Jesus gives us the Parable in which the King sends the invitation the wedding feast of his son and many make up excuses to beg out of the Banquet. Apparently they have other obligations more important and pressing, they insult the Kings servant and even kill some of them.  The King, infuriated, kills them and then destroys their cities. Not giving up and tenaciously persistent, the King sends out more servants, but this time he goes out to the hedge groves and allies and brings them in to the banquet. One is not properly dressed and has no justification; he is cast out of the Banquet hall. Jesus ends with these stark words: “Many are called but few are chosen.”  Parables of Jesus are human stories with divine messages. They challenge us to leave our complacency and to follow Jesus all the more authentically.

Let us look objectively at the society and the Catholic Church today and see where we are at. True there are a big number of Catholics, at least “baptized Catholics”, more than a billion. However, how many are really living out their faith.

Being a priest for more than 28 years and having worked in various countries—Europe, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and USA I would like to make these observations as to the reasons why so many Catholics, like the Parable above just cited, have almost countless excuses for simply not coming to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which in terms of the Parable is bowing out of the Wedding Banquet of the King and His Son!

Invite even from the streets!
This pastoral observation will serve to help us who are laboring strenuously in the Vineyard of the Lord to work zealously but in the right direction to save souls for the Eternal King.   In other words for us to bring back the wandering and lost souls we must know them, the reason why they have left and give a remedy or solution to the problem. Of course a deep reading of Pope Francis’
“Joy of the Gospel” will be of immense help in our work in bringing back the wandering sheep into the fold.   Remember the challenging words of Jesus, the Good Shepherd of the flock and our Model and example: “The harvest is rich, but the laborers are few.”  

Not properly dressed for the Wedding Feast!
Following are reasons why the sheep have wandered away from the flock—why these have left the practice of the faith and reception of the life-giving Sacraments!

1.    BAD EXPERIENCE.   Some wandering Catholics complain of having left the Church because they had an ugly experience with some other catholic that deeply hurt him. Priests (themselves), Deacons, Parish Secretaries, catechists, and simply practicing Catholics who have given bad example can alienate other Catholics that might be fragile or weak in the faith. A harsh and cutting word, a snide remark, a sarcastic gesture, being aloof and cold, a sharp rebuke—any one of these gestures done to a fragile soul could be the last straw that broke the camel’s back! This could be sufficient to expel this person from the practice of the faith. How to remedy this fatal flaw? Kindness and charity! Saint Augustine was once asked three times on what should be practiced towards others and the great saint said these words: Kindness, Kindness, and once again Kindness! Saint Francis de Sales coined a classic:  “You can catch more flies with a tea spoon of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.”
Catholic asleep at Mass!

2.    SCANDAL IN THE CHURCH.   It cannot be side stepped the painful and true reality of scandals in the Church that have been brought to light, especially over the past 10 to 15 years, that those who have chosen to serve the Lord as priests, some Religious and even Bishops have failed the Lord! Instead of giving example as Good Shepherd to the Sheep have been transformed into ravenous wolves to the flock! Obviously this scandal pierces the Sacred Heart of the Good Shepherd and has wreaked havoc in the flock. What can we say to repair for and to remedy such a serious blow to the Church? First, we beg for pardon and forgiveness to the world at large as the past recent Popes have done clearly and publically. Also, we must pray for future priests, but only those who are firmly committed to celibacy 100%, to love for Jesus as the center of their lives and to a fiery apostolic zeal to save souls and to go in search for the lost sheep.
Addictions-- internet!

3.    DISTRACTIONS IN THE MODERN WORLD.   On one occasion a Pastor came from Africa to the USA and he was asked what he thought was the greatest impediment in USA for the spreading of the Word and the Kingdom and the African Pastor, even without much thought, blurted out one word: DISTRACTIONS!  Interesting observation from a foreigner! What exactly did he mean? The following: T.V., radio, sports, movies, parties and picnics, the Mode, the Internet and the Electronics media, casinos and horse-races and gambling, and finally: “It is Miller time!” Not that all of these pursuits and entertainments are down- right sinful. However, how easy it is to be so totally absorbed and immersed in these diversions that on Sunday Holy Mass has been forgotten or relegated to a secondary place of importance. As one well-known priest put it:  “In the USA Sundays have become like another Saturday.”
Couples living together in sin!

4.    IMMORAL LIFE-STYLE.  Frequently disgruntled and angry Catholics will point their condemning finger of judgment against the Catholic Church for the church’s many failures, but in the heart of hearts of all too many today there is a serious personal problem. It is this: an inability to come to terms with and live out the demanding sexual morality that the Church has taught the past 2000 years! Our Lady of Fatima said in 1917 that many marriages are bad, modes will enter the world (most likely referring to dress codes) that will gravely offend God; finally, Our Lady said that most souls are lost and go to hell because of sins against the virtue of purity. With respect to leaving the Church, Mass and the Sacraments, many young people (and some not so young!!!) have decided to simply live together in free union or to simply have a civil-marriage. In the eyes of Jesus and His Bride the Church this is objectively wrong and choosing to live in a permanent state of mortal sin. This being the case, this couple has willfully severed themselves from the life-giving Vine. Jesus said: “I am the Vine and you are the branches; my Father cuts off the branches that do not bear fruit.” (Jn. 15) These couples, due their living condition that they freely chose, can no longer receive Jesus, the Bread of Life, in Holy Communion. This being the case, when going to Holy Mass and Communion time has arrived, many other people are getting up to receive Holy Communion and they are forced to stay in the pew—like spiritual “bench-warmers” (Sports image) and watch the others receive Jesus, the living Bread who came down from heaven to give us life and life in abundance. In time, feeling uncomfortable not being able to receive, this couple decides to either leave the Church or possibly go to some Protestant Church, where they can have free access to receiving  in the Communion service that may be available once a month. “Bye, bye Catholic church!  Welcome Protestant Church!” A possible remedy?  Why not invite this estranged couple to meet with a priest who could outline the conditions to have their marriage blessed in the Church so that they can be in full-communion with the Church. Also, invite them to some dynamic and well-prepared weekend marriage retreat to get the ball rolling down the right hill!!!
Honey, come' on!  Let's go to Mass!!!

Conclusion, we have just explained a few reasons for the enormous exodus from the Catholic Church in the past few decades. Our intentions is with this article to encourage fervent and zealous followers of Jesus to seek out these lost sheep and bring them back to the arms of the Good Shepherd. God-willing another article will follow to explain other reasons why many leave the Catholic Church and how we can bring them back to the loving embrace of the Father!