Friday, November 21, 2008

Liturgists discuss decline in Mass attendance

It's good liturgy that keeps people coming back.
--Rev. Alan Jurkus, September 12, 2007

Amy Guckeen reported in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, October 23, 2008.

It's a startling development not because declining Mass attendance is news. What's startling is liturgists discussing it. My efforts to raise the issue when on the St. Al's parish council in the 1990s went nowhere. I later learned this was because increased Mass attendance would violate parish policy against anything that might involve any significant amount of more work for the staff.

At any rate, the decline apparently has reached the point where even parish liturgists had to consider the possibility that their jobs were connected in some way to parishioners in the pews. [It's just an expression; most liturgists appear to be opposed to pews, as such, see E. A. Sovik, Architecture for Worship (1973) pp. 77-81.] The article cites responses to a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
From the survey of 1,007 self-identified Catholics, 20 percent attend Mass every week, 11 percent attend almost every week, 10 percent attend once or twice a month, and 3 percent attend more than once a week. Thirty two percent attend rarely or never.

That's a survey, not a census. If people shade their responses, I assume it would be toward saying they attend more often than they do. Why don't they attend?
Respondents to the CARA survey placed higher importance on feeling the presence of God at Mass and receiving the Eucharist as opposed to the homily, music and environment.

If you want to hear that such opinions are ridiculous, you might raise them at St. Al's.


Blogger GOR said...

"It's good liturgy that keeps people coming back"

Yes, the liturgy as 'entertainment'...! It's good catechesis that would have gotten them there in the first place. And orthodox preaching and adherence to the rubrics that would have kept them there.

The Mass is not a network sit-com that must be creative and innovative to keep people's attention - or get cut if the ratings decline. It is not a 'performance' dependent on liturgists and 'presiders' to make it relevant. It's not about us. It is about Him!

As the Holy Father pointed out almost ten years ago: "Less and less is God in the picture. More and more important is what is done by the human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a 'predetermined pattern'..."

J. Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy

12:12 AM  

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