The Mass is ended. The closing procession makes its way down the aisle at a pace slower than a funeral march. The priest is lost in his hymnal, following along a little farther back. You make your way out of the pew and down the aisle and out onto the steps of the church to a sweltering, muggy summer evening just in time to see what seem like shards of light slicing across the scene. Thank God.
What is this strange reality so many of us Catholics are stuck with where leaving the Mass becomes something truly like a gift; where the Mass was celebrated so limply that in fact it wasn’t celebrated really at all. Where leaving a climate conditioned church for a sweaty summer night with birds chirping and sun setting and fountains gurgling makes you wonder what you were doing inside in the first place?
What is this strange feeling we’re left with when not simply the homily but the entire liturgy feels like a diminishing rather than replenishing action?
We 20 percent of Catholics who continue to come face what seems like indifferent pastoral leaders more often than courtesy lets us too often acknowledge.
Why do limp, testosterone-sapped, formulaic, franchise-style churches die?
The question contains its own answer.