Thousands of Catholic churches in Europe – and over 1,000 in America – have had to shut their doors, or be used as venues for various forms of entertainment or whatever. Why? Mostly because no one is going to Mass.
People called Patrick with various excuses like banal liturgy, lack of enthusiasm from the clergy, not enough outreach to fallen away Catholics, yada yada.
One caller, however, gave the thought-provoking reason, of artificial birth control and the mentality behind it.
Now why in the world would what couples did in the privacy of their own homes cause the collapse of Catholicism in all but a few tiny enclaves throughout the world, as is now being predicted? Is there any connection?
The Eucharistic connection
Well, consider that throughout the American church, on any Sunday at an English-speaking Mass, you can watch almost everyone go up to Communion. Based on some easily gleaned statistics, and regardless of some controversy, it is apparent that a majority of adult Catholics have involvement, either once, or now, or soon to be, in some sort of artificial birth control. Thus, both the Church’s stand that such involvement is a mortal sin, and that the state of grace is required to receive the Eucharist are often being ignored.
So we could ask for starters, what does very widespread unworthy – and therefore sacriligious – reception of the Eucharist mean to the continued existence of the Church? It means that for many, the Church has become merely a social gathering, and not to be taken seriously. Therefore something easy to skip, or even leave.
Baltimore Catechism – Where is God?
What else? Well, what can be laid at the feet of artificial birth control is a mentality that eschews pregnancy except when it is decided upon, which for most couples becomes rarely or never. That is, God’s presence in a marital act, which is a metaphor for our soul’s ultimate union with the Trinity, is excluded artificially most of the time.
As little children many of us learned to answer the question “Where is God? with “God is everywhere.” Oops, well, not in sexual relations that involve artificial birth control. If hell is where God isn’t, what does this say about purposefully removing Him from the marital embrace? Are there consequences? Like what?
Maybe, how about in the U.S., a dropping population, substantially held up by a 40 percent illegitimate birth rate. Could these be factors in lowered church attendance? Just consider a single mom dragging all three kids to church by herself every Sunday.
Or how about sexually transmitted disease? That would apply to nearly 25 percent of high school women, for example, and epidemic numbers of adults. Which would seem to point to an absence of God’s influence in people’s lives. STDs alone indicate we are living amidst rampant promiscuity. When was the last time you heard of anyone being promiscuous? It’s almost normative today. What happens to marriages in such an environment? Perhaps fewer getting married and a 50 percent divorce rate like we now have?
Artificial birth control methods don’t always keep sperm and ova from combining. But if not, hormonal and IUD methods may keep the new life from implanting in which case they can act as abortifacients. If implantation does occur and pregnancy continues however, abortion along with over a million others each year becomes an option. In the midst of this known and unknown destruction of human life, there is inevitable movement away from God.
Yet this is not about sexual morality
And severely dropping church attendance? Well, consider the immature Catholic faith – if any – all these mostly young people may have brought to their illicit sexual encounters. Faith – even if once strong – in this stew, can only weaken, ebb away, and become at most a bothersome shadow, no longer beckoning to Mass.
There is now an ongoing Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops on the Family. We should pray that come October, the bishops get at the roots of all the disordered family life and the pretenses and counterfeits of marriage in our society. Otherwise, the American Church will indeed follow the collapsing one in Europe. Benedicamus Domino .