I mentioned before Bishop Robert Barron’s YouTube video “4 Ways to Grow the Church.” Tired of having to preside over a shrinking Church, he asks every Catholic to invite someone to Mass this year.
We can do this with great trust that we aren’t doing something strange. Here are three reasons to look for hope in the strength of the sacraments in our day.
First: The 21st Century has seen almost nonstop renewal of Sunday Mass.
Last week I shared how statistics support a very different narrative from what the media generally pushes.
In 2001, St. John Paul II made promoting Sunday Masse a top priority for the New Millennium. In 2002, the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal was promulgated. In 2003, John Paul’s Ecclesia de Eucharistia demanded that the Church remember the rule, still in force, that confession is needed before communion. The Bishops followed that up with their document “Happy Are Those Who are Called to His Supper.” Pope Francis stresses the same rule.
In 2004, the Year of the Eucharist was proclaimed. St. John Paul died and Benedict XVI took over, pledging to love Our Lord in the Eucharist by “the correctness of the celebrations” of the Eucharist. In 2006, the reform of the translation of the Mass began. In 2011, English speaking countries began implementing the new missal.
Second:: The renewal of confession is a huge sign of hope.
I’m not the only one who has noticed it: Confession lines are a lot longer than they used to be.
Pope Francis started promoting confession from the beginning of his pontificate, first by going to confession publicly, in full view of photographers, and then created the 24 hours of confession events at parishes worldwide.
In 2002, St. John Paul II said the real crisis in the Church was the crisis of the sense of sin, resulting from the crisis of the sacrament of confession. Today, there are still parishes with few or hard-to-find confessions, but it is more rare.
World Youth Days have had a lot to do with that, with their emphasis on confession. Confession is increasingly a “youth thing,” whether it’s the 300 priests who heard thousands of confessions at the Focus’ SEEK23 conference, or the the 29-year-old priest in Spring, Texas who heard confessions for 18 hours straight last month — just like he did last Easter.
The third sign of hope is the growth of Eucharistic Adoration.
Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration was rare in the 20th century, and in many cases it was forbidden from a mistaken idea that it was only for priests and religious.
But in the 21st century it has undergone enormous growth. In 2005, the exhaustive survey that of realpresence.org listed 715 perpetual eucharistic chapels in the United States. In Early 2020 that number had nearly doubled.
Pope Francis has had a lot to do with this, in his emphasis on the devotion. The new Eucharistic Revival, will likely push numbers higher.
“Eucharistic Adoration is Drawing New Generations of Catholics,” a recent Aleteia story announced. This is true from Harvard to the aforementioned SEEK23 conference. Catholics are more likely than ever to turn to the Eucharist when facing national crises and national elections.
So invite someone to Mass. I once counted the reasons why. Here’s another: You will be part of a worldwide movement of grace.