There are all sorts of obvious conclusions one could and should draw from the need of many dioceses in the West to consolidate parishes. There are fewer people, as we have contracepted them and aborted them out of existence. There are fewer Catholics, as the Faith whole and entire is rarely taught or reinforced in any meaningful way in most parishes. There are fewer Mass-goers and Sacrament-recipients, as the liturgical devastation has left behind an anemic, ambiguous, minimally-Catholic husk that does not nourish or motivate. And even that husk is rarely celebrated according to the norms. Any Catholic may, publicly or privately, espouse and advance rank heresies that would have made them exceed room temperature by an exponential amount in better times. And for the last two years people have been (first) prohibited from going to Mass, (then) excused from going to Mass, and (finally) conditioned habitually into missing Mass.
But that is not the point of my post.
I happened to read this story in the Post-Dispatch that included interviews with parishioners of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish. My wife and I were parishioners there for many years. This Southside Parish was a major mainstay in city Catholicism for its entire existence until recently. This very beautiful and large basilica-style Church can comfortably hold 800 people, and I have on many occasions seen it basically full. There used to be 5 weekend Masses there, and all were well-attended–and not in the long past, but even in the first decade of this century and entering the second. I can attest through personal knowledge that the parish school as late as 2010 or 2011 had more than 500 students. Then came a sudden frost, a quick decline to 200ish students, then an ill-conceived consolidation with another school, an attempt to revive the school with fewer than 100 students, then consolidation with other schools at a different location. In practical terms, the school closed.
I write this post while being blessed to be in a vibrant Catholic church with more than a thousand people assisting at Sunday Masses, Masses that are holy, nourishing, and beautiful. Baptisms far outpace funerals. Young people. Old people. Middle-aged people. Lots of big, Catholic families. And Sorrows is at this stage so quickly? I feel for these people; no amount of after-the-fact analysis should make us lose sight of the fact that these are children of God who have been deprived of the vibrant Catholic Faith they should have, and have had. Yes, we all suffer from our own miscues often enough. But man, this is the Rome of the West, and Sorrows gets 25 people at one of their two Sunday Masses? That is tragic. We should weep.
From the article:
‘On Sunday, at Our Lady of Sorrows in south St. Louis, 25 people gathered between enormous Corinthian columns for the 8 a.m. Mass. The Rev. Sebastian Mundackal, originally from India, told them that he, too, had concerns about the changes ahead.
‘“Of course, like you, I have my own worries, my own concerns, but let’s be open to the Holy Spirit,” he said, encouraging parishioners to be part of the restructuring process by filling out an upcoming survey of their concerns.
‘On the way out after Mass, Donna Katke, 70, said she saw the good in the effort, officially touted as “All Things New.”
‘“We have to change and evolve to meet the needs of the people in this world,” said Katke, a retired teacher in the St. Louis Public Schools. “We have to do things better. It’s long overdue. They don’t have a choice.”
‘The smaller number of Catholic baptisms hits close to home for Katke. Only the oldest of her three grown children is a practicing Catholic. Her middle child is a nonbeliever. The third, even if she had children, says she wouldn’t raise them in the church because of the clergy sex abuse scandal.
‘“I don’t have the words to fight that,” said Katke, eyes welling with tears.
‘As for Katke, though, she said: “I am in it for the duration.”’
You can decide for yourself what motivates Traditiones Custodes.