As a Catholic priest I sometimes wonder why...

As a Catholic priest, I sometimes wonder why so few people go to Church on Sundays and then I wonder why so many other Catholics are going to Protestant Evangelical Church.
Once I asked a leader of the Assembly of God for the Spanish speaking in Southern California just why so many Catholics were joining his denomination. In a very polite and quick way he responded.

He said that he experienced four reasons why people come over:

1. Our churches have leaders who arise out of the community.

2. The people feel that this is their community and church.

3. We offer a freedom to be able to express emotions during our services.

4. We offer an easy access to Jesus.

Interesting. Looking at those points from a Catholic perspective I can see why people might not want to join the Church.

1. With our shortage of vocation, leaders are not always arising out of the community where they serve. Many priests from over seas are serving in our parishes. I, for example, a gringo say the Spanish Mass at a local parish on Sundays.

2. Often the Spanish Mass or the Vietnamese Mass in a parish is relegated to an unpopular afternoon time on Sundays. Often minorities are considered intruders rather than part of the parish.

3. There is much to be said for the ritual and formalism and the tradition of the Catholic Church. But this can often hinder the excitement that comes from spontaneous expression of the voice or body. Without that freedom, things can be inhibited.

4. If you want to become a member of the Catholic Church you ordinarily have to join the R.C.I.A. This rite of initiation can last for over a year. This is good to be well founded in the faith. Still the impression can be discouraging. I can't help feeling that we need a better balance with the possibility of being spontaneous and the need the start with formal programs.

I think that we should be open to listening to the success of other who love the Lord in order to bring our love of the Lord to more and more people.

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