Why? Why exactly do you go to church?
As far back as I can remember I have attended church most Sundays and sometimes at other feasts too. Over the years I have attended many churches big and small and heard many sermons, some good and memorable and some which put me to sleep as soon as the sound from the pulpit reached my ears - which I understand it travels at the speed of sound.
But, why do I go to church? I suppose it is to be with God. And, being Catholic, to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist. But that's another subject for another time.
The point of this discussion is why people go to church; or to be more precise, why do they not go to church?
In the UK regular church attendance is in decline, and according to various statistics, it is about 5% of the population.
Why? I ask myself and don't seem to hear myself answering.
Is it because people are too busy with their lives, having to work all hours they have to make ends meet, and they have no time to attend church?
Is it because they are too busy enjoying the material things the modern world has to offer to be bothered with spiritual, non-provable, wishy-washy beliefs from a time gone by?
Is it because the message they receive from Christianity is so confused that it has become so unclear almost to be irrelevant to today's modern society?
Speaking for the Catholic church only, their message and teachings on many issues such as marriage and divorce, re-marriage, annulments, homosexuality, contraception, Confession and sin, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, celibacy of priests as opposed to married priests from other denominations joining the Catholic Church; all these issues are so unclear that they not only confuse the congregations but leave many adrift to make up their own rules anyway.
Often you see and hear priests teaching totally contradictory views on the same subject. For example, and this is based on fact, I know of some Catholic priests who openly believe that Christ is not present in the Eucharist, and this is not His body or His blood received at Communion. Yet, these priests, teaching something that is contrary to the Catholic faith, are still in their churches teaching their congregations. No wonder the people in the pews are confused.
No doubt other denominations have their anomalies too. But are these the reasons that church attendances are low and falling; and new vocations are also in continuous decline?
Or is perhaps something more serious and staring us in the face. The elephant in the room we fail to see.
Is it that more and more people simply do not believe in God. They do not believe in a supreme living spiritual Being ruling the universe and what is in it?
A recent survey in the UK discovered that only 28% said they believe in God or a higher spiritual being.
And as more and more people do not believe in God, for whatever personal reasons, and they exclude Him from their lives; He just gives them that freedom of choice and withdraws, leaving them to their own devises.
No wonder the world is in such a state.