New fads in our churches
Ladislaus L. D'Souza has rightly pointed out (in The Secular Citizen) that "Mother's Day" and "Father's Day" are essentially an American invention, a part of American culture, a new fad, and that this could be a dangerous trend in our churches, even though it might appear to be a nice idea (Examiner, July 25). This observation ought to set us thinking: Why do the latest fashions in America so easily find their way into our churches, prayer-meetings and even our Eucharistic celebrations? How is it that, if they are so meaningful and popular, they do not make their appearance in the places of worship of other religions around us? Don't they reinforce among our non-Christian brethren the impression that Christianity is a foreign religion? Besides, what atmosphere or mood do they create in our churches? Which greeting puts us in a better mood for worship: "Good Morning" or "The Lord be with you"? Why is it, as was reported recently, that a group of Catholic priests in England have decided not to use "Good Morning" before beginning Holy Mass? If we truly believe that the Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life" and "the very real presence of the Lord in our midst", how is the it, that unlike in the days gone by, we do not make adequate efforts to maintain an attitude of reverence, solemnity and decorum during our celebrations of the Eucharist, especially at weddings? Why do so many so-called worshippers stand outside our churches(even when there is ample place inside) during the Sunday Eucharist and even approach the altar to receive Holy Communion without batting an eyelid ? Often, one gets the impression that the Eucharist is more of a social gathering, a convenient status symbol, an excuse for a celebration or public meeting, the performance of a drama (complete with skits and slide-shows!)......... rather than an act of divine worship, of true prayer. We need to wake up to the urgent need to restore the "sense of the sacred", "of the mysterium tremendum", which according to the German philosopher, Rudolf Otto, is at the core of every religion and without which no religion can survive in the long run. Maybe it is the absence of an atmosphere in which one can experience God, or encounter Christ, the absence of a 'sense of awe and wonder' that the celebration of the divine mysteries once inspired, that has led to churches getting empty in many countries of Europe. It may also be that convenient fads and fashions soon tend to get commercialized even in places of worship driving away true worshippers. No wonder Jesus himself once angrily complained, "My house shall be called a house of prayer , but............."
Joseph M. Dias,S.J.