It’s hard to look at faith today and say it’s a strong and solvent business. So many parishes and congregations have seen their numbers decline over the past couple years; and those who have continued steadfastly at their churches have noticed the percentage of giving has decreased over the years as well. Churches note in their newsletters and from their pulpits and in their service sheets that pledges are waning, they’re downright withering. People have concluded the inevitable demise of the churches and they’re financial problems all stem from the fall of the economy. Sadly, the decline started much earlier than that.

In the 1960’s, the Roman Catholic Church held the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965. During this council, many changes were made to the state of the Roman Church – modernizations that they hoped would bring the church into the 20th Century.

Long story short, things just got out of hand. Rather than just celebrating the Church in the 20th Century by educating the people, the entirety of Christianity became watered down throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Rather than explaining to the masses why things were done, the Church simplified everything to a child’s level. Churches pulled the altars away from the walls, removed tabernacles from their rightful places to place them someplace off to the side, eliminated classic language to modern language, and even removed the pronouns for God to make Him something of an oddity (Mother/Father/Creator).

The Churches further inflicted these ideas on the people, telling them they were oddities by not wanting the modern thoughts and ideas; by clinging to the old traditions, they were killing the church.

Little by little, the sanctity of God and faith waned. No longer was the idea of the Eucharist or Mass one of importance. Holiness was a concept we read about in the everyday language readings on Sundays (or Saturday nights, because we had plans for Sunday like sleeping in). Before 1970, church was the event for Sundays. Today, church was something you fit into your busy schedule, and skipped if it didn’t fit with everything else you had to do. Before 1970, one walked into their house of worship in awe and quiet, found a spot, and prayed in the sanctity that was God’s revelation on Earth. Today, it’s a building that may or may not have a table of worship, may or may not have a tabernacle present, is no different from most theaters in the round, has no quiet spot, and primarily doesn’t inspire prayer, but loud conversation. Before 1970, people got early to church to have time to sit quietly, mediate on the mysteries, and pray before the service began. Today, people show up at the very last minute, or well after.

Over the years, the churches (catholic and protestant) have lost the mystery of the Word. I remember growing up in a Lutheran Church that didn’t even believe in the True Presence of the sacrament, that Holy Communion was a very sacred thing. It was approached with reverence, received quietly, and one offered thanks for the incredible blessing one received by the Hand of God. My first remembrance of this Lutheran communion service was sitting with my grandmother after she received it, and smelling the ‘holiness’ on her breath (it was the smell of the Manichevitz wine they used). Today, so many people receive the sacrament like it was nothing. It’s not a Holy Thing anymore. It’s just another service one has to fit into their already tight schedule.

Personally, I prefer the tradition of the Anglo-Catholic Mass (like those at S Clement’s Church, Philadelphia), but holiness can also be found in other traditions. It’s not the outward music that makes it holy. It’s not the outward buildings that make it holy. We first need to realize the Truth ourselves. We need to begin to approach God with the Holiness due Him. And the children must also be shown the difference between that which is sacred, and that which is secular. And neither should be treated as the other.

Then, maybe then, will the churches begin to see an incline.