Thursday, July 13, 2006

John Martignoni Answers Letters From His Mail Bag

Hello. I've recently found your radio program and listen in the mornings - about a week now. I have been raised in the Roman Catholic Church, but have been away from it since I was 19 yrs old (now 54 yrs old). I've been searching for a spiritual home for 15 yrs. and most recently a fundamental, bible-believing church - 3 yrs now. I am questioning where I belong and re-thinking Catholicism because of your radio show and this website. I went to mass a few weeks ago, and I can't help but feel like there is no heartfelt participation by the congregation. It feels like the worship singing is done by the "singer" up front and not very much singing from the people. I almost want to come back to my upbringing, but not sure if I can get past this stumbling block. I have seen and felt the enthusiasm in my bible church and feel like this is something I would have to give up to come back to Catholicism. Can you help me with this? More than anything, I want sincerity in my worship. Am I being too judgemental of the mass attendees? Thanks for any advice you can give me.


Dear Sally,

I know exactly what you're talking about, but my question to you is: Which is more important, the way other people react to the truth, or the truth itself? Are there Catholics who just go through the motions at Mass and who, in general, just go through the motions of being Christian? Absolutely...way too many in fact. Are there priests, and even some bishops, who don't properly instruct their people and give bland and fairly meaningless homilies? Absolutely. Are there parishes where the singing (or lack thereof) leaves a whole lot to be desired? Absolutely.

But, again, do you allow those who don't appreciate the priceless treasure they have right in front of them to keep you away from that treasure? Would you have allowed the reactions of the twelve apostles on Holy Thursday to keep you away from Christ? Afterall, one of them betrayed Him and 10 of the other 11 abandoned Him. Would you have said, "Well, if that's how those closest to Him react, then I don't want to have anything to do with Him?" Should the sincerity of worship be the determining factor in what you believe to be true? Mormons worship very sincerely, and they have some incredible singing. Muslims are very sincere in their worship...they stop, wherever they are, five times a day to hit their knees and pray. The trouble is, sincerity has nothing to do with determining truth.

Also, you need to consider that Catholics, in general, are not as emotional in their worship service as our Protestants. Why not? Because we don't need to be. Now, that's not to say that we shouldn't have good singing and more participation in the singing and things like that, but our worship service is not about making us feel good, it's about worshipping God. The God Who is physically present in the Eucharist in a way that He is not present in any other church. And, while it is possible that at any particular parish there is a lack of "heartfelt participation," it is also possible that the participation which on the surface doesn't appear to be heartfelt, is actually much more heartfelt and much more intimate than at other simply isn't expressed in song or such.

Catholics have a lot we can learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters...particularly in the areas of fellowshipping, Bible reading, youth ministry, singing, etc. That's not to say that there isn't good singing or good youth groups or Bible studies or fellowshipping in the Catholic Church, there is. But, on average, Protestant churches do such things better. However, we have something that no other church has...the fullness of the truth as given to us by Jesus Christ. We have the Eucharist. We have the other Sacraments. We have the Priesthood. We have the Pope and the Magisterium. We have the Communion of Saints. And so much more. Do we often fail to appreciate all that we have...yes, unfortunately. But, that shouldn't be enough to keep someone who knows the truth away from the truth.

I would simply say to keep attending Mass, but do some independent study on the Mass. Know what's going on and why. If you would like, I could suggest some resources. And keep praying that Christ show you the truth and ask Him to help you get past this particular stumbling block. And, don't be surprised if, once you get past this stumbling block, others get thrown in your way.

Well, I hope that helps. If I can do anything else, please let me know.

God bless!

John Martignoni

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