I am a cradle born Catholic post Vatican II. At times I have visited other denominations many years ago at the height of youthful disenfranchisement with my own church, but by and large I found the Catholic doctrine is solid – our delivery still remains an issue! What our priest say after the Gospel is read is also key. If I were pope, I would “order” a secret missive that priest slowly start expanding that segment of interpretation and application of the readings by about a minute a week or so until it achieves a significance of lasting impact. Of course, that would call on our priest to have greater depth and oratory skills in a time of great shortage! Pulling back quantity (number of masses) for quality (content) may in the long run fill the pews, and eventually increase discipleship. In poorer communities, the morning mass should be followed by social morning breakfast (free perhaps with a non-public place for donations to help with cost out of sight of kids) where all members are encouraged to sit and dialogue on the sermon.
I contacted my parish several weeks ago to meet with the monsignor over healthcare conflicts as a social worker, first by e-mail with content and than by phone. We scheduled a week out. The day of the appointment I was cancelled. . We came close to finding an appt. another week or two out and than I decided thanks but no thanks. The secretary was great. My own crisis of issues had resolved anyway. Access to spiritual direction is an issue as well. While I may have the skills and commitment to challenge myself (i.e. like this course), the spiritually fragile would be gone from the above. They might return if a follow up note was sent by e-mail from the priest – sorry we couldn’t make it happen kind of thing. The greatest weakness of our church are pastoral, followed by media and politicians appropriation of the faith.