When I had the good fortune of joining a parish that had a Latin mass, I was quickly converted. Although, at first, lost in the Latin language, I was enthralled by the beautiful simplicity that was the mass itself. The focus was, unmistakably, on the body and blood of Christ. A whole new world opened up and helped me to begin to understand the two thousand year old practices of my Catholic faith.
Fast forward three years later, my husband and I made a decision to relocate some seven hundred miles to a small community where, despite all my hopes, there was no Latin mass. It had, apparently, been forbidden some years earlier within the diocese by the then bishop.
We made the two hour trip once monthly to the only Latin mass offered in the province. But, two hours in the dead of winter across rural highways has its limitations.
After much discernment, my husband and I decided to attend the Novus Ordo mass at the local church, which happens to be the cathedral for the diocese.
Imagine my pain and sadness when I walked into this cathedral. Paint peeled away from above the arches like leaves falling from mighty oaks in an autumn wind.
My heart literally felt heavy.
This church was built with the love and devotion of artisans and craftsmen.
It was to be occupied by a people whose journey by ship to a new land in the harshest of conditions to live lives of great toil and uncertainty, but who lived filled with faith in God that they and their children would forge new and better lives.
Today, this church is rarely even half filled except during holidays. It has been wracked by the same burdens too painful to even mention that have left other churches in a similar state of disrepair.
I am reminded of the story of a great saint. God called upon Saint Francis to rebuild his church. Saint Francis answered this call. He first tried to repair the churches on the physical level.
But, this was not enough.
Saint Francis then repaired the churches on the spiritual level by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ through his missionaries. And, the people responded to this message. The churches were filled again.
What will it take to rebuild our churches today?