You can see the decline in all age groups among Roman Catholics. It is dramatic.
So what do we make of this all? I am no guru of the Gallup but it is clear that this is a major problem among Roman Catholics. And judging from the statistics that Lutheran denominations report, we are in no better shape. We could spend out time excusing, explaining, and extrapolating reasons for all of this -- and the reasons for this are legion -- but I have one question. When did the Church settle for occasional attendance? Since when did occasional participation in the sacramental life of the Church become acceptable, tolerable, or "enough?"
Maybe it is high time we started saying (with a straight face) to people -- God's expectation is that all His people will be in His House on His day (the only exception being when too ill to attend, when forced by employment to work, or when attendance is a virtual impossibility (for whatever honest reason). Is that so hard? Hey people, I know you think it is optional, but it ain't. Church attendance is the ordinary expectation of all God's people, all the time. So, quit the whining, excuses, and justifications... and get you but into Church. Period.
It is demeaning when Pastors have to act as if they were parents to adults who should know enough for themselves... it is a waste of time better spent doing other things when Pastors, Boards of Elders, and others in the parish are forced to be the consciences of those irregular in attendance. Yes, I know people may treat you badly, no one really noticed or cared you have been gone for seven weeks, and when you did come back people made a joke out of how long you had been gone... I know... BUT we attend not for people but for the Lord, whose grace is His gift to those who heed His invitation, whose Word is worthy of our presence and our ears, and who has earned the right to expect us to be there where He is. Hey, get to church. You know you should. God does too!