Historically, in Medieval Europe, The Church was the centre of the community, its backbone, its cornerstone, its foundation. All of the businesses helped build, sustain, & support The Church; & likewise The Church supported the community & the community, the parishioners, were The Church. We are all part of The Church, The Body of Christ, and we must all work in unison, like each system of the body, to remain in good health. The Church employed the stone masons, the glass-workers, the metal forgers, the carpenters, the tailors, seamstresses, Musicians & artists, etc. in the building, maintaining, & operating of The Church; in return The Church housed them, & made sure they were fed; The Church employed farmers to grow food for The Church, the builders & workers, & in return The Church provided fields, equipment, & housing for them–The Church was the main employer in those days.
And look at people’s lives back then! Read how they spoke of The Church. The Church was a major part of their lives, they prayed often and many attended Mass daily; people promoted chastity, charity, duty, fidelity, & faith; they honestly & wholeheartedly believed in The Mass, The Eucharist, the Saints, these were not tired old stories to them, they lived it, they saw it amongst them–we can see it amongst us too! We can feel the transubstantiation, we can experience the miracles, and we can strive to be saints.
Why did so many people attend daily mass, regularly go to confession, & were involved in The Church, when so few today do? What changed?
As noted, back then people lived close to The Church, they worked close to The Church, & they lived & worked WITH The Church: The Church was their community’s centre.
This can give us insight as how to recreate this sense of religious community, how to better integrate the community with The Church: The Church was the centre of the community, all of the community revolved around The Church.
That means that the way to recreate this deep bond with The Church, this deep passion for The Faith, The Church must also be the community centre. It must be a place where everyone gathers often, perhaps even daily, to celebrate en mass, & The Mass is a reverent & solemn celebration.
The Church should be a place that people want to come to, that they want to spend all of their free time at, that they want to work at, that they want to dedicate their entire lives to; be it as laity or in the Religious life. We hear all the time about how there is a lack of people choosing the Religious vocation these days, how the church is so low on priests, monks & nuns–why is that? Why are young people these days not inspired to follow the call to religious vocation? Could it be that since their community, their life, is not centred around the beauty & solemnity of The Church, that not seeing that beauty, they are not being inspired to seek a religious life. They must be shown that beauty, and let it call them to either a religious life in the sacrament of marriage as laity, or the great call to serve The Church in the religious vocations. It is hard for people to be inspired by something they are not acquainted with, they cannot be inspired unless they witness the beauty of The Church & the Religious Community.
If someone wants to have a picnic, The Churchyard should be the best place for that, if they want to play, like in a park, The Churchyard should be the best place for that, if people want to dance, sing, make music & art, The Church should be the place for that. If people want to live close to The Church, within walking distance, they should be able to, if they want to work for The Church, they should be able to. The Church should allow for & inspire people to integrate their lives with The Church, to make themselves part of The Church. The Church doesn’t have to struggle with society, The Church can be society; The Church doesn’t have to struggle with the secular life, The Church can inspire the secular life to be a religious & sacramental secular life, just as the laity are called to make the secular life be.
This can be achieved easily, The Church just has to realise that it is the community’s centre.
– Jack Danya Kemplin