- but Many feel we are indifferent to them. I believe these candidates can assimilate as well or better than many cradle Catholics have. I believe we need a more responsive and ministering attitude as well as Time sensitive. ( many leave the Church in the first place not because they long for different theology- but because they want to “feel” Gods Love simply and quickly- we do suffer from generational immediate gratification .)
    Lastly I am the Leader of the Men’s small group at my Parish. We Love Jesus, and we do seek to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill our duties as Men. But it is lonely here too, even as we know we need to raise up new leaders as we go and grow.
    Love your insights. Pray for me as I seek TD to Christ thru Mary this next feast. Bless you brother. Put that in your pipe- :)

  • Tricia

    So great– agree x 10. We are STARVING for the real Church. Watering down Catholicism to make us more like Protestants hasn’t gone well for 40 years. We must be ourselves and celebrate Who made us that way.

  • Nick Hladek

    With respect, the sacrament is called Anointing of the Sick, not “Extreme Unction.” Certainly this sacrament is for the dying, but also for many others who are not dying as well! It’s not only for “the end,” but is an important part of the pastoral care of the sick!

    • croixmom

      Nick, If I am at the hour of my death, I want Extreme Unction. That comes with annointing, viaticum, absolution, and the Apostolic Blessing. With respect. It is also known as “Last Rites”. Oh. And I want it in Latin. Not the watered down vernacular that the devil laughs at.

  • Joisy Goil

    Although I am a cradle Catholic half of my extended family is protestant. I
    grew up listening to the Protestant preachers as a child while vacationing at
    Grandma’s – there were no Catholic churches in her area. Even as a child I was
    enthralled by the Preacher’s ability to draw pictures with words and to stir my
    imagination.

    I have always said the Protestant churches could teach us Catholics quite a
    few things. Protestant people dress properly and respectfully for church. Many
    Catholics dress in a disrespectful manner. Protestants know their bible, many
    Catholics do not. I have never seem Protestants leave church before the service
    is over, Catholics routinely do this.

    Now anyone with common sense would say, since you actually have Christ
    present body and blood, soul and divinity at the Catholic church it would seem
    that Christians of all denominations would flock to the church.

    If a rumor got around that Jesus was seen at a mountain top or some other
    place, people would go to great effort to get there. But to go to church where He is
    always present? Very few want to go or they say “let’s go and get it over with”.
    Why?

    The Eucharist is real I believe it, I feel it and I know it. I have never
    been able to understand why the Catholic church can’t ‘sell’ (as in persuade
    belief in – not set a price upon) the Eucharist. If people actually believed I
    think you would never be able to close the doors.

    Maybe it’s because we have the ‘real thing’ and because of that simple fact
    the devil works much, much harder to discourage people from going there

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

    Catechize our children from the Bible such that they will be the evangelizers.

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

    Re #9, our diocesan RCIA program was so out-of-synch with the Bible-Belt catechumens we get that my wife and I had to write our own Bible-based curriculum from scratch. So I am naturally suspicious of any notion of standardized RCIA that probably won’t reach the people we would have in our program.

    • croixmom

      kkollwitz, You keep harping on bible- bible- bible.
      As a trained catechist, I’m sure you know that the Church not sola scriptura. Tradition has a huge part to play in our Faith. The catechism is based on scripture and tradition; the papal encyclicals are scripture-based.

      I recently attended a conference and one of the speakers was a very dynamic speaker…… a priest. A priest who offers the Traditional Mass even. The particular conference was a response to the attacks on our faith by protestants (for our kids when they go to college, etc.)

      He pointed out that the bible-based protestants don’t really know the bible. They memorize a few choice lines of scripture. But if you take that as a starting point and ask them to pull out their bible and read the passages immediately before and immediately after the particular passage they may be quoting, their argument falls apart.

      The thing is that scripture-based protestants have ONLY the scriptures. And they don’t even have the fullness of the scriptures.
      Catholics may not be able to quote book, chapter, and verse, but they know the stories.

      One of my friend’s daughter is courting a very nice protestant young man. He attended Holy Mass with her family. His complaint: TOO MUCH SCRIPTURE.

      Catholics hear and learn far more scripture than we realize. We tend to be intimidated by people quoting chapter and verse. But those peeps are quoting ONLY chapter and verse, without actually knowing the fullness of the lesson they are pulling from.

      The Baltimore Catechism is rock-solid.
      Bible and Church history are rock-solid.
      Be careful about bible to the exclusion of the fullness of the faith: we have the catechism; we have the encyclicals — which are amazing; we have the sacraments.

      Oh, and it would be best if the parishes allowed the priests to direct the catechesis.
      my .02

      • Christian LeBlanc

        “As a trained catechist, I’m sure you know that the Church not sola scriptura. Tradition has a huge part to play in our Faith. The catechism is based on scripture and tradition; the papal encyclicals are scripture-based.”

        Yes! The CCC, Tradition, encyclicals and councils all inform my Bible-as-textbook teaching.
        There’s no substutute for Catholic kids to learn about the Incarnate Word straight from the Written Word, the quintessentially-Catholic book: the Bible.

      • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ kkollwitz

        Yes: the Church is not sola scriptura. Tradition has a huge part to play in our Faith. The catechism is based on scripture and tradition; the papal encyclicals are scripture-based.

        All great reasons for Catholic kids to learn their Catholic faith from the divinely-inspired Catholic book: the Bible.

  • Carole

    Talk to people about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus in the church, how to entrust their lives to him through a personal act of faith, and how to know him better through the word. If you do these three things, and then catechize for sacramental life, the megachurch will have zero edge on Catholicism.

  • LR

    Spread JOY! We do have Really good news to share!

  • David Zacchetti

    Every Catholic from bishop to layman should understand that the Church exists to seek and save the lost. And that it was founded by Jesus Christ. With that understanding, most everything else should fall into place.

  • Andy

    It comes down to the seven precepts of the Church, but when a soul is in love, they will do more than the minimum. EVERYONE is called to partake in the apostolic mission of the Church. Indifference is the cancer of the soul.

  • Joseph Juliantono

    You are brilliant!
    Pax!
    JJ

  • Kilo Whiskey

    10 great steps for every Catholic, and I’ll add one more:
    #11: Learn & share the KERYGMA : the apostolic proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s the very heart of the gospel, the core message of the Christian faith that all believers are call to proclaim.

  • ThirstforTruth

    Great list of ideas for action Dr Marshall! I would make one change by placing the Eucharist at the
    very beginning instead of the end. It is the focal point of our faith and where it all begins, or
    should. Its priority above all else cannot ever be over-emphasized…..and what separates us
    from all the denominations; the Someone they can never offer, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Sacramental Host!

  • Carolynn

    Many good points are made here … I offer these thoughts as follows, based on my experience, & the experience of others I know:

    Many leave the church because they are hungry for the Word of God to be taught. This is not a criticism of the Catholic worship service, and I am not saying that the message is not there, but on the whole there is not enough teaching of Scripture to the body of Christ. The Body & the Blood of our Lord, in Communion is essential of course, and to my mind a major area where the protestant churches fall short. It is the main reason I am back home with my church. However, many of the fractured/divided protestant churches excel in the area of preaching & teaching the Bible. (though of course, I believe they get communion wrong, as it is more than a “symbol”) … Still, we have a lot to learn from each other. I have learned much from the easily accessible teaching of the evangelical community & other Christian church Bible studies. I was raised Catholic & love much about the beauty & worship of the church, and give thanks for my Catholic upbringing that taught me to know & love Jesus. Yet, there came a time in my life, (a story too long & complicated to relate in this venue) where circumstances caused me to seek Christ elsewhere. I have lived in both faith communities, – and have returned to my Catholic faith.

    I now attend the offered Bible studies at my local Catholic church, but in comparison with the number of members, it is not well attended. A couple of hundred I would guess out of more than approx 6,000 + families. It makes me sad, to find Catholics who have never studied Scripture. Some are doing so now late in life, as the church is making more of an attempt in this area. The youth are basically absent from these studies. I cannot tell you how many parents have told me with a broken heart, how they have raised their kids in the Catholic faith, sent them to Catholic school, and now they have joined another church and are studying the Bible. A common complaint I hear from non-catholic Christians is that Catholics do not know the Bible & have very little interest in learning/ studying it. Sadly I find this to be true in many cases. Much of the solid Biblical teaching I have had, comes from sources outside the Catholic church. I give thanks for this teaching, as well as the teaching & faith I gained from the Catholic Church. I know I still have much to learn. And yes, there are differences, and confusing things which I am still working through, in regard to various teachings and points of view. One can never exhaust the study of God & His Word!

    In my humble opinion, the Church needs to more aggressively encourage Catholics to study the Scriptures, & to emphasis the absolute need for it. Also, to make more opportunities available for people to studying God’s Word. My local church now offers an evening Bible study, but originally there was only a morning study. People who work could not attend. Study of the Bible should be a main emphasis. It is not. As I see it, – short, & out of context readings of the Word at Mass, are not enough to feed the congregation & to more fully inform us of the whole of God’s Word. I was hungry for the Word & found it being taught through many other outlets. I would encourage the church to be on fire as they preach & teach the Scriptures. To feed the flock, not only with The Body & The Blood of our Lord Jesus, but also with more attention to the teaching of His precious Word in an evangelical style. Then, they will come home! Then, those who are in the pews can become knowledgeable in defending the faith. I say these things not in hostility, but with a humble spirit of encouragement. May the Church not be lukewarm, but alive to God. May the Lord continue to lead and guide His Church through His Holy Word, & to raise up vibrant teachers who will disciple the flock & lead us in the study of the Holy Scriptures ….. I pray that ” the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, may be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my God , and my Redeemer.”

  • Abouttime

    AMEN!!! We need groups groups groups and require that people go out and engage with the community. As Catholics, we think we do t need to do this, a little arrogant if you will.

  • Frank

    Our priests and deacons need to re-emphasize that our Lord
    is present as we enter the nave. Our conversations about our weekly events,
    football games and doctors visits should be reserved for the foyer. All
    respect, reverence and silence should be held in reserve for our Lord who is
    present in the tabernacle. We should
    present ourselves dressed modestly and properly for the audience we will have
    with our Lord, and not be dressed as if we are going to the beach. Our Lords
    body should only be touched by the consecrated hands of a priest and we need to
    return to communion on the tongue. We walk back to our pew after receiving our
    Lords body with total irreverence, looking around and chewing as if we had a
    wad of bubble gum in our mouth.

  • http://justapipe.com mahaffy

    We’re still caught in the Vatican II “revival” era, here; hard to get away from the folksy Indian chant and New Orleans spirituals kind of music when that’s what the choir director grew up with. As for the RCIA, I threw out the pablum and taught my classes from “Triumph,” and was pleased when it finally dawned on the kids that they were studying the history of Western civilization. Of course, after a couple of years, I wasn’t asked to teach again . . . but I at least influenced a good handful of future parishioners.

  • jg

    My son left the church after he entered college in the early 90s. He left because it had nothing for him. I belief the church needs to improve our youth programs. The other churches do this very well. To do this we need lay leaders and knowledge of great programs to latch on to. The register is a good source to spread this information. If we train them up with the three pillars: social, spiritual, and service, they are less likely to leave. My son and his family are strong Christians today in another faith. I pray we cultivate the young hearts and minds!n

    • croixmom

      @jg,
      It is the liturgy. And catechism. And living our Faith. Did your son receive good catechism and apologetics training when he was still in your home? Did you pray the Family Rosary daily?
      It is NOT the responsibility of lay readers or lay catechists to teach the faith. It is the parent’s responsibility.
      There is no need for gimmicks. Hopefully your son and his family will be led to a solid Traditional Catholic parish that focuses everything on the Mass. If a soul is being nurtured spiritually, the charity will flow naturally from that.

  • Joe

    Nuns should recoup their identities as religious, and start wearing veils again and some sort of habit that outwardly witnesses to who they are and what they believe in. The organ needs to be brought back to its important position in church and get rid of the hootenanny/rock.The tabernacle needs to be back in its prominent place in the sanctuary…..not in a remote corner (if that) collecting dust.

  • cheeriosinmypocket

    Excellent! Thanks for using our beautiful Church, St. Stephen’s, in Cleveland, OH! It is a must visit for few compare with its beauty and magnificence.

  • NewsDogReports on FB

    Great article. I agree with much of it

  • Mary from Emmitsburg

    I would like to hear more from the pulpit why the Roman Catholic Church is unique (the church established by Jesus Christ) and not just one option among many. The homilies we usually get explaining the scripture reading of the day is the same thing I could hear at any number of protestant churches. Would like to tie Gospel reading with church teaching/catechism and emphasize that we are the ONLY church with a valid Eucharist.

  • Ginkgo100

    As an RCIA catechist I disagree with #9. RCIA should NOT be “standardized” because converts are not standard. Instead, RCIA programs should stick to the rite (instead of winging it) and should be flexible and year-round, rather than having a fixed schedule of September-to-Easter as in many parishes.

  • sunny

    OH! MAybe this is my chance. Mega hurches are in business, and yes, have drawn many Catholics, such has been my own experience. BUT THERE ARE REASONS. Look at what some of them have been doing, like inviting Jesus to come into their hearts, trusting the work of the Holy Spirit, allowing them to hear from the Holy Spirit, as they read and meditate on the precious Word of God. REmember, we are all on a journey, even being in a megachurch has great value because , very often, Jesus is being lifted up. And what did our Lord say? If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself. Here’s what happened to me. AFter 10 years, I missed “The Eucharist” , did a lot of reading and studying the history of the church, etc., and came back to the Catholic church. Another point, remember that it is the Father who draws people to our Savior, so we pray believing, trust and see the goodness of the Lord. EVen Philip had to instruct the Ethiopian in the fullness of the faith as he knew it. Let’ see the megachurches as hoardes of brothers and sisters waiting to be filled with more light. Thank God for all Chrisizns who preach Christ and Him cruciciex. Amen

  • Cindy

    Begin by teaching the basics of our Faith…again. Catholics — and others — must know WHY we do what we do and WHY we believe as we do…

  • Marimer Cruz-Nieves

    Another thing we need to tell other Catholics practicing or not is that we have Eastern Rites that have a beautiful liturgy.ANTIOCHIAN FAMILY OF LITURGICAL RITES

    The Church of Antioch in Syria (the ancient Roman Province of Syria) is considered an apostolic
    See
    by virtue of having been founded by St. Peter. It was one of the ancient centers of the
    Church, as the New Testament attests, and is the source of a family of similar Rites using
    the ancient Syriac language (the Semitic dialect used in Jesus’ time and better known as
    Aramaic). Its Liturgy is attributed to St. James and the Church of Jerusalem.

    1. WEST SYRIAC

    • Maronite – Never separated from Rome. Maronite Patriarch of Antioch.
    The liturgical language is Aramaic. The 3 million Maronites are found in Lebanon
    (origin), Cyprus, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Canada, US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and
    Australia.

    • Syriac – Syriac Catholics who returned
    to Rome in 1781 from the monophysite heresy. Syriac Patriarch of
    Antioch. The 110,000 Syriac Catholics are found in
    Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Canada and the US.

    • Malankarese – Catholics from the South of India evangelized by St.
    Thomas, uses the West Syriac liturgy. Reunited with Rome in 1930. Liturgical languages
    today are West Syriac and Malayalam. The 350,000 Malankarese Catholics are found in India
    and North America.

    2. EAST SYRIAC

    • Chaldean – Babylonian Catholics returned to Rome in 1692 from the
    Nestorian heresy. Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans. Liturgical languages are Syriac
    and Arabic. The 310,000 Chaldean Catholics are found in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt,
    Turkey and the US.

    • Syro–Malabarese – Catholics from Southern India using the East Syriac
    liturgy. Returned to Rome in the 16th century from the Nestorian heresy. Liturgical
    languages are Syriac and Malayalam. Over 3 million Syro–Malabarese Catholics can be found
    in the state of Kerela, in SW India.

    BYZANTINE FAMILY OF LITURGICAL RITES

    The Church of Constantinople became the political and religious center of the eastern
    Roman Empire after the Emperor Constantine built a new capital there (324–330) on the site
    of the ancient town of Byzantium. Constantinople developed its own liturgical rite from
    the Liturgy of St. James, in one form as modified by St. Basil, and in a more commonly
    used form, as modified by St. John Chrysostom. After 1054, except for brief periods of
    reunion, most Byzantine Christians have not been in communion with Rome.
    They make up the
    Orthodox Churches of the East, whose titular head is the Patriarch of Constantinople. The
    Orthodox Churches are mostly auto–cephalous, meaning self–headed, united to each other by
    communion with Constantinople, which exercises no real authority over them. They are
    typically divided into Churches along nation lines. Those that have returned to communion
    with the Holy See are represented among the Eastern Churches and Rites of the Catholic
    Church.

    1. ARMENIAN

    Considered either its own Rite or an older version of the Byzantine. Its exact form is not
    used by any other Byzantine Rite. It is composed of Catholics from the first people to
    convert as a nation, the Armenians (N.E. of Turkey), and who returned to Rome at the
    time of the Crusades. Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. The liturgical language is
    classical Armenian. The 350,000 Armenian Catholics are found in Armenia, Syria, Iran,
    Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Ukraine, France, Romania, United States and
    Argentina. Most Armenians are Orthodox, not in union with Rome.

    2. BYZANTINE

    • Albanian – Albanian Christians, numbering only 1400 today, who resumed
    communion with Rome in 1628. Liturgical language is Albanian. Most Albanian Christians are
    Albanian Orthodox.

    • Belarussian/Byelorussian – Unknown number of Belarussians who returned
    to Rome in the 17th century. The liturgical language is Old Slavonic. The faithful can be
    found in Belarus, as well as Europe, the Americas and Australia.

    • Bulgarian – Bulgarians who returned to Rome in 1861. Liturgical
    language is Old Slavonic. The 20,000 faithful can be found in Bulgaria. Most Bulgarian
    Christians are Bulgarian Orthodox.

    • Czech – Czech Catholics of Byzantine Rite organized into a jurisdiction
    in 1996.

    • Krizevci – Croatian Catholics of Byzantine Rite who resumed communion
    with Rome in 1611. The liturgical language is Old Slavonic. The 50,000 faithful can
    be found in Croatia and the Americas. Most Croatians are Roman (Rite) Catholics.

    • Greek – Greek Christians who returned to Rome in 1829. The liturgical
    language is Greek. Only 2500 faithful in Greece, Asia Minor (Turkey) and Europe. Greek
    Christians are almost all Orthodox, whose Patriarch is the Orthodox Patriarch of
    Constantinople.

    • Hungarian – Descendants of Ruthenians who returned to Rome in 1646. The
    liturgical languages are Greek, Hungarian and English. The 300,000 faithful are found in
    Hungary, Europe and the Americas.

    • Italo–Albanian – Never separated from Rome, these 60,000 Byzantine Rite
    Catholics are found in Italy, Sicily and the Americas. The liturgical languages are Greek
    and Italo–Albanian.

    • Melkite – Catholics from among those separated from Rome in Syria and
    Egypt who resumed Communion with Rome at the time of the Crusades. However, definitive
    union only came in the 18th century. Melkite Greek Patriarch of Damascus. Liturgical
    languages are Greek, Arabic, English, Portuguese and Spanish. The over 1 million Melkite
    Catholics can be found in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Canada, US, Mexico, Brazil,
    Venezuela, Argentina and Australia.

    • Romanian – Romanians who returned to Rome in 1697. The liturgical
    language is Romanian. There are over 1 million Romanian Catholics in Romania, Europe and
    the Americas. Most Romanian Christians are Romanian Orthodox.

    • Russian – Russians who returned to communion with Rome in 1905. The
    liturgical language is Old Slavonic. An unknown number of the faithful in Russia, China,
    the Americas and Australia. Most Russian Christians are Russian
    Orthodox, whose Patriarch
    is the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow.

    • Ruthenian – Catholics from among those separated from Rome in Russia,
    Hungary and Croatia who reunited with Rome in 1596 (Brest–Litovsk) and 1646
    (Uzhorod).

    • Slovak – Byzantine Rite Catholics of Slovakian origin numbering 225,000
    and found in Slovakia and Canada.

    • Ukrainian – Catholics from among those separated from Rome by the Greek
    Schism and reunited about 1595. Patriarch or Metropolitan of Lviv. Liturgical languages are Old Slavonic
    and the vernacular. The 5.5 million Ukrainian Catholics can be found in Ukraine, Poland,
    England, Germany, France, Canada, US, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. During the Soviet
    era Ukrainian Catholics were violently forced to join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Their
    hierarchy, which continued to exist outside the homeland, has since been re–established in
    Ukraine.

    ALEXANDRIAN FAMILY OF LITURGICAL RITES

    The Church of Alexandria in Egypt was one of the original centers of
    Christianity, since like Rome and Antioch it had a large Jewish population which was the
    initial object of apostolic evangelization. Its Liturgy is attributed to St. Mark the
    Evangelist, and shows the later influence of the Byzantine Liturgy, in addition to its
    unique elements.

    • Coptic – Egyptian Catholics who returned to communion with Rome in
    1741. The Patriarch of Alexandria leads the 200,000 faithful of this ritual Church spread
    throughout Egypt and the Near East. The liturgical languages are Coptic (Egyptian)
    and Arabic. Most Copts are not Catholics.

    • Ethiopian/Abyssinian – Ethiopian Coptic Christians who returned to
    Rome in 1846. The liturgical language is Geez. The 200,000 faithful are found in Ethiopia,
    Eritrea, Somalia, and Jerusalem.

  • Marimer Cruz-Nieves

    There are many people leaving the Catholic Church due to ignorance.Lets remind them why are we Catholics.

  • Deacon Gary Kappler Sr.

    There are no such people as Eucharistic ministers! Extraordinary or Ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, nothing else. Thank You

  • John Clifford

    If the Church really wants to stem the outflow, let priests marry, and allow women to be priests. Those two things would resuscitate the church and preserve it for the future like nothing else ever could.

    • http://codephined.com Daniel Brooks

      I couldn’t help but laugh a little. It is this very thing that is collapsing the Episcopalian “church.” Because Protestantism is inherently left-leaning, once you give into one precept held by any of the plethora of “liberty” issues upheld by these sects, the slide left never ends.

      I think you’re confusing so-called Enlightenment-era “libertas” with the Church.

  • Ashley

    If church Y down the road from my church, known as church X, was receiving an influx of my congregants/parishioners over the course of time I would be asking questions. However, I would immediately wonder where Jesus was in all of it. I would pray and search the depths of my heart. In a post-Christian world now, people want an authentic encounter with the presence of God which is appointed by the Holy Spirit. They want to hear about the wonders of our Creator. They want to dive into the mystery of God, and they want to feel the weight of Jesus’ love through song as He is lifted up as the sole object in the world worth worshipping, through teaching/homilies, and through friendship. I would also search out some of the people who left, buy them a coffee, and ask them (if I could truly be genuine and humble and teachable) what did we miss at church X? Answers may surprise.

  • Karen

    Don’t act embarrassed about being Catholic–be enthusiastic! I left for a good while for a megachurch partly because even Catholics seemed to be determined to put down the Church

  • Silver Parnell

    Another idea: simplify the annulment process and make it less expensive. Many divorced Catholics leave the church to marry again.

  • Rae Marie

    //Even if a person has never heard the word “transubstantiation” they should something like this: “Wow, this Catholic service is entirely different. Something profound is happening here. I want to learn more.”//

    - This is what made me want to become Catholic when I attended a Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) in Peoria. At the time I was a non-practicing Evangelical Protestant. The reverence and chants had a profound impact on me. Catholics are sitting on a mound of treasure, they need to realize it and bring it out and use it.

  • Nessy

    Number 11: Have multi-age groups for single adults, the most neglected part of the Church.

  • Jake

    Actually teach that the Catholic Church has infallible ecumenical councils and was the only one founded by Jesus Christ.

  • Brian Murray

    At St. Joan of Arc (Yorktown, VA) we have Christ Renews His Parish. What a great way for Christian Men and Women to allow Christ to act through them to strenghten the parish community.

  • Thinkingirl

    If the People you are concerned about leaving a Catholic church are true Christians– May I first establish what that means to me. I believe a true Christian is not about someone who simply chose a particular “religion” or “denomination” (not saying religion = my denomination) because it just appealed to them, or because it seemed reasonable. Rather, Christians, they come to know their Creator by Revelation! They come to know Jesus personally as who He actually is: the only begotten Son of God and Savior of the world! Revelation is also required to see yourself as you truly are in God’s eyes! Hearing the Word of God, or Reading the Bible often times brings on Revelation! When God’s Spirit brings conviction and certainty about His truth, hopefully we can respond with true FAITH! Matthew 16:15-17 gives a powerful example: Jesus said to His disciples, “But what about you?” “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in Heaven. Peter’s answer was revealed by God Himself! Now, Revelation alone will not make someone a true Christian. Many people receive Revelation’s from God, but decide not to accept them…they simply refuse to repent/turn-away from their sins, and believe. Having said that, nobody can judge a person’s heart but Jesus Himself…so when I use the term true Christians, it is to refer to those that call themselves Christians. A true Christian’s belief’s are based on The Holy Bible, as written by The Living God! And, by praying for Revelation while reading the Holy Bible be it alone, in small groups,or big groups, can only help us to learn. Worshiping with a vibrant heart–singing, dancing, smiling, and outwardly showing the praise, love and joy you have for God The Father is a beautiful example of the happiness and peace that passes understanding that many Christian want to share with this sad, sad world–Always giving Glory to God! Having said that, reverance, respecting traditions, and singing timeless hyms, sharing The Word of God in so many ways are wonderful! God did not make us all allike, and the Church is not the building. Christians belonging in this church or that church serving the God of All Creation, why is that is a negative thing? People need to go where Jesus leads them…..staying in His will, that is where the blessing are! The size of a church is a not bad.thing unless The Lord’s work is not being done…..He will not bless such a church!.

    • http://codephined.com Daniel Brooks

      You are right: the Church is not a building. It is a universal, visible Church that stretches across the planet, called Catholic, katholikos, by Ignatius of Antioch in 110AD, who was a disciple of St. John the Beloved and ordained Bishop by St. Peter himself.

      (Matthew 5:14) You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.

      By your explanation here, you are saying that if “Jesus leads” someone into, let’s say, the sodomite-supporting United Methodists, that is entirely alright?

      I am willing to admit that God can use schismatic, heretical Protestant ecclesiastical communities (thanks Papa Benedict) as a stepping stone toward the fullness of truth–which is only found in the Catholic Church. Would God lead someone to a half-truth as a final destination? Isn’t a half-truth a lie?

      Let’s examine the question if God has blessed the Protestants for their rebellion (1 Samuel 15:23; rebellion is likened to the sin of witchcraft).

      There has been a little over 25,000 weeks since the “Reformation,” Oct. 31st 1517. World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford Univ. Press, 2001; compiled by protestants) counts more than 33,000 denominations. That means there has been more than one new religion every week ever since Luther.

      (1 Corinthians 1:10) Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.

  • thinkingirl

    I will not post again, but felt a need to speak on this matter. The Mega-Churches are full of loving Christain people! GOD’S PEOPLE! Why would you even SUGGEST SUCH A MEAN SPIRITED THOUGHT AS TO ENCOURAGE Catholic People TO TRY AND COME UP WITH A SLOGAN STATING “THE 10 WAYS TO PUT MEGA- CHURCHES OUT OF BUSINESS?” First I thought surley you jest! These people are your brother’s and sister’s in Christ! They are serving and worshiping God and sharing the Gospel in a wonderful and meaningful way! The Lord God has been changing lives in a big way with Mega-Churches! Yes they are very,very popular, and that is not a bad thing! God appears to have blessed many of them greatly! It does appear that you are offended because so many Catholic Christians are drawn to this incredibly welcoming, joyous, vibrant, contemporary style of Praise & Worship! So you suggest doing somethings just like they do to improve your attendance….interesting as that is, Mega- Churches are not cookie cutters just like Catholic Churches are not exactly alike! All Christian Churches should be “preaching” & “teaching” the Word of God from The Holy Bible! No Church is perfect, and Mega -Churches have flaws, just as the Catholic Church is also flawed. Christians should not tear each other down, nor attack each others Churches with any thoughts to try and “shut-down” a house of worship with hopes of preventing Christians from the Catholic Church from attending such a house of worship! Why not rejoice when souls are saved and encourage & support one another according to Our Heavenly Father’s will! Praying and Seeking His guidance to function as a much more effective “BODY”! This is how I believe brothers and sister’s in Christ should behave! There is plenty of struggle in this world, and the non-believers have their eyes on us Christians! They watch how we live, how we interact amongst our fellow Christians, and if we are making ugly statements about a Christian Denomination that is not our own, how do you think non-believers see Christians…..well, without going too far down that path, we truly should focus on sharing Christ’s love to reach the numerous lost souls, and minister to those in need, while continually seeking His will for the greater good of ALL! Glory to God The Father, and may he bless you as you review my thoughts on this matter.

    • http://codephined.com Daniel Brooks

      I can think of a few reasons.
      They are not churches.
      They teach a false doctrine. It’s as simple as that.
      We cannot be afraid to call heresy by it’s true name, heresy.

      Mega-churches propagate a religion of anthropocentric entertainment… I should know, I grew up a Pentecostal pastor’s son. It’s a lot of high-energy emotionally-charged religion of self… do you feeeeeel the Holy Spirit, how does that sermon make you feeeeel. Truth and doctrine is not based on how you feel about it.
      I think you get my point.

  • BmariaB

    Great guidelines and much needed in our Church today. However, before many of the ‘old’ timers can be advisors to the younger generation (at least in our parish), they need some retraining in the Faith. One elderly man actually made rude remarks about a young teen who always dresses modestly, saying she needed to ‘loosen’ up because she looks like she does nothing but go to church and read the Bible. My teen son has been asked by older ladies (who should know better) when was he going to get a girlfriend ‘wink, wink’ and have some fun ‘wink, wink’.
    Love the idea of bringing back the dignity of the Mass and teaching the hoards of EM’s to respect what they are doing and not think of themselves as a ‘catering’ service.

    • croixmom

      Or better: get rid of the EMHC’s and restore respect for the Blessed Sacrament to be ONLY handled by hands that have been consecrated.

  • Renato S

    And preach on the “taboo” subject matter like abortion, contraception, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc. Remind us Catholics that we also need to evangelize, using words if necessary.

  • Iva

    Dr. Marshall- thanks for all these truths. I would like to add something here. The two most important things are to know God and take Him seriously and to know the neighbor. I explain about the neighbor first. I am an immigrant from Slovakia. I have been here for 20 years and no one from Church ever reached to me to know me. I also married man that suffers from serious mental illness and plainly said we are poor with our 4 children. So in our family Christ is a stranger, hungry, sick, abandoned. I made attempts to be part of the church family, but Christians are scared of mental illness and poverty. They are indifferent and do not take seriously God’s word. That is my point- these things go together. Can we say I love God and obey Him, when next person in pew is unknown to me and I do not care at all? Our local church needs personal connection- not just some little closed groups , that are cold to others. Understand please, I love my Church. I lived through persecution from communists and I am in love with my Savior. He wants us to be one,, connected in His love. His will is that- not indifference, not blindness, coldness, but love, kindness, support and service. Local church needs to wake up, get salty as you said it correctly. My last point is this- I have a great relationship with church in heaven- all saints are my closest friends and teachers and than I have many “media saints friends” – you are one of them/ I know you did not know about it, because you are the newest one/- like pope Francis , Benedict,, John Paul II, Dr.Scott Hahn, Dr. James Keating, ,Jeff Cavins, Ralph Martin,Robert Barron,Anselm Grun,, Jacques Phillippe, and many others. I am very thankful for this connection, it gives me life.But I have a practical need for relationships with alive people in my town – as every one else does,specially, when I have no relatives on this continent. Jesus said it to His Church- to go- so it needs to be done according His command- because I am not the only one- there are masses of poor, hungry, strangers, mentally ill that are waiting neglected and forgotten to be loved by Church. Thank you for your great loving service and God bless you.

  • Josephine Bridge

    Deepen the knowledge of the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Confirmation and Sacrament of Eucharist…that which applies mostly to adults in their day to day living…none of this will seem effective without at least the reading of the Word of God on a daily basis…for this alone can reveal the precious jewel of the Sacraments bestowed upon us and reveal the One who so lavishly has poured out the needed grace to live a holy life…one cannot see God unless one is holy, for God is holy. Once holiness is established, thecommunication between God and us becomes a dialog and no longer a monolog.

  • andia

    Everything should not revolve around families. We are loosing an entire generation because people are marrying later – or not at all- but there is no ministry for them. They are expected to contribute but not receive any ministry. No better way to make folks unwelcome than to say “do the work, but don’t expect to be ministered too.” ( or to have social groups, athletic leagues, or any other place but the grunt work).
    Oh and most churches make announcements that visitors are welcome and then do everything they can to prove otherwise. I name about 40 parishes in my diocese that have lost any hope of attracting myself and the friends I bring with me as I search for a church ( my home parish closed due to diocesan downsizing) to join, just because we were plainly not welcome – little things like breaking up a group because someone else needed a seat “more” , even after we asked where we could sit upon arrival, or refusing to allow me to sit with my handicapped aunt or refusing to pass the peace with us because we were a bunch of college kids and there for “dangerous” – said out loud by a parent to their spouse, and more. People should not be shunned in God’s house – if you say “Welcome Visitors” or sing “All Are Welcome in this Place” – then don’t go out of your way to prove otherwise.

  • Ludwig

    Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and priests sitting in the confessionals at least 1 hour every day, come what may. The 7/11 recipe for spiritual renewal, the genuine aggiornamento. And yes, get rid of German theologians: what a pest

  • andia

    I vehemently disagree that we don’t need Priests for Bible study…to many Lay persons put their own “spin” on things. Priests stay with what the Church teaches us about scriptural interprestation. The other thing we need is an outreach of some sort for single adults over traditional college age. More and more people are not getting married til later, so having a place for them to go and connect, serve and be served would be a great thing. Every Pastor I have approached about this tells me some variations “we are there to support families, not singles” intersting line of thought from people who are celebate.

  • Uxi

    Great article.

    I would like to see the Minor Orders restored and filled with Catholic men who are currently laity.

    Get the laity out of the sanctuary. It ultimately diminishes reverence in the Real Presence. More deacons, but also encourage and/or force the bishops to institute Acolytes to administer the Blessed Sacrament.

    Along with renaming RCIA (call it what it was, the Catechumenate, and those in it are Catechumens) get rid of the equally bureaucratic sounding “Candidacy for Holy Orders” and restore the Minor Orders, especially the Subdiaconate to slot not only for deacons in formation, but perhaps before sending young men to seminary. Replace altar servers with Acolytes, ushers with Porters and lay Readers with Lectors. Pope Paul VI was right that the minor orders were an anachronism as stepping stones in seminary… We need them in the diocese & parishes more than ever.

    Lastly, the bishops of the United States should establish Chapters of Canons in their cathedrals. From a return to celebration of the Hours in choir to checks & balances in the administration of the diocese…