Dear Pope Francis,
You have certainly made your mark lately with several statements and comments that seem to indicate you think the Catholic Church should be more open to change, or at least discussion. The topics of homosexuality and abortion are clearly big-ticket items, so I figure if you’re okay with those you probably won’t have any trouble with my suggestions for some changes.
The Mass is getting longer. There was a time the first Mass on Sunday morning was a no-frills affair, all done in 25 – 30 minutes. There was a bit of organ music, a condensed homily and perhaps most importantly, no singing. What’s with all the singing? It used to be the Protestants who sang their way through church, now Catholic Masses are chock-a-block with singing. If you wanted all the bells and whistles you could attend a later Mass and have the whole choir experience – long or short, it’s still Mass.
I understand that now the first Mass on Sunday is often the only Mass on Sunday as parishes have cut back on the number of services due to shrinking congregations and a shortage of priests to minister to them. I think the offer of a shorter Mass might just bring back some of those who have strayed. Also, the priest shortage means that retirement is put off for many priests; they are not getting any younger and might just like a shortened service. It’s a win – win situation as I see it.
Now if you really want to go the Protestant route maybe you’d consider cutting out all that kneeling. Aging congregations aren’t as agile as they used to be, believe me. Down and up and down and up … could you see some way to maybe let one of those slide? Do away with both of them and parishes can remove the kneelers from the pews and make a few bucks selling them to Japanese restaurants.
A couple of other ideas that might help out: can we provide those taking-up the collection with wireless debit machines? If a busy waitress in a restaurant can do it I’ve got to believe a few folks at each Mass could master the technology. I’m sure you would see an increase in takings. Or perhaps you could introduce sponsorship of various aspects of the service; “This week the vigil lamp is brought to you by Betty’s Red Hot Michigan Hot Dogs”. No? The lamp is there anyway, may as well sell naming rights just like a sports arena.
Let me know if any of these suggestions interest you.