I was reading a blog post by Shawn Tribe over at The New Liturgical Movement and I started reflecting on the Catholic family....here is what my thoughts are;
I think that by and large the Catholic family from the 1920s-1950s in
America got it, from a Catholic point of view. They had large families, they were devotional, they
went to Mass and they understood that giving a child to the Church, as
either a priest or religious (or sometimes both) was not only a duty,
I think that this is one of the great acts of
charity that a family can give. I also think that it could not have
happened if families during this time were not "liturgical" in their
daily lives. Families prayed together, went to Mass together and went
to devotions together. All of these things led to vocations.
encouraged things like altar boy corps for their sons and sodalities
for their daughters. Fathers were part of the Men's Club (which often
times were ushers) or KofC and mothers were part of the Legion of Mary
or the Altar and Rosary Society. The lives of Catholics revolved around
In my humble opinion (even though it may not
seem so), I think that this is what we need to be promoting for the
family. This idea of the liturgical life of the family extends way
beyond just praying Grace and going to Mass on Saturday night or Sunday morning. It also means adding a rosary weekly (or
daily) to the routine. It means adding the Angelus to mealtime prayers
(it's the easiest way to make sure it gets done). It means holding fast
to being active in the parish from an early age.
I think that there are three things which really undermined the whole "liturgical life" of the family since the 1960s;
Birth Control/Abortion -- When the family unit shrunk, the idea of
giving a child to the priesthood or religious life went away. Parents
want to be grandparents. That can't happen when there is only 1 boy and
1 girl in the family. They expect the kids to both marry and give them grandchildren.
2. The reductionist view of the Mass (via
the Novus Ordo reforms) -- The sad fact is that during the heyday of
the Novus Ordo reforms, people quit going to Mass. It ceased to be, for
a majority of people what it once was. And with a deficient
catechetical model, the Novus Ordo has never come close to any sort of
authentic and innate understanding in the way that the TLM had. Even
today, many people comment that their first experience with the TLM is
Catholic. How many say that about the Novus Ordo the first time they
assist there? It isn't nearly the same.
3. The admittance of
female altar servers -- When boys are taken out of the sanctuary,
they stop thinking about becoming a priest or religious. How many
seminarians count being an altar boy as one of their main reasons for
trying their vocation? How many girls who have left for the the
convent say the same thing? It's interesting...the vast majority of
seminarians do list being an altar boy as an influence, but very few
girls do. What kind of a message is that sending? Boys need to be put
back into the sanctuary, so they can be put back into the seminary.
Sodalities are set up to give girls a view of what community life is
like and that fosters vocations to the religious life. It's really sad
that we've lost that perspective.
I think that if we as Catholics
are looking at how to recover the liturgical life in our Church, we'd
be well served to not only re-evaluate these three issues, but also to
get involved with the parish in the traditional roles to which we are
best served and which allow us to best serve. This comes first with an understanding that gender roles are not hermaphroditic. Women are called to a different role in the Church than men. This isn't sexist or limiting, but rather, this is empowering one to live their Catholic life to the fullest in the most authentic way. Authenticity, by the way, isn't a subjective thing. It is in it's truest Catholic sense objective. Knowing and embracing this will lead to an inner freedom and clarity of purpose that has not been seen since the mid 1960s, in both the Catholic family and the larger Catholic community.
Obviously, this is
presented from an American point of view, the European model may be
different, but I can say this with all honesty....if we follow a model
close to this, we'll be in a much better place liturgically and
There was a heyday for Catholic life in America and this is how it was done, by and large.