BUT THEY DON'T KNO-OW ANY BETTER
Well, normally I attend the Latin Mass, but I have to admit that I've been a bit run-down lately with the new school year starting, and various other runnings around - so, I decided not to do the 1.5 hour trek to the Latin Mass this morning and to attend our local church instead. Its a nice small rural community and the priest loves Our Lady. There are usually lots of families in Church with little kids and the choir reminds me of the choir in our parish where we grew up. Remember that part in Cinderella where the step-sisters are crooning "sing sweet nightingale"? That's pretty much what it sounds like.
Anyway, as we arrive, there's a crowd of people around the front door, obviously waiting for someone, but they don't look like they're dressed for church - especially since one is holding a Dunkin Donuts cup. Anyway, we enter, find our seats and kneel to prepare to Mass.
Well, the entourage finally enters, led by a pair of soon-to-be-baptized twin boys. Proudly in tow is the Dunkin Donuts toting, sweatpant suit wearing woman we saw outside. Horrified at seeing a Donkin Donuts cup in Church, I decide to go and ask this girl if she'd like me to throw it out for her. My sister tells me that I should probably ask Father first.
So, I did. Father was quite confused, and after asking a few questions, tells me that there are some mentally ill people in the parish, and we'll just let it go. Okay...
Then, the two children in front of us are playing with a pocket watch, and other toys while the mother looks on and occasionally smiles at them. Some people come in after the Offertory, but at least they're not toting Donkin Donuts...
Why this list of notably distracted and unprepared parishioners?
Well, it occurred to me that people act this way in Mass because NO ONE TOLD them that this isn't appropriate. We have a whole generation, namely mine, that were told that its okay to show up to Mass late and still receive; that Christ said "let the children come to Me" which means that children can play and cry and eat and color in Mass; that thinks its great to have your friends arrive at your children's baptism carrying their designer coffee; that formal dress isn't necessary for Mass and roll-out-of-bed styles are just as good.
My question is: WHO IS GOING TO TELL THEM????
You can't really blame them. They'd probably say "at least we're going to Church" and that is precisely the problem - it is the least they can do. The very least.
But Catholics, and Americans, have never been about the "least we can do" - we're about giving our best to God, Country, Family.
And its also occurred to me that this is precisely the source of the deep sigh that you sometimes see priests do, especially when they realize that yes, they are the ones who have to TELL THEM. And, since they haven't been doing it for so long, they have a lot of work to do.
God help our priests.