The Full Notion of Liturgy:
The more you look at the direction the Protestant churches have traveled over the last century, the more you see a trend toward a radical individualism. In recent history, this individualism has become so radical that a tipping point has been reached, and the faith held by many seems to be less focused on God, and more fixated on self. As the mainline Protestant churches have continued to hemorrhage members, churches that would have been thought of as “fringy” a couple decades ago, are quickly growing in numbers.
"The sacred Liturgy, then, constitutes the public worship which our Redeemer, the Head of the Church, has shown to the heavenly Father; and which the society of the faithful in Christ attribute to their Founder, and through Him to the eternal Father; and, to sum up briefly, it constitutes the public worship of the mystical body of Jesus Christ, namely, the Head and its members.
Therefore, they wander entirely away from the true and full notion and understanding of the Sacred Liturgy, who consider it only as an external part of divine worship, and presented to the senses; or as a kind of apparatus of ceremonial proprieties; and they no less err who think of it as a mere compendium of laws and precepts, by which the ecclesiastical Hierarchy bids the sacred rites to be arranged and ordered."
[From the same Encyclical, "Mediator Dei," November 20, 1947]
No one is going to admit that they are more concerned about their own interests than with God when it comes to worshiping Him, but it’s there - Protestant and Catholic alike. Believe me. Just think about how many times you’ve heard of someone who left or is going to leave a Parish or the Church because, “I didn’t feel welcome,” or “I don’t like how Father so-and-so does this-and-that,” or “I don’t like the building,” or “They should play this type of music because … I enjoy it,” … I'm sure you can think of a few more. Before anyone goes crazy, I’m the first to admit I’m not immune to this line of thinking.
Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with having greeters, or calling the Parish a “faith community”, or playing contemporary
As Catholics the focus of our primary, public, and communal form of worship, the Mass, is … God. When it comes to increasing attendance and keeping others by from leaving the Church by making them feel more "comfortable" and more "welcome", how careful do we have to be to not loose the idea of communal worship focused on God? While we attend Mass to get something (grace) out of it, we should also be attending Mass because God deserves and demands our worship. The more local Parishes try to make distinctions between themselves and neighboring Parishes, the more I feel we loose this.
I’ll throw out one quick example of this trend showing itself surfacing on a Parish level. Why would a Parish need a mission statement? All Parishes seem to have one, and they’re all different! Huh? Is there really someone out there looking over Parish mission statements trying to decide where they’ll become members?
So what if Catholics now are deciding on which Parish to attend based on list of criteria important to them? What’s the big deal? Maybe nothing. I found the following list on the website of a hip and modern preacher. The kind that most Catholics would find … well … disturbing and a little creepy. Read it over, and think about how much of it resembles what you hear Catholics talk about today.
(Just a note: The preacher (David Foster) was let go after he posted this list.)
16 things I’d look for in a Church
1. When I enter do I hear laughter?
2. Are people greeting me as a job or a joy?
3. Does the place look like they were expecting me?
4. Are people buzzing as they greet each other?
5. Is there spirited music playing as people gather?
6. Does the music move me?
7. Do the people on stage look real and engaged?
8. Are the announcements short, strategic, and to the point?
9. Is there a printed outline with Scripture already printed on it?
10. Does the pastor smile?
11. Does the message title promise a relevant topic I am interested in?
12. Does the pastor speak with humility and authority?
13. Do I feel the presence of God?
14. Are people listening and engaged?
15. Is the service no more than 71 minutes? Does it pass by fast?