I saw your letter a few weeks ago. I wasn’t exactly planning on responding to it, but it’s been sitting in the back of my mind ever since and this feels like something that I should write back to.
The reason why I wasn’t planning on responding is that I don’t exactly see what the problem is. I don’t want to say that in a dismissive way – I am not in your shoes, in your parish. I am sure that the culture surrounding the church is different than what you have grown in. I do not see all the things that the priest is or isn’t doing. So please, do not think that I am trying to minimize your feelings.
You can go to a church anywhere in the world and experience the same mass in community.
The word “Catholic” means universal. Its one of the things I love most about our faith. You can go to a church anywhere in the world and experience the same mass in community. Now, that community is very important. We are a part of the body of Christ – one body, universal, one in love and one in community. I can imagine that that becomes even more important in places where Catholics are a minority, such as this bible belt region you are speaking of. So gathering together to, say, sing Happy Birthday and celebrate life as a community… I think that’s a joyful, wonderful thing. The parish in my parents hometown, the one I grew up in – we would sing Happy Birthdays. We would also have people come up for blessings depending on the occasion – students for the beginning of school, couples celebrating anniversaries, and others – and we would bless them as a community. I thought it was awesome as a teenager – I was participating in sharing the bounty of God’s Grace with others.