From the Crisis "weekly" e-letter:

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23 Ways To Identify a Faithful Parish

1. There is at least one daily Mass. Obviously, if a parish shares a
pastor with other parishes, this may not always be possible. But
barring that, a parish needs to offer daily Mass.

2. Confession is offered for a set time... not just "by appointment
only." The absolute importance of that sacrament must not be

3. The tabernacle is inside the main church in a prominent place.
It's always frustrating to have to play "Where's Jesus?" when you
walk into a parish for the first time. I recall once when visiting a
church I'd never been in before, I confusedly genuflected to
everything from the cantor to a statue of St. Therese before I
figured out where the tabernacle was.

4. The church has kneelers. Period.

5. The church doesn't have a sign in the front that describes itself
as a "Catholic Community." I know, this one seems petty at first, but
it tends to be true. If a parish has an objection to the word
"church," that's a good indication that a larger problem exists. And
if that parish magnifies the nonsense with a sign that says something
like, "An Open, Inclusive Community of Catholic Christians Who Care
and Share," stop, turn around, run.

6. As you enter the church, you see people in the pews in prayer or,
at least, reverent silence. If, on the other hand, it looks like
social time down at the bingo parlor, that's a bad sign.

7. The Mass is not intentionally altered through the use of
inclusive language.

8. The Mass is said according to the General Instruction of the
Roman Missal and the instructions of the local bishop. Improvisation
is great in jazz. Mass isn't jazz.

9. The gospel is not being read, nor the homily given, by someone
other than a priest or deacon.

10. Latin has pride of place in the Mass. It's right there in the
documents of the Second Vatican Council. That should be reflected in
the liturgy itself.

11. The bread for the Eucharist isn't made with added ingredients
not allowed by the Church. Honey, for example.

12. The liturgical music focuses on God, not the community. We are
there, after all, to worship Him, not ourselves. And there's never a
good reason to sing songs about bridges over troubled waters. You can
do that at home, Mr. Garfunkel.

13. Extraordinary ministers do not outnumber the parishioners.
There's a reason, after all, that we refer to them as EXTRAORDINARY
ministers. We only use them when there are too many people for the
priest and deacon to handle.

14. If you're able to find the mission statement of the parish (it's
often carried in the bulletin), make sure it says something about
fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church.

15. And while you're thumbing through the bulletin, see if there are
other good groups there, like the Knights of Columbus, Legion of
Mary, St. Vincent de Paul, and Holy Name Society. A faithful Bible
study group is also a great sign.

16. The parish offers some form of Eucharistic adoration.

17. The parish has an active Pro-Life ministry, as well as a
ministry that cares for the poor.

18. The priest wears his collar. Now, obviously, if you see your
local pastor jogging one morning, he's not going to be wearing his
clericals. But a priest should generally look the part. It's an
important witness to the secular world and a sign that he recognizes
the great value of his own vocation.

19. The pastor isn't afraid to preach on the tough issues: abortion,
divorce, contraception, cloning, etc. That's not to say that every
homily should cover those topics. But a priest should truly believe
the Church's teaching and defend them without pause.

20. The parish's marriage preparation program includes instruction
in Natural Family Planning (NFP). And if someone involved in the
program describes NFP as "the rhythm method," go immediately limp and
drop to the ground. With luck, he'll think you passed out and will
take you to the emergency room, far, far away from that parish.

21. The church has a vibrant religious education program for both
children and adults based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
You might also try to find out who's involved in the program and
where they received their own formation.

22. The church's Website doesn't link to dissident groups like Call
to Action, Voice of the Faithful, or Catholics for a Free Choice.

And finally...

23. If there's a literature rack in the church, look at the
publications the parish is carrying. Dissident magazines or
newspapers tend to go hand in hand with a dissident parish. On the
other hand, should you see a copy of Crisis in the rack, join that
parish. The pastor is clearly a man of great taste and refinement.


does this parish actually exist? mine has most of these elements but not all. we have a lot of "extraordinary" ministers of the Eucharist. at least they don't grab the ciborium (sp?) off the altar before everyone has had communion. the bit about the mission statement is really good. it can be very telling.

A big HEE to #20. There are few three-word-phrases that get a rise out of me like "the rhythm method." Gah!!!

the summa mamas' parish pretty much fits the bill, so y'all come on by for a visit!

Our parish has lots of extrordinary ministers but has a lot of people. It is charismatic and the one thing I would add to the list which attracted me to our parish is : the people are ther because they want to be. They mean it when they say "come, Lord Jesus." I have to admit that scared me at first. 'These people are praying for the end of the world to come right now,' I thought. After awhile I realized it was I would needed to change, not them.

Hmmmm...well, our parish does MOST of these things. I'm not sure about #10 -- our priests often use a Latin term and then define it for the congregation during homily, and we have several ministry programs titled in Latin words, but "prominent"-- ? I guess I wouldn't say that.

Then there is #14. Our mission statement is "Go!" That's it. Just one word. Fr. W. wanted to make it memorable and meaningful. But "Go!" means a lot of different things, including "Go! Feed My Sheep!" and "Go! Out into the world to do the work of an evangelist!" and "Go! Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, minister to the sick, etc." I think Fr. W would say that fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church goes without saying, but it isn't in the Mission Statement in those exact words.

Do you have anything like this to help find a solidly Catholic school for children, either elem or high school??

I would love to read that!



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