Someone said to him, “Sir, will there be only a few saved?” He said to them, “Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.” (Luke 13:23-24). Jesus is warning us against complacency and self-righteousness in matters of faith. He prefers the quality of individual’s faith to quantity of followers. In Luke 18:8 Jesus is, similarly, concerned about finding quality of faith at His second coming.
Jesus’ message appeals to our times when multitudes flock to places of worship, but often for selfish motives. Since faith is at its best during worship, this error manifests itself in the selfish manner that is associated with modern worship.
As Vatican council II on the Church in the modern world no. 11 pronounces, “The Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life”.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s liturgical chief, speaks of a “serious, profound crisis” in the liturgy and the Church since the Second Vatican Council. Instead of directing worship towards the adoration of God, the Eucharist has become dominated by human motives such as the community’s celebration of itself.
The Cardinal argues that many Catholics have forgotten that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, identical to the act performed once and for all by Jesus Christ, making present the Sacrifice of the Cross in a non-bloody manner. He is concerned that abuse of the liturgy has led to destruction in doctrine, morals and Church discipline.
“Unfortunately too many priests and bishops treat violations of liturgical norms as something that is unimportant when, in fact, they are serious abuses”, notes Raymond Cardinal Burke, head of the Vatican’s Supreme Court.
At the general papal audience of October 5, 2015, Benedict XVI lamented: “A misunderstanding of the nature of liturgy has led to man putting his own activity and creativity at the heart of Divine worship. Nothing precedes divine worship. By setting God aside, man will end up a slave to material forces, and thus opposed to his dignity”.
When you lose faith
Loss of faith treats God as a guest in His own house to be entertained with music, dance and drama, rather than the Host offering salvation. Loss of faith seeks deliverance in intercessory prayers and counselling rather than in the Scriptures, Church doctrine and sacramental life.
Loss of faith puts more trust in religious leaders than in God and His Church.
Loss of faith replaces traditional rites, prayers and hymns with those that appeal to worshipers’ sentiments. Loss of faith pursues favors and esteem rather than salvation from divine mercy. Loss of faith ceases to revere the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Worshipers will dare to receive Holy Communion with unconsecrated hands and unrepentant hearts! Loss of faith regards the priest as a mere worshiper the visible Christ bridging the heavenly liturgy and the earthly.
Be prepared to worship
It is imperative that worshipers enter liturgical celebrations with proper preparedness and celebrate them according to the Church’s norms.
Sacraments must be appreciated as important in the life of the Church and of individual faithful. They are efficacious signs of grace (a gift from God), instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.
The visible rites by which they are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1331). All this calls for a renewed catechesis, at all levels.
Worshiping God is the first commandment of God. Only those who worship Him in spirit and in truth will be saved (see John 4:24).
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.” Isaiah 43:1-3