Why is this plea urgent?
Because we are on the precipice of events that will demand heroic virtue from faithful Catholics; and the grace to undertake heroic virtue comes primarily, for most Catholics, from their parish Church.
Why is this plea dire?
Because whether or not it is heeded will determine whether souls created by God and destined to spend eternity with Him will reach this end or will instead endure never ending fire.
This is not a compilation of advice on how to be the ideal, saintly, and extremely successful Pastor. I am not qualified to give that advice.
This is a delineation of what I deem to be simple necessities, for pastors must not block, (and they must strive to prevent from being blocked under their roof), the channels of grace through which sanctification flows. By depriving their flocks of these channels, Pastors deprive them of the grace they will need merely to stand in the days soon to come, thereby becoming the very cause of their downfall in the same degree that a doctor who refuses to treat his patients can be guilty of causing of their illness. And so, dear Pastors, strive not to neglect these Twelve Necessities.
- Do not permit your Church to be dominated by chatter before or after (or, obviously, during) Mass. These are times for silence. The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of a Catholic’s life; and the prayerful preparation for it as well as the intimate 15 minutes in prayer of thanksgiving spent with His substantial presence is the means by which the graces from it are appropriated.
- Your doors must be open for people to come in and pray. It may be excusable to lock them at night (but please consider always leaving them open. God will reward you.), but not during the daylight hours. It is of no consequence how unsafe the neighborhood is; if you must strip your Church of anything that can be stolen, then so be it. You cannot deprive your flock of the opportunity to be with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
- Provide a daily Mass that is open to working parishioners (preferably and usually meaning one each day either no later than 7:10 am or no earlier than 5:30pm) if there are not others nearby that are thus accessible. Whether or not you think they will come does not matter; they need the opportunity.
- You need not constantly moralize, but each and every one of your parishioners must at least know what is required of him to be in a state of grace. This can in part be done by putting large stacks of a good Examination of Conscience at the doors and taking note of them in a homily or announcement.
- Announce the norms for the reception of Holy Communion at least at Christmas, Easter, Weddings, and Funerals. To fail to do so is to encourage acts of sacrilege.
- Do not permit your music director to choose songs that are so silly as to barely be acceptable for a kindergarten class. Favor traditional hymns, and carefully permit new ones that are appropriate: sufficiently solemn, serious, and orthodox.
- Liturgical silliness, effeminacy, or childishness of any sort are essentially acts of hatred against the grown men of your congregation; with them you drive away from the sacraments all but the most perseverant devout men. Permit none of it. For example, never tell your congregation as Mass begins that they must greet those next to them, or raise their hands in prayer. No foolish tunes for the sung prayers of Mass (i.e. the Lord’s Prayer). No displaying the Parish 1st grade class’ artwork in the sanctuary. No Blues Clues homilies. No joke readings. No liturgical dancing. (Just to name a few violations of this necessity.)
- In some way; either by announcement, or sign on the door, or some other strategy, remind people to turn off their cell phones.
- Going to Mass must not be an occasion of sin for the male members of your flock. You should not permit immodest dress in Church. A gentle reminder in the bulletin or near the door of the need to be modest in Church would be a good idea.
- Provide significant and regular confession times, and always without fail be in the confessional during those advertised hours, whether or not you think anybody will show up.
- Say the black, do the red (whether at the Altar or in the Confessional). Anything more (or less) is from the evil one. Pray for the seventh Gift of the Holy Spirit, and the reverence with which you celebrate Mass will be evident.
It would be good to do much more; host perpetual adoration, organize prayer vigils outside the local abortion mill, feed the hungry, have Legion of Mary groups, host Bible studies, encourage community, ensure your Liturgies are permeated with a sense of the sacred in every respect, have daily benedictions and novenas, etc! But I will grant that you may not necessarily be condemned for neglecting some of these pursuits. But I cannot so comfortably grant that with the aforementioned twelve.
Let your own personal Eucharistic devotion be the center of your life. Consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary and enshrine her as the Queen and Mother of your parish and of yourself. Then know that you have absolutely nothing to fear.
A final note to those reading this who are not priests: I have written this in blunt and strong terms because this is indeed a dire and an urgent issue; not because I desire to judge, criticize, or imply there is culpability on any priest in particular. They were called by Christ and have given up their lives to bring you the sacraments. They are attacked by demons more viciously than you could imagine. With a word from their lips, almighty God is made physically present on the altar and the most heinous sins are forever annihilated from your soul. Pray for them, fast for them, and do not judge them or gossip about them.