Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois
Before I make my comments about the Catholic Church and Catholics let me insert a disclaimer. I am not Catholic, nor is anyone in my family. I am not well versed in the liturgy or the fundamentals of Catholicism. My experience and opinions about Catholicism rise largely from my association with Catholic friends from all over the world.
When I was a young kid growing up in the 50’s and 60’s there was a lot of bad blood between Christians of all religions. The Baptists didn’t like the Presbyterians, the Lutherans didn’t much care for the Methodists, and Protestants of all stripes had nothing nice to say about the Catholics. I think that most of that foolishness has been buried along with those who espoused those views but that’s the way it was.
When I was a young man growing up as a “Jack Mormon” I attended early worship at 9:40 am every Sunday. This was followed by Sunday school at 10am and the main church service which lasted until around noon. If that wasn’t enough every Wednesday night my Father and I attended prayer meeting. With a mindset of “the less religion the better” I envied my Catholic friends who could get away with logging in only one hour a week. Later they were able attend church on Saturday evening instead of Sunday morning which I considered the ultimate religious perk!
As the years have gone by I have had the pleasure of having many Catholic friends and of attending mass in several countries. It is my opinion that many people in this world (myself included at times) have strayed from the religious values and eternal truths that we were taught as children. It is difficult to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads not only to salvation but to close families, higher incomes, better life decisions and lasting happiness. Unfortunately many people just don’t think about God anymore, nor do they pray or engage in an examination of their “spiritual health.”
Not so for Catholics. Call it guilt or habit or just blind obedience they SHOW UP for mass. While attending Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago today I saw Catholics of many races kneeling and praying shoulder to shoulder in common pews. Unlike many Protestant churches sparsely filled with old people these Catholic churches have within them many children as well as people in their teens, twenties, thirties and forties. Young parents sit in the pews with well-behaved children dressed in their best clothes. Some parishioners wear nice dresses, some wear suits and ties and some come in blue jeans. And testing the true mercy of the Lord our God, one guy even wears a Chicago Bears football jersey!
These are diverse people but they are one in their Catholicism. No matter how any outsider wishes to judge their religious dedication I say one thing is for sure; these Catholics take at least a minimum of one hour a week to pray, to listen to God’s word, to reflect and to be reminded of who created them and what he wants them to do. In what is becoming an increasingly crappy world where people are setting themselves above their creator and floating far beyond the solid moorings that have served humanity for thousands of years, these Catholics are humbly keeping the faith. I admire them.
God bless them.