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How to set a church on fire February 21, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.

No, I’m not talking about me finally losing my mind because of all the new agers that get propped up as ‘wonderful, faithful Catholics’ in this diocese – via Steve K, I’m talking about how to get the Holy Spirit really active in a parish and potentially totally change its direction.   I’m talking about Adoration.

ACUSHNET — A little church in a small town, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church was facing tough times. The congregation was dwindling, and Mass attendance was at an all-time low. The empty confessional was collecting dust, and donations were dismal.

But then the unthinkable happened.

Today, St. Francis Xavier is one of the most vibrant parishes in the diocese with standing-room only Masses, confessional lines, a busload of parishioners participating in the March for Life, and an abundance of freewill donations that will make them debt-free by April.

“Jesus is on the property,” said Mary Cardoza, the spark that inflamed the parish. “We are a church on fire.”

Traditional expressions of piety almost always bring very tangible benefits to a parish – increased reception of the Sacraments, increased involvement in parish life, increased vocations, and increased donations.  While such expressions may not be popular in every quarter, they are proven to be a way for many troubled parishes to improve their fortunes in every sense of the world.  I pray this practice becomes far more widespread – there is no reason that a parish with “40,000 members” cannot support perpetual Adoration.  Even more, we should consider forming groups to keep Jesus company even when reserved in the Tabernacle – Blessed Louis Martin and Isidore Guerin did so in Lisieux, often volunteering to take the difficult, middle of the night shifts.  Such was their love for the Blessed Sacrament.  I pray such a fire becomes widespread in the Church again!


1. Teresa - February 21, 2011

Wonderful news!

2. thewhitelilyblog - February 21, 2011

I hate to rain on the parade, but since it’s thunder snowing here in Chicago, why not! I know it seems just too obvious that adoration has to be all good, all the time, but sorry, not. Dioceses with no leadership and parishes with no leadership or charasmatic leadership or whatever perverse direction in the big loose ecumenical world of today can misuse adoration the same way they can misuse everything else Catholic in the absence of good doctrine and good administration based thereupon.

I went to Eucharistic Adoration in Puerto Vallarta when I lived there. I went to the last couple of hours before dawn. This was also the time reserved for the parish’s large charasmatic group, of which the pastor was an enthusiastic supporter. What they were doing was not only not a help to the Church, it was a scandal. There is no need to discuss what I saw. The pastor, who might have been some restraining influence, wasn’t there. The church was dark inside, but filled with people. Some were on the floor in couples in the sanctuary. Puerto Vallarta is not inaccessible nor uneducated. Think what could happen in more remote and more purely animistic areas? And don’t think of restricting what is being classified as a ‘fix’ for what ails a parish–who’d have it these days? (You’re gonna ask what I did about it, after that in PV, but it was my first year in Mexico and my Spanish was so ridiculous and since the pastor was their supporter, who else could I ask where to go for discipline? And I had no pictures.)

There are no guidelines for what happens at eucharistic adorations. Well, there may be, but the idea of adhering to any guideline is certainly missing. I went to a First Friday adoration in the very heart of Chicago, a block from the first loop stop, lovely Italianate little church, to the last hour before reposition of the Sacrament. There were no candles. The monstrance was in the dark at a side altar. There was one lady there, and a homeless guy asleep in the back. There was no singing at the reposition, absolutely none, of any kind, even cheap and hateful, nor prayer. The priest just came out (he did have on the proper vestiture), took the monstrance, turned and blessed us, and put it back. No bells, certainly. No incense, certainly. He himself didn’t double genulect. In fact, come
to think, he didn’t genuflect at all. I thought of whistling tantum ergo, but, well . . .

Look, don’t you think, on reflection, that any fix that skips the overall problem will possibly be open to misuse? And now we’ve got Our Lord out of the tabernacle. I was so distressed in Puerto Vallarta that I thought I’d faint.

tantamergo - February 21, 2011

I’m actually not going to ask about anything, but I’m going to say that abuse is always possible, in any Sacrament or sacramental, but that possiblity does not deny the good that can come when it is properly performed. In my experience, the priests of this Diocese will not do everything right, but they’ll do a reasonable job. If we see an abuse, it is up to us then to respond to it, but not to deny the efficacy of the sacramental outright simply because it’s a parish that celebrates Novus Ordo and could grow alot in terms of adherence to the Faith. Unfortunately, after a general collapse, it takes time (and steps!) to bring things back up. It’s happened before.

3. Chris Baker - February 21, 2011

That little parish in Acushnet, MA shows us what can be done. They have two to three Sunday Masses (depends on the season) and daily Masses everyday during the week except Thursday. When I think of the seven Sunday Masses and the several daily Masses during the week in my parish and still no Perpetual Adoration, I wonder if more could be done. I know that traditional expressions of Roman Catholic culture are generally eschewed in my parish, but I’ve seen traditional practices here (like corporate rosaries on Marian feast days) that have had standing room only in the sanctuary.

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