Question from Tom on 4/14/2008:
Why have most of the Catholic churches all across the U.S. for the past 35 years or so been allowed to water down the faith and traditions by removing the tabernacle completely from the main body of the church or moving it way off to the side putting the priest and the choir as the main focus, taking the statues and relics out and replacing them with modern art that try to simulate someones personal interpretation of Jesus or Mary, removing the holy water fonts, the Communion rail, all kneelers, stations of the cross and special devotion areas and candles? Novenas and eucharistic adoration are unheard of or they don't do that sort of thing anymore.
In some homilies the priests that we have heard have put down passages in the Bible, such as the parting of the sea as a natural occurrence, the multiplication of the loaves as nice people brought food along and shared with "sharing" being the theme of this passage. When we want to go to confession, times to go are usually very limited or a half-hour limit to the whole congregation -- which in these churches very few go anyhow, or limited to confession by appointment only ... I guess most Catholics just don't sin anymore.
Priests have celebrated Mass with continual music -- with ad-lib through the whole Mass -- I guess to appeal to everyones emotions and also have so-called liturgical dancers? We have had to coax extraordinary Eucharistic ministers to give us Communion on the tongue and glared at as an outsider by them and other parishioners as they all received Communion in the hand. I could go on and on, but how could these and other abuses continue to take place especially when the bishops are supposed to oversee his flock? I have seen and experienced all this firsthand as we have moved around a lot and know a few bishops who know what is going on and has even participated with these abuses and dancers, etc.
Has all this come about to form another Protestant religion? Have the American bishops consorted to break away from Rome? Has it come about to water down the faith and tradition to make it more comfortable for the converts or make it Protestant-friendly? The strongest faith of people of different times is because we stuck with our Catholic faith and traditions and did not back down from them. Or ... is this the result of universal relativism that has spread so fast lately?
Answer by Catholic Answers on 4/14/2008:
Any number of faithful Catholics in the United States have experienced their fair share of the problems that you have recounted. It is indeed hard to look past such difficulties and maintain the Christian hope to which our Holy Father has called us. Sometimes the problems are like a deep, dark forest and it is hard to see the sun through the shade.
But hope we must have. We must keep in mind that the sun is there and is responsible for the light we do have, and that eventually the trees will thin and we'll walk into daylight. But only if we keep walking on, with faith, hope, and love. If we get bogged down in counting the trees and in speculating on why they're blocking the path, we'll never clear the forest.
Ordinarily, I don't give my answers in extended metaphors, but I think it is important to encourage you and others who agree with you to put the frustrations orthodox Catholics have with the Church in the U.S. into their proper perspective. Orthodox Catholics must be known by their joy in their faith and not by their crabbiness, however justifiable, or they run the risk of diminishing the attractiveness of orthodox Catholicism. I recommend the articles below for more information.
Problems in the Church by Jimmy Akin
A Crisis of Saints by Fr. Roger Landry
The Church Militant or the Church Belligerent? by Fr. Paul Scalia