By Cajetan Didam Isah
The summary of the “beauty” of The Catholic Church is found in the final lines of the Apostle creed…The Catholic church is ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC…
This then is the reason why the Catholic church has weathered and survived every trial(s) and tribulations that confronted it.
This is also the reason why the Catholic Church is also the most ORGANIZED HUMAN STRUCTURE in the world. In her ONENESS IS THE SOLIDARITY that gives us strength. In her CATHOLICITY is the universality that makes the uniformity awesome. In Her HOLINESS is the sanctity she bears from God and in her APOSTOLICITY is her rich roots in ORAL AND SACRED TRADITION. Little wonder then why Jesus Christ handed the keys over to Peter and assured him that “the gates of hell WILL never triumph over her”.
The responsibility then of keeping this beautiful gift now falls on not just the spiritual leaders of the church but on all of us who bear the identity CATHOLIC. But every time I go for mass I ask myself is this the same Catholic Church I have always known as a child…? Certainly yes, the church has remained Catholic by identity but internally I think we all have collectively failed in certain responsibilities.
While we can’t deny the reality and truth of influences in the church both from the pastors and laity. I will want to focus on some simple and basic things we ignore that have continued to constantly bother me…
THE EUCHARIST (THE HOLY MASS)
My focus this morning is on the celebration of the Holy mass and the attitudes I have seen in church. I wonder how many Catholics understand what the Holy Eucharist is all about. And I often wonder if they understand the gift God has bestowed on us in the sacrifice of the Holy mass.
As a young seminarian let me share an experience I had in a parish in Kaduna in the year 2002. I and the parish priest were standing within the church premises on Saturday evening when a certain young man walked in and asked if he could see the parish priest (Fr); since none of us was on cassock. Fr asked him why he needed to see the parish priest? Then he opened his bag and brought out unconsecrated host and said he wanted Fr to bless it for him to distribute on Sunday in his church since it was going to be communion Sunday. Fr then asked him ‘ but why won’t you bless it yourself since you are a ” man of God” and he smiled rather cheekily and replied … We know the truth ‘ you Catholic Rev fathers have that power and not us’… This left a big impression on me for over ten years now. But when I see how catholics behave during mass I wonder if they see this beauty we have.
I am not God and I am not here to judge anyone but I am here to provoke our thoughts and challenge us to look deep and see where we are failing. This morning at mass, a young lady sat next to me and even during consecration she was chatting on phone and apparently you could see she wasn’t interested in what was going on. Tomorrow we say ‘ there is no life in the Catholic church. How can the Catholic church give you life when you are already dead spiritually?
Over 80% of parishioners at mass won’t kneel or stand for obvious reasons .We are tired or don’t want to dirty our clothes. The same people who will lie on the floor to greet kings and Queen’s for favors but will not bow or kneel to worship God.
A lot of young people do not go for communion and obviously the reason is they are not always in a state of grace or some dont understand what it is all about and the benefits. And most this young people come to church with their parents who watch them every Sunday not go for Holy Communion and will not ask them why?
THE WAY FORWARD
The youths are the future of the church and for them to take over this responsibility I think a lot of education needs to be done. The second Vatican document encourages ACTIVE, CONSCIOUS , PARTICIPATION at all liturgical celebrations . But I think over time a lot of emphasis has been placed on the physical aspect of the church than the spiritual. In as much as it’s important to build and live in magnificent structures that are conducive for worship it is even more important and pertinent to focus on the body of Christ i.e the people of God. Building them spiritually is the best gift any pastor can give his community.
Parents must also make time to do their own part in this by checking their children and from time to time share the faith. I so love my faith and trust me I won’t trade my Catholic faith for all the gold in the world.
When next you are in church and you see someone trying to distort the beauty of our faith especially at mass politely remind them and bless them .
*Isah wrote in from Kaduna