According to stats on the Catholic Church in the United States, there are 74.3 million Catholics in the US. There are an additional 30 million who self identify as former Catholics.
Of the 74.3 million, only 23% go to Mass on any kind of regular basis. Yes, only 23% of those who self identify as Catholics.
I have the following observations:
First, with only 23% participation, the Catholic Church runs a vast array of schools, hospitals, and services for the poorest of the poor. We are able to do a great amount with just 23%. Imagine what could be done with 50%, or 75%, or even 100%. This is chump change, though as the Catholic Church is not primarily a social work or community organizing entity.
No, the Church is first and foremost about an eternal relationship with God and through God, with the rest of the Body of Christ. This is the second and much more important point.
With only 23% bothering to engage in the central tenet of that relationship, the Eucharist, it is easy to say the relationship is severely damaged. If more that 3/4 of the family doesn’t see being with the family as important, then something has gone wrong.
Some want to blame Vatican II. It is a cop out. It allows us to to play the ‘if only’ game. I will agree that tossing most any transcendence from Mass (not call for by Vatican II or in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) has had grave consequences. But more of our problem lies in the tyranny of relativism. We treat faith like we treat so many other things, we cobble together a set of comfortable and convenient premises which allow us to contort reality into what we want it to be, no matter how ridiculous the end product is.
Aided and abetted by liberal clergy who knew better, we have people who say that they are Catholic but are okay with abortion, artificial birth control, not going to Mass, and so on. Severing Mass starves the soul of grace and gives deep root to rebellion in other areas.
Saying I am a Catholic but I rarely if ever go to Mass is like saying ,”I am an athlete even though I do not exercise or play sports…but because I watch sports on TV or play video games, I am an athlete.”
Parishes would do well to at least start doing Mass as the Church intends. You would be surprised at how few do. Transcendence needs to find its home again. Pastors of souls would do well to start challenging the 77% who rarely if practice the faith to practice the faith…starting with calling their people to the Eucharist. We might start with families whose parents who send their children to any Catholic education system (school, High School, PSR/CCD, etc.).
We might fool ourselves into believing God will be happy with whatever we cobble together and call being Catholic… but the Scriptures would certainly counter such approval of self deception.