“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)
A week ago, on Easter Sunday morning, at Mass in my parish church, the MOST important Mass in the entire liturgical year, I had an epiphany.
Now, to be clear, my understanding of “epiphany” is: “derived from the Greek word epiphaneia, epiphany means “appearance,” or “manifestation.”
In literary terms, an epiphany is that moment in the story where a character achieves realization, awareness, or a feeling of knowledge, after which events are seen through the prism of this new light in the story”.
My epiphany was a sudden clarity of perception at the point when the Mass was ended and priest blessed the congregation and instructed them “Go forth the Mass is ended”. And the congregation responded “Thanks be to God”.
This would “normally” be the moment when many parishioners would kneel and pray for a while thanking God for all His blessings and benefits, and for once again coming into our lives personally.
Even more people, perhaps the majority of those present, would file out onto the steps of the church to discuss how things were going in their lives and shake hands with the priest, and generally turn things into a social occasion for chatting after Mass with people who had not been seen for a week and so on and so forth. That would be pretty normal and has been the scene after Mass in the Catholic church in Canada since I was a kid.
What actually happened, what I really noticed this time around, is that the church suddenly turned into a loud sports bar with people turning to their neighbour and shaking hands and just in the space of a breath the quiet of the Mass was completely wiped out by loud boisterous voices yelling and talking and shouting over each other and over the Recessional music which is reasonably supposed to hint at an orderly and respectful egress from our Lord’s Presence and from the place of worship.
I noticed it this time probably because I was in the midst of the shouters instead of actually singing the recessional from the ambo as cantor. The parishioners didn’t even try to leave the pews and meet outside on the church steps .. they just couldn’t wait to share their “Good News”.
Everyone turned their back on the Lord in His tabernacle and ignored and profaned the most important and revered person in the universe to get on with their social gathering.
And this continued for the better part of half an hour. Everyone ignored our Lord, real and present in His tabernacle behind the alter before gradually winding down and moving on to a better venue, perhaps with beer and wings or wherever – the grocery store, Sunday dinner, whatever.
And the epiphany was that I realized that my fellow parishioners were/are not actually Catholic. These parishioners (rather obviously) do not believe in the real presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
And the more I thought about it the more I saw the truth of it. Almost no one believes in the real presence, no one believes in confession, no one believes in the importance of reverence in liturgy, no one believes in the traditions which have kept the faith alive for more than 2000 years. Our parishes have become nothing more than “Social Clubs”, much like all the Protestant parishes around us.
This is the norm in most Protestant sects, now so noticeably fragmenting and in decline across our land, but this is the first time that it hit me like a hammer blow to the heart that our nominally Roman Catholic congregations seem to share this lack of faith … they are, really, no longer “Catholic” in the most important matter of faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist … no longer Catholic.
Here in the early years of the 21st century the Catholic Church here in my normal modern parish is dead. This parish, perhaps this Archdiocese, perhaps the entire Canadian Catholic Church, is no longer “Catholic” by any traditional definition of “Catholic”.
So what is Joe supposed to do now? I don’t really know … I am at a loss and the ideas are not coming freely at this point. So let me tell a short story about Joe. Well, as gentle reader no doubt knows, this blog is Joe’s blog, so it is no surprise that a story about Joe comes up.
I will continue this in my next post, perhaps … I need to pray and think on this and perhaps consult other more level heads as to what is appropriate to discuss and what is not.
More to follow as and when I feel moved …
… the dream time …