Yes, millennials like brunch. But that’s not why they’re skipping Mass.

It is Sunday morning again. And we should go to Mass; we really should. We do not have an excuse this week.

Most weeks we have an excuse.

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The baby is teething. The toddler had nightmares all night last night. The preschooler has a fever. Mom is coming down with a cold. Dad worked yesterday, and we have not seen him all week. Mom has morning sickness. Mom and Dad are just plain tired. Someone threw up. We are out of town. We have family in town. The weather is bad. The weather is nice.

They are not all good excuses.

The truth is, we do not go to Mass weekly because it is hard. Not hard in a “walk uphill both ways in the snow to fulfill our Christian duty” way. But hard in a “I don’t want to have to wrestle two preschoolers to sit still for an hour while I receive judgmental stares” way. My standards are far more lax than those of my parents, who actually did have us walk uphill in the snow one Sunday morning.

The truth is, we do not go to Mass weekly because it is hard.

While a perfect attendance record may elude us, our twice-monthly attendance at Mass is practically pious by my generation’s standards. Two-thirds of millennial Catholics attend Mass a few times a year or less. I am guessing that for many attendance directly correlates with the number of times their own mom and dad come into town.

Wriggly children are not the only reason my fellow millennials are missing from the pews. The benefits of a church community seem less tangible for young Catholics. The parish simply does not function as the same center of social life that it did for prior generations. Fellowship opportunities are limited for those who are older than youth group age and not quite old enough for the Tuesday morning knitting groups.

But the growing dissatisfaction goes deeper than preferring brunch with friends over stilted coffee and donuts. Millennials, many with a passion for social justice rooted in their Catholic values and upbringing, are dissatisfied with an institution that preaches community and compassion and often practices the opposite. Taught to reach out to the marginalized, young Catholics are typically protective of their L.G.B.T. friends—or feel unwelcome themselves. They do not want to be a part of an organization that has too often been a deep source of pain for the people they love.

Wriggly children are not the only reason my fellow millennials are missing from the pews.

There are other disconnects between the values of millennial Catholics and the church’s practices. They might find the lack of women in positions of leadership unacceptable or consider the church’s emphasis on sexual ethics—birth control, abortion, gay marriage—to be outsized when immigration, health care and climate change feel like far more pressing issues.

Of course, people distance themselves from the faith—or at least the pews—for reasons beyond the doctrinal and political. Young Catholics who have gone through trying, dark times have sometimes found the faith of their childhood did not provide the protection or guidance they needed.

Despite these disappointments, many of my peers have a profound desire to connect with God. But a hard and lonely pew may not be the easiest place to find that connection. Perhaps that is why Jesus is so often found going out and touching those in need, rather than lecturing the crowds, “The temple is open more than just twice a year, you know!”

Those of us who remain in the pews have our work cut out for us.

My family often skips Mass because of the amount of work involved. It is difficult to wrangle toddlers in the pews. It is difficult to give up Sunday mornings we could be spending making pancakes in our pajamas. But the truth is, being a practicing Catholic should be much harder than all of that. If we truly wish to live out the call of the Gospel, those of us who remain in the pews have our work cut out for us.

I dream of a better church. I hope for one that can be a home for all in need, from the L.G.B.T. teenager kicked out of the house by his family to the immigrant in need of protection to the young mother. If I leave the church, I cannot help provide that home for others—at least not in the place that first taught me why serving those on the edges of our society should be my top priority.

Despite my frustrations, despite my children who do not sit still, we will keep going to Mass. We will go not just because of the Catholic guilt that starts eating at me if it has been longer than a few weeks since I spent a homily pacing in the vestibule with a crying child. I go because I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, the maker of all that is seen and unseen. What is unseen at the moment is the type of church we will choose to be for future generations.

In all honesty, I do not know how to build a better church. But I am guessing it probably has something to do with showing up a little more often, not ducking out immediately after Communion and doing something more concrete than telling strangers on the internet I think we could do better.

Perhaps I will get some more ideas at Mass this week. Perhaps not. Either way, I am out of excuses.

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Sheryl Marouiller
4 weeks ago

Thanks! Excellent! Right on....

JOHN ARCHER
4 weeks ago

Jackie
Thank you for the courage to publish your thoughts. It is a shame there are not more comments from either your generation or mine. It is a topic discussed by many in your situation and a discussion that I had this past weekend. My prayers for you, your family and our Church.

Carol Goodson
4 weeks ago

Please keep coming; we all need the Eucharist: there is nothing else like it on earth. And above all, keep praying, because that is the only thing that will get you through.

Lisa Weber
3 weeks 6 days ago

What you say is true for the baby boomers as well. The Church could be better, but it is very hard to make it so.

Vince Killoran
3 weeks 6 days ago

A great essay. As much as I like the changes since Vatican II--and understand the pressing need for many more--the American parish lost much vitality as second- and third-generation Catholics moved out of the old neighborhood and Catholic schools closed. Like the author writes, I'm not sure how to proceed but the parish has to become a place where we spend a lot of time!

Henry George
3 weeks 6 days ago

Perhaps I am naive, or just don't seem to have the Pastors you have,
but I have not heard any Pastor ever speak out against anyone's
sexuality.

If you cannot make it to Church then participate in the Mass
via EWTN's Sunday Mass. The sermons are usually quite satisfying.

J Johnson
3 weeks 4 days ago

Hi Henry. I can share a short story about this. When I came out to some of my friends and family on Facebook a couple of years ago, I received a callous, tone-deaf, and judgmental message from a young priest I had worked with in a parish previously. Even though we hadn't spoken in years, he didn't ask how I was doing. He didn't ask any questions or seek any clarification. He didn't even sign his name. Instead, in a short paragraph, he told me that he was concerned for my soul, that "to act on the inclination within me is sin," and that I should pray harder about it. He made the assumption that because I am gay, I *must* be acting on it, and used that as his starting point. (To be clear: I wasn't...but he didn't consider that.)

Never mind the fact that he and I had worked together in a parish setting and he knows I know the teaching of the Church on this matter. Never mind the fact that I had given him virtually no reason to believe I was acting against that teaching. Never mind the fact that I was very intentional about making sure that nothing I wrote in my FB post said anything contrary to that teaching. His attempt to bring me back to the Church--the Church I had never left--was deeply hurtful and insulting.

I love the Church. I attend Mass and am engaged in the life of my parish. But if this is the "pastoral" approach that some priests are taking to "win back souls," I am worried. If that message had gone to someone else, I could see it having exactly the opposite of its intended effect.

Michael Barberi
3 weeks ago

J J,

You are right. The institutional Church, priests, lay, theologians, bishops et al, have not found a way to treat gay and lesbian Catholics with respect, compassion and sensitivity.

Don't give up. Read Fr. James Martin's new book "Building a Bridge". I often tell my gay friends, you can disagree with a Church teaching and if that means that you have turned away from the Church, never turn away from Christ. He knows you and loves you infinitely more than you love yourself.

There is hope. We have not heard everything on this topic from Pope Francis. Give it time and continue to pray.

Philipp C
3 weeks 5 days ago

The reason why millenials are skipping Mass is because they have lost their sense of purpose and have become so self contrived. They don't understand that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not all about them and their feelings, but about getting to know, love, and serve God by adoring, being contrite for their sins, thanking, and asking for supplication. All they do is go to Mass out of convenience and pray when they need to ask for something. They have not been taught that the Church IS all accepting of ALL people and have not been taught Truth by their parents. They don't even know what the True Presence is or means. Coming from a Jesuit education all my life in high school and college, my teachers or schools never emphasized any of that. Long story short, parents must catechize their children FIRST and foremost. Missing Mass is NOT an option unless there are extremely extenuating circumstances because it is a mortal sin. What happens if you have a mortal sin on your soul? Look that up as homework and you'll never want to miss Mass again. I'm saying this all charitably because God wants us to be with Him in heaven and to open all of your eyes. We can't be salad bar Catholics. We must learn our faith so that we know who God is more and more.

Denis Jackson
3 weeks 4 days ago

Dear philipp C. I have to passionately and urgently disagree totally with you when you state that missing mass is a mortal sin ! That is certainly how we used to view it , but surely not any more in our developed Catholic pastoral theology !
I quite often opt to miss mass on Sunday as I do some voluntary work in a local psychiatric hospital as a mental health ecumenical chaplain .....I may then attend a week day mass if I choose . But to contemplate that I have committed a mortal Sin by not going on a Sunday is just plain ridiculous . A mortal sin is to choose to cut oneself off from Gods love ....what on earth has missing mass on a Sunday got to do with the reality of walking with our loving and almighty Father God ? Does it make God happy for me to go and minister to some poor mentally disabled people , most f whom are unchurched but very welcoming of prayer and chaplaincy comfort etc ...BUT I miss Mass ! What a big sin and big deal to a loving God !
Come on Philipp, get a grip and deal with the new paradigm shift n thinking that Pope Francis has opened up for us .

Have you honestly thought about your question : 'if you have a mortal sin on your soul'.....what does that really mean ?

Beth Cioffoletti
3 weeks 4 days ago

I agree, Denis. That "mortal sin" attached to missing Mass on Sunday was one of the things that started my Big Doubt about what was going on in the Catholic Church way back when I was a teenager. It made Church feel like a Club, and if I didn't adhere to the rules, I was going to Hell. What a way to keep the congregation in line and coming back. For years I did just what you do - sought out weekly Masses and those on the margins, in hospitals or monasteries. Sometimes I would go to a Temple service with a Jewish friend. I'd still like to attend a Mosque. I'm becoming more and more post-denominational as I grow older, though I feed from Christianity and particularly Catholicism. But I rebel to the imperative to go to Church every Sunday.

Philipp C
3 weeks 4 days ago

Relativity is the opposite of Truth and you can choose whatever you want to believe but Truth never changes. Of course acts of charity are needed to supplement, but I think you both need to study up on your catechism and learn exactly what the Church teaches before throwing emotions around. You can't pick and choose what you want to believe when it comes to being a practicing Catholic. If there is something you disagree with, learn up on it and try to understand it better rather than accepting what society tells you or how you choose to interpret it. I really do pray for both of your conversions and for you to see the Truth. Please don't take this in a patronizing way but I really do hope and pray you learn to understand what the True Presence is and realize the errors of your ways. God bless!

Philipp C
3 weeks 4 days ago

A mortal sin is: 1. Of a grave matter (e.g. Breaking any of the 10 commandments) 2. You knowingly commit., and 3. You give full consent. When you don't go to Mass on Sunday, you choose to not keep Holy the sabbath (a commandment). It is now a mortal sin because it is a grave matter to break a commandment. If you continue to refuse to go to Mass and don't make a good confession, it becomes a mortal sin because you selfishly choose your will over God's will. This is what the Catholic Church teaches. No emotions or opinions attached. Just the facts. Doctrine NEVER changes.

Anne Chapman
3 weeks 3 days ago

Going to mass for most, those who go out of "obligation" and fear, is not keeping holy the Sabbath. Obviously, the commandment said nothing at all about going to Roman Catholic mass, given that it was given to Moses hundreds of years before there was a christian church. Caring for others is definitely a way to keep holy the sabbath. It is sad that so many in the church continue to believe in some of the unfortunate and damaging teachings that the church has mistakenly promulgated over the years. It's no wonder that educated young adults shun formal religion, seeking instead a deeper spirituality than is usually found in the typical parish - Catholic or other christian denomination. BTW, you may also wish to study a bit more about the true conditions for mortal sin, reflect, and pray that God will open your mind and soul to God's love and truth, and that you may learn to distinguish between God and a very, very human institution.

Joseph Jaglowicz
2 weeks 4 days ago

When persons commit "mortal sin", are they doing so in order to separate themselves completely from God? For example, if a single man and a single woman (both free to marry) "have sex", are they telling God to get lost? Do they not love God? I doubt it. So much for so-called "full consent". If this couple fails to go to confession, the church says they may not receive holy communion. Instead, according to "Holy Mother", they may engage in "spiritual communion" with God. Kinda' like Jesus shaking hands with some folks in line --- but only smiling at the mortal sinners in line! The word 'communion' indicates that one is in "union with" another. "Holy Mother", however, imposes an artificial distinction in its use of "communion". Perhaps the CDF should consider how Matthew 9:13 and 19:13-15 as well as Luke 15 effectively reject the so-called difference between "holy" and "spiritual" communion.

М Сва
3 weeks 4 days ago

Yesssssssssssssssssss, you are RIGHT (in your original comment and in all the other ones)!! I don't really know if I qualify as a millennial, I ignore those terms mostly, but I'm newly 33. Grew up with my first Holy Communion three YEARS before my first confession, not knowing there were even mysteries of the Rosary despite nine years of Catholic school, etc. So I fit what seems to be the majority's experience for my age. Along with all that, I stopped my every-Sunday Mass-going habit at nearly my first opportunity (I went throughout basic training because it was a free hour+ of not being yelled at or forced to attempt push-ups, went the first weekend upon arrival at my training base, and from then on not again for literal years, not really actually getting my act together until our oldest son was FIVE, when my conscience woke up and I realized I actually was responsible for this child and his formation and was failing him -- and his brothers) justifying such a decision, when I bothered to justify it, with "well, I don't get anything out of it" and "I mean, what's the point, I spend it all chasing the kid [who would likely not need chasing around given Mass attendance from birth and proper teaching on my part] around and trying to not irritate people".

Finally, FINALLY, it sunk in that OBEDIENCE was the point. Submitting to something that wasn't me and wasn't my preference and wasn't my choice. Showing my kids that they should also submit when they don't want to. Maybe because we don't want to. In the ONLY Aristotle quote I think I know, he points out that "The aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought" and I think that's an area where people of our generation are REALLY weak, so we have endless reasons why we shouldn't have to, can't, or don't want to do things that we just don't feel like doing. We just need to get over it. We certainly don't need more ammo. And especially not people saying Pope Francis somehow made a sin not a sin, hah..

(I will also mention that because our generation's catechesis was lacking at best, things like skipping Mass may indeed not be mortal sins because the knowledge is not present, that is the person legitimately does not know that he's obligated and to skip going would be sinful, so therefore isn't willfully choosing sin.. But YES, it is a sin! A grave one! Definitely go!!)

Philipp C
3 weeks 4 days ago

Thanks for the thumbs up :) im 30 as well and had a reversion 3 years ago- but this young generation is so hung up on social justice issues that they forget about the origins of the faith and the importance of authority in the Church. I will add them all in my intentions so that they might put aside their arrogance and disobedience to see the Eucharist for what it really is. The lack of a strong Church starts with men and families. The more and more we dilute our children with false ecumenism and salad bar catholicism the less people will be saved at judgement. I personally see it as my Christian duty to help save as many souls as possible because the road to Heaven is narrow.

Kristyne Fetsic
2 weeks 6 days ago

Phillip, have you ever considered that authoritarian beliefs and judgements like yours are what keeps people away from Mass? Is that in the spirit of saving their souls? I know it's a hard thing, but reaching out and having an open heart and mind to those seeking a relationship, wherever on the journey they may be, might be the better way to "save their soul." It would certainly get them to Mass faster to offer a tender and understanding response rather than scaring them into going.

And by the way, you don't save their soul. The Holy Spirit saves their soul. It's your job to encourage, to LOVE, and to understand the Holy Spirit has a unique and special way of meeting and loving every perfectly created person the Spirit has created. It's all about getting to the source of that beautiful, ever-giving love.

If you say you're praying for those whose relationship with God you see as lesser than yours, I don't think you're achieving your intention when you speak to and about people the way you have in this forum. Maybe focus on your own relationship, speak about the amazing experiences you've had in that relationship and perhaps this will open people's heart enough to allow the Holy Spirit to whisper His/Her love in their heart.

Susan Reynolds
2 weeks 6 days ago

Um, last I checked, Jesus was "hung up on social justice issues," too.

Lisa Weber
3 weeks 4 days ago

I left the Church when I was young and was gone for 40 years. The simplistic, uninviting view you espouse was the reason I left. If I had found a continuation of it when I wandered back, I would have left again. The Church does not control God nor does it control access to heaven. I suspect the millenials leave because the richness of spiritual teaching is not readily available. The fact that the Church is so openly sexist does not help.

Anne Chapman
3 weeks 3 days ago

Lisa, your observations about millennials are supported by most serious research into the "nones" and "spirtual but not religious". However, the younger people have also grown up in a time of enormous uncertainty. The information revolution brings competing ideas to them constantly, in a barrage of noise. I can understand that it may be disorienting to many, disquieting to those who are not mature enough or otherwise equipped by personality or disposition to handle the cacophony on their own. The false certainty of the Baltimore Catechism approach to religion appeals to them. It seems very safe. No doubts. No questions. No struggle. One sees this in the evangelical protestant community as well. No formal catechism, but they are taught very early in their lives what they must believe, how to think, and that dissent is cause for being kicked out of the church community they belong to. So the young who are not equipped for the world they find outside their "safe" congregations like the comfort of the false certainty they are led to believe in. They simply have to accept and obey. Those who leave are those who understand that spirituality and religion are not simply a set of rigid doctrines and dogmas, who are willing to search and to grapple in order to form their own consciences, but unfortunately, the simplistic Baltimore Catechism approach is what too many are finding in the Catholic church these days. Many Catholics really do think that God conforms to the little box that human beings try to force on to the Divine. Sadly, some want to make God into their own image.

Michael Barberi
3 weeks ago

Thanks Anne and Lisa.

I took my spouse and two children with me to Mass every Sunday for 20 years. Then, as adults, my children went away to college and stopped going to Mass. They don't go to Mass for the reasons you all say and what surveys have demonstrated.

The Church has to change and bring forth a more relavant and compelling message of the love of Christ that addresses more fully the burdens and circumstances our families face today. They have a long road ahead.

Christine C
3 weeks 4 days ago

The author makes some good points about aspects of organized religion which are a turn off for many people, esp young people, but I wonder why the Eucharist -the center of the mass and our Catholic faith - was not mentioned. I feel sure that if we all had a greater understanding and interest in this mystery of faith we would be flooding those hard wooden pews to share at table together and allow ourselves to be transformed for the work of loving our neighbors.

Christopher Clody
3 weeks 3 days ago

Thank you such a well written essay. Could you honor a selfish request that stems from the insights of countless mornings holding Mother's bouquet of roses? So often I see such a push, especially through facebook ads, for 'Learning how to defend the Catholic faith'. This is a good thing on many levels, yet I sense a hidden void. I would be gratefully edified (not justified in my opinions), if a polished author and researcher like yourself could attempt to fill this hole missing in the breadth of Truth Catholics attempt to grasp. If I may be so bold, I believe an honest approach to why there are declining lines funneling towards the Eucharistic door into the love of the Trinity's dwelling, which now includes myself. I have come to believe it is not knowledge of Catholicism's luxurious posterity but how fear has allowed its icy grip upon the Church's leadership. Fear has hobbled the reckless and wasteful love of Christ into a sense of protectionism. As scandals from pedophilia to financial mistrust reconstitutes a veil of secrecy. Our Mother constantly encourages all to repent, to pray, and to sacrifice. With each rosary she releases her tortured yet hopeful thoughts for our consolation. It is her inseparable and immaculate heart joined to that of her sacred Son's that plead for our fearless souls. I am just an ordinary man grasping well-worn beads praying that our leadership will truly be transparent knowing all of our intentions and works, both good and bad, will be tearfully examined under the sole light of Heaven: Jesus. Has Jesus not conquered this world? Does He still not plead for our forgiveness? As the horrible chastisement approaches one step closer, I pray for our fearless proclamations even if we are to wear His healing stripes. Ad Jesum per Mariam, Chris

Janet Zimmer
3 weeks ago

Weekly attendance was possible when women remained at home and weekends were free of household chores except for a bit of cooking, but that's not the way we live now (out of necessity or preference), so people are just too frenzied and exhausted to maintain much of a spiritual life beyond contributing to charities and supporting politicians who seem to care about the vulnerable. I wish our society were in a state where churches could keep their doors open 24/7 so people could at least have a still, silent visit God in the Tabernacle when they could, even if the only available time they had was on the way home after working overtime. (Maybe churches could install locks that open with key cards and issue them to parishioners?) But I really don't think there is much that can be done to fill the Sunday pews again without a sea change in our priorities and the way we choose to live. Some things are simply incompatible.

2 weeks 6 days ago

Thank you for this article. I used to love going to mass, couldn't wait for Sunday morning to come... Then I learned that the body of Christ -which I'd thought was broken for sinners- could not be shared with a sinner like me. Now, honestly, I spent most Sunday mornings in bed or talking to my husband, recovering from a week filled with helping others who are also unworthy or unwelcome in the presence of the Catholic God... It has been a painful journey but I am learning to find God not in sacred spaces with red tape keeping the dirty hands of sinners off those holy objects and teachings... I'm learning to find him instead in the hunger and brokenness of my brothers and sisters, in spaces far away of polished holiness, condemnation and exclusion. It was a difficult journey and my heart got broken, but I'm learning to find Jesus among cripples and sinners rather than cathedrals where the holy and worthy celebrate the true presence of God. I still love the beauty of mass and I am deeply touched by the liturgy. But I also struggle to bring myself to a place on Sunday morning, where I am not welcome to join in the feast that celebrates the One who was broken for sinners. And when I go, it seems like God is asking me to join in Pascal joy: God's ability and desire to love broken things, broken people, maybe even a broken church.

J Cosgrove
2 weeks 6 days ago

It's really quite simple. You either believe or don't believe. If you believe you go to Mass. if you don't then you have no reason for going. So why bother. It really is difficult some mornings.

Most people go out of habit or think it is good for the children not belief so the actual believing Catholics is quite small.

The Church has become a social institution not a means to salvation especially amongst the Jesuits. So we measure Mass attendance against pancakes and soccer games not whether there is a life after this.

Joseph Jaglowicz
2 weeks 4 days ago

"The Church has become a social institution..." Indeed, as they, i.e., churches/assemblies/ecclesiae, were at the very beginning! The earliest eucharistic liturgies were led by unordained presiders/presidents who served in this capacity, first and foremost, by virtue of their *community* leadership. As Christianized Jews were increasingly shunned by their "orthodox" Jewish neighbors, it would be necessary for these primitive Christians to set up their own social and other support systems to replace the services previously available to them in their synagogues, i.e., communities.. If the Church of Rome is to be true to its Christian origins, it must remain a "social institution" that addresses the socio-economic as well as religious and spiritual needs of people.

Vincent Gaglione
2 weeks 2 days ago

Your cynicism about some of your fellows in the pews is stunning. Your absolutism regarding salvation is overwhelming. You obviously think you are right, maybe even righteous. The sinner in me prays for my own sake that you are wrong.

Philipp C
1 week 6 days ago

Thankkk you J cosgrove! you hit it right on the head! People think they the Catholic Church isn't welcoming if their particular church isn't holding those kinds of functions or they have a priest who has "unappealing" "judgemental" sounding. It is quite the opposite- instead of feeling offended or unwelcomed, they refuse to learn Truth and get defensive because there's something they disagree with. Youre correct. either believe in the Eucharist is Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity or you don't. If people did, their actions would reflect that- Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.

Mike Anderson
2 weeks 6 days ago

The millenials don't go because their parents don't go (until after the kids' Confirmation, of course). The parents don't go because mass is uninspiring and practically non-religious, and to the extent that it is religious, the parents and the children are woefully lacking in understanding it, thanks to the pathetic teaching offered by the Church. Social justice is fine, except that you can get that anywhere, and kids nowadays get it everywhere, including what used to be called catechism classes (now called "PREP").

Joseph Jaglowicz
2 weeks 4 days ago

Let's thank JPII and B16 for this woeful state of catechesis. They had 35+ years to do something productive, but the sad record speaks for itself. The proverbial "buck" stopped with them (or perhaps just at their papal feet).

Paula Colling
2 weeks 5 days ago

I enjoyed this article, but as a woman who was raised Catholic and attended primary, middle, high school, and a Jesuit university I have a different perspective. I do not, and have not attended mass for a number of years. I am now 49 years old with two children who are 21 and 24 year-old men - both also went to Catholic primary and middle school, and neither goes to mass unless they are with their father's family (my ex-husband).

There are a litany of reasons that I have not attended - and I know that they share many of these reasons because we have always had a good dialogue and (many times spirited debate) on any number of topics related to churn, faith, various social issues, etc. Based on these discussions I know that for all of us the reason for not attending can be summed up in a word - hypocrisy.

As a child, and even to this day when I do go into a church (occasionally to light a candle or to just stop in) I feel a sense of belonging - to something bigger than me, and to a family of sorts. I feel remember the songs that I loved (Isaiah 49 comes to mind). The hush and the separateness from the pressures of the outside world and the ability to think/pray in silence is so nice.

What I can't do, however, is know about the child sex scandals, the blind devotion to right-of-center politics in the name of being "pro-life" while voting for candidates who defeat legislation that helps the poor, the disenfranchisement of women, and the lack of support of the LGBTQ community - I can't sit there on Sunday like I am ok with all of it.

To me, my presence is a tacit agreement with the way Church hierarchy has dealt with these issues. Their positions feel like a betrayal of the innocent kid I was who truly believed that we as Catholics have compassion, are nonjudgmental, and accept those who are different, help the poor without question or judgement, and protect those who are weakest or smallest. That we are not beholden to money and power - I just can't square it in my heart and my conscience and sit there.

2 weeks 5 days ago

Paula, thank you for your honesty. It breaks my heart though. Like you, I am drawn to the different space that opens when I enter church and in some way I am always touched by the beauty and richness of mass. God lives everywhere and he lives in the Catholic Church. And yet, there are things taking place that seem to nail Christ to the cross all over again. Many of my Catholic friends struggle with this, but there is no space for them to express their conflicts and their pain. I admire your integrity and your courage to say 'no' by staying away. However, my heart is bleeding. There is brokenness and yet, the Catholic Church is also where we pray that '... all the lands be filled with Pascal joy.’ What a contradiction: 'Pascal'- the event of God dying- connected with joy?! Could it be that heaven was singing with joy- even as God's heart was breaking watching his son bleed to death? Could that moment be God’s clear and definite 'yes' to brokenness? Maybe God’s ‘yes’ holds the promise that brokenness doesn’t have to be the ultimate reality? I long for the day the Catholic Church lets go off illusions and pretense and invites me into a church- that like everything on this earth- is both beautiful and broken... Maybe that day will make it possible for many of my friends, whose ethics and integrity I deeply respect, to enter the place where they still feel they belong, where we still find beauty and where we are welcomed into the presence of a God who embraces brokenness. The brokenness of his children and the brokenness of his Church. Thank you for being true to your heart and your honesty and for sharing your journey.

Vincent Gaglione
2 weeks 2 days ago

Thank you for an excellent article that sums up the attitude of so many of us who still attend Mass regularly with hope in our hearts for a more Christian church.

The situation will all further deteriorate, however, until and when our Catholic leaders realize the potential and the treasure that exists among laypeople in the pews and find the ways to allow laypeople to exploit their faith and talents to the benefits of parishes and ultimately to the Church.

Pope Francis seems to understand it.

Priests and Bishops in missionary environments seem to understand it.

Only in economically comfortable Western nations does there seem to be inertia to do it.

Teresa Gould
2 weeks 1 day ago

Being on the other side of motherhood, I well remember those exhausting and frustrating Sunday mornings trying to get everyone to church and then ending up in the vestibule with a tired and cranky toddler. When I see young parents like you today at church, my heart is touched by the great effort you have made to be there. . I know the struggles. I hope you can see that your presence is needed, not only for yourself and your children but for the older generation. Your presence lets us know and see that the faith is alive and growing. Your presence brings us great joy! Sometime the best homily at mass for me is the one I see in young families. God's peace be with you and your family!

CHRIS RED
2 weeks 1 day ago

The church is openly aligned with the Republican party, even if the Pope occasionally denounces the current administration. No millennial wants to be a party to that group. The Church should split from them immediately if they want to survive even the next five years. In addition, the freewheeling misogyny re the priesthood has to end. The Episcopalian Church did it and lived to tell the tale. Finally, the sexual abuse has to be openly and fully addressed. The victims must all be found, compensated, and treated for trauma for life. It's a HUGE source of embarrassment and shame for anyone who is Catholic and has any sense of compassion. Why is this not obvious to all? (I remember when Church was fun ..... in the mid-70s, briefly, then .... torture)

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