I would like to respond to Mr. Thomas P. Whelan’s letter to the editor from the Sept. 20 edition of The Colorado Catholic Herald titled, “To stop declining numbers, Catholic Church should focus on being more welcoming.” Instead, I would suggest that, to stop declining numbers, the Catholic Church should focus on truth.
Catholic parishes in the two archdioceses I come from were quite welcoming. “God is Love” and “What Would Jesus Do?” were the catechetical summit; I was welcome to make my First Holy Communion without a First Reconciliation. As an adult, I visited many parishes “with open doors.” If you didn’t immediately feel welcomed by the colorful signs or the line of smiling greeters in the lobby, you could depend on just about every single pew-sitter in your vicinity reaching over to shake your hand, thanking you in hushed tones for coming. If these failed, there were colorful banners announcing how welcomed you were. You could then sing along to feel-good songs written between the 1960s and 1990s about how wonderful you are and how “all are welcome in this place.” The priest’s movements were indeed expressive; homilies, never delivered from an ambo, were welcoming to the point of personally inviting anyone who might feel called to gather around the altar for the consecration. After Mass, as after any good performance, you were welcome to applaud before chatting with those nearby. By human standards, I fail to see how they could have been more welcoming! And yet, all of these “vibrant” and emotive external displays, even with a lack of advertised pilgrimages, did absolutely nothing to lead me to believe that the white circle briefly held aloft was anything more than a wafer.
I am a Catholic today not because of a “living vibrant church” nor “a church of all the people and for the people.” By God’s mercy and grace, I am a practicing Catholic because Holy Mother Church proclaims truth, and years ago I first heard that truth preached by a faithful, orthodox priest. I am a Catholic not because of, but despite, “local traditions that enhanced the celebration of the Mass.” In my opinion, the Mass is in no need of local enhancement! I don’t go to Mass hoping to hear homilies about immigration, “hate issues,” or killings. I go to Mass to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, and I thirst for homilies about holiness, truth, and salvation.
I am inspired by priests who are daily living out their vocations with authenticity. When my pastor decides I need to hear a homily about “the moral crises” mentioned in Mr. Whelan’s letter, I thank the Good Lord that he does so without diluting eternal truths about life or marriage. His homilies remind me just how dangerous appropriating the current cultural and political trends demanding so-called inclusiveness would be to my eternal soul, and I thank you for the reminder of how fortunate I am to have a pastor preaching the truth.
Holy Trinity Parish