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You've probably heard the horrible research showing that the vast majority of Catholics do not practice the Faith. Half have actually apostatized and left the Church. Another third, phone it in, showing up once or twice a year or when someone is married or buried. All told, roughly 80 percent of U.S. Catholics have little or no connection to the Church any longer. But what about the remaining roughly 20 percent — those who actually do go to Mass still — even though their adult children don't or their younger, still-at-home children won't in the future?
What about this Catholic minority within the Catholic minority? For the most part, you can call them the 50-minute Catholics, meaning, their connection to the Church is for Sunday Mass, and that's it — show up for less than hour, sit there bored or distracted or somewhat involved, go up to Holy Communion and leave. This isn't a lack of zeal. It's a lack of any interest whatsoever in what's going on or even what they, themselves, are doing. They are there because of habit or a sense of heritage or a hundred other reasons but not because of the glory of the Faith.
They are the very definition of lukewarm. They don't really care but just go through the motions. It's very much like a loveless marriage. Neither spouse wants to force any issue which might bring about the final disintegration because frankly, it's easier to stay where you are then live in the truth. It's like the old song says: "Breakin' up is hard to do." So the clergy don't challenge them on why they should really be there, and the lukewarm keep tossing a $10 or a $20 into the basket and everything's good. Except everything is not good — far from it.
One pastor, I was talking to a few years back about this very issue popped off with the well-rehearsed line — they must teach it in seminary — "Well, at least they're coming." So what? Coming to what? A service where they are never spoken to about eternal life — be it salvation or damnation. Hardly ever preached to about confession, unless it's the once a year general absolution which is not allowed.
They aren't warned by the priest about receiving sacrilegious Holy Communion. No, the 50-minute Catholic walks in dressed in shopping mall attire, usually late or really close, scoots into a pew without genuflecting, sits there unengaged, hearing poor preaching, oftentimes about liberal political causes thinly disguised as Catholic teaching, pitch in their $10 bill, watches something going on at the altar as the priest smiles at them and overdramatized his role, say the Our Father holding hands — because that makes it meaningful — spends a few moments shooting the peace sign to anyone and everyone in the Church, goes up to get the bread and may or may not leave early. And of course, this is usually accompanied by some variation of Protestant music or horrible syrupy "Catholic" music, written by former priests who now live with their gay lovers somewhere. For a very large number of the few remaining Catholics who go to Mass, this is their entire exposure and connection to the Church. Fifty minutes a week, and that's quite enough, thank you very much. Wouldn't want to get branded a radical or anything.
Abuse-ridden liturgy, bad preaching — oftentimes riddled with dissent — and sacrilegious Holy Communion. Now, there's a winning blueprint for expanding the Faith. A noted Catholic author commented a couple weeks ago that Catholicism is broken. And the reason it's broken is because there is no longer a spirit of contradiction in the Church. Nothing wrong is ever confronted or contradicted because that would bring about the only mortal sin that the Church of Nice admits — giving offense. How did we arrive at this point? Because bishops allow it and sometimes encourage it.
Bishop school must have a motto over the gates which reads "Nolite Navem Agitare," Latin for "Don't Rock the Boat." Never challenge anyone and certainly never allow yourselves, the clergy, to be challenged even in the face of heresy, schism, violations of canon law, liturgical abuse, dissent — all of it.
This has transmitted down to the laity who now — having adopted the premise of don't rock the boat — sit there and don't rock the boat of their own spiritual lives. They do no inner reflection, no self-assessment, have no desire to learn anything about the Faith. And why should they? These same spineless leaders push the nonsense that everyone goes to Heaven, all religions are pretty much the same and the Church's moral teaching can be largely ignored.
Why do we have 50-minute Catholics? Because we have 50-minute clergy, more interested in the collection amount than the souls before them.