For some folks, it is a thin line to walk between the notion of quality and the ill-favored view of elitism, or a special-privilege-driven way of being or doing Church.
Often, history has shown the Church is ready to bestow special honors or recognition for generosity with wealth, or with folks who have lots of free time on their hands to help out. In one sense, the squeaky wheel does get the grease–and sometimes that’s unavoidable.
I’ve been accused of elitism for reserving the big Christmas Masses and Holy Week for kids who have a proven track record as servers. Is it elitism to choose girls and boys who know what a thurible is? Or who have a perfect attendance record for the past two or three years? I don’t think so. All altar servers at my parish are called to excellence, knowledge, good attendance, and helpfulness. Those who perform less well self-select out of special involvement. I can only hope I had 110 kids vying for Holy Week spots, their cancelling sports and Easter trips to the grandparents just so they could go to the Easter Vigil.
I believe the Catholic Church can use more believers who are more strongly intentional in their faith lives than they are. What do I mean by that? Relatively speaking, the occasional Massgoer might consider going every Sunday. The non-involved congregant might come early, stay late, pray and sing with gusto. The Sunday-engaged parishioner might consider her or his gifts and discern a path to feed the hungry, tutor a student, or join a choir. You get the picture.
In my mind, the problem is not so much that the Church cultivates an elite, but that large numbers of semi-involved people more or less wash away to leave lots of room for other committed Christians. I see it less than a shiny tower rising up on the plain, and more like the river washing away everything but small islands around scattered trees.