We have had the Traditional Latin Mass at our parish for a little under 18 months. On some Sundays following the Mass, one of the families in the parish arrives to baptize their baby, and that's where you see the collision of two worlds. During the minor elevation today, I had what sounded like an argument taking place on the steps of the church. I quickly deduced that the offenders were probably part of a family there to Christen a child. Sure enough, as we exited church, there was an extended family with an adorable baby girl, waiting to come inside.
One of the young women was so scantily clothed, that I had to stop myself from stopping her from entering the church. She was carrying a small child, and all I could think of was that if the child got the least bit squirmy, she was going to lose what little of a top she was wearing. It's not the first time we've seen women about to enter the church in clothing I wouldn't even call appropriate in a burlesque club. I know this is deeply disturbing and offensive to the priest, who is thinking first and foremost of Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.
Yesterday, at the Adoration chapel following Mass, a man seemingly wandered in and began talking to himself out loud, or so I thought. Actually , he had a headset on, and was talking to someone else. He was oblivious to the fact that people were trying to pray and that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. He walked up to a priest who was trying to spend some time in thanksgiving before Jesus and asked him if he was the pastor. I didn't hear the response, but the priest left, and shortly thereafter, the pastor arrived. Believe it or not, the man was a funeral director who had arrived early to set up for a funeral. I'm sure it wasn't his first time in a Catholic church, yet you'd never believe it. I was never so glad as when the pastor arrived and gave him a lesson in appropriate behavior in front of the Eucharist.
A priest recently lamented to me about the lack of appreciation (for lack of a better word) for the sacraments and Mass. "People", he said, "seem to have no realization whatsoever that they're in the presence of God."
I told him that in our particular community, I think the sacraments like Baptism, First Holy Communion, and even funerals are nothing more than a cultural rite of passage and an excuse to have a party, at least for some. How else do you explain people who baptize their children, and then never bring them to church again unless it's Christmas Eve or time to make First Holy Communion? And how do you change that?
One thing I've noticed is that when a family arriving for Baptism ventures into the church before the conclusion of the TLM, they seem to know they'd better not carry on or say a word. At first, you might hear some conversation as they enter, but the demeanor of the congregation quickly lets them know it's inappropriate. The same thing happens when some of the chatter-boxes who normally go to the Ordinary Form of the Mass attend the TLM. Maybe it's the women in veils and the men in suits or the perfectly behaved children, but whatever it is, they quickly get the idea that their usual behavior at Mass would be unacceptable here. The trick is, how do we get them to see that it's inappropriate at the Novus Ordo as well?
I'm simply not the kind of person who can say "Oh, well, so long as I'm on the right track, who cares about the rest of them?" I feel very strongly that I will be held accountable not only for my own actions but for my influence on others. The lukewarm souls are the ones Our Lord confided to St. Faustina pain Him most of all. What can I do to change that?
I must be a Catholic that others will want to emulate. I must learn to be reverent without being dour. I must learn to be committed without being extreme. I must learn to be prayerful without seeming aloof. I must be charitable in correction without the use of snide sarcasm. And I must first acknowledge my own shortcomings and ask God for the grace to bear such strong resemblance to His Only Son that it's Him they see, and not me.