All anecdotal evidence points to a resurgence in Mass attendance during these early days of the pontificate of Pope Francis.
People who have been swayed by media coverage against the Church are now being captured by the pro-Francis media slant. People who are genuinely interested in a Church of love, a Church that helps the poor–which we have always been–are beginning to believe that this is what we are, and are returning.
This is the news on the ground.
What should be our response? I have several suggestions:
- Increase the quality of music. Use the best music, the most Catholic forms, and dazzle them with brilliant execution.
- Increase the quality of preaching. If it’s been ok, turn it up. If it’s already great, make it a little more scriptural, a lot more attentive to the best sources, including Scriptures, the Fathers, and the Saints.
- Adult Education. This summer I’ve been giving Adult Ed classes at my parish. The best feedback I received from one of the young adults was make it harder. Classes have been very well-attended, and the more challenging, the more rich the content, the better received.
- Offer Fellowship outside of Mass. New people will need to meet old-time parish people. Make sure there are opportunities to do this. This is not expensive or rocket science. There are dozens of people in every parish able to do coffee and bagels. Ask them.
- Make a brochure that lists ways to get involved. People who are returning to the Sacraments because the Holy Father visited a favela are going to be willing to roll up their own sleeves. Make it easy for folks to find service opportunities.
Having walked past the hype and into Mass, people are going to be looking around. They will want to see that there is some there, there, some level of spirituality that they can aspire towards. Now is not the time to be falsely informal or undignified at Mass. Genuineness will be absolutely key. It’s time to give it all we’ve got, and as Catholics, what we have is the best of all possible worlds.
‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’