No Challenge, No Catholics

The coddling Christ preached through endless cotton candy (much sugar and hot air) sermons of our times has left our poor Catholics quite uninspired and searching for something; ANYTHING to give them a sense of purpose again — to set their hearts on THE cause that has been divinely hard-wired into us.

 

The “challenge” given to us by the Son of God is: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24).

 

The abandonment, in love, to the Divine Will of God remains our very reason for existence, which was revealed as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but your will be done” (Luke 22:42).  This obedience remains THE way of reversing the curse of the original sin in the Garden of Eden.

 

Compromise, we have come to experience, has been the abysmal failed experiment of the past 40+ years following the Second Vatican Council. Many want to point to “dogmas” and “devotions” as the reason for the mass exodus within the Catholic Church, but it wasn’t until we began to dismiss these pillars that we began to see an epidemic of indifference infiltrate our pews.

 

Below is yet another article throwing light on the essential nature of the situation. 

 

From a recent article by Fr. Eugene Hemrick entitled, “Where Have All the Catholics Gone?”

 

“’If everyone raised Catholic stayed (with their religious affiliation), Catholics would be one-third of the population.’

 

This observation was made by John Green, a senior research fellow and a principal author of the “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” recently conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

 

With Catholic adults presently comprising 25% of the American population when they should be 33% of it, we need to ask: Why are so many Catholics leaving?

 

Researchers found that the one reason the Catholic Church was so strong was because of the creed. Our clear-cut understanding of and commitment to what we believe not only attracts people to Catholicism, but keeps Catholics in the Church.

 

As much as we sometimes resisted being a dogmatic Church, our dogma was and is the ballast that keeps us balanced and strong.

 

If we focus on this finding alone, it gives us several reasons why we might be losing Catholics.

 

Could it be, as the last two popes have pointed out, our present age is becoming increasingly resistant to absolute truths and is moving toward greater relativism?

 

Applying this question to our Church, do we believe in the one true Catholic Church? Does this truth hold strong appeal for us? If not, why remain a Catholic since it then becomes relative to how a religion is seen?

 

Could it be our truths are watered-down and have weakened the beauty and strength of the Church? In the apostolic exhortation On Evangelization in the Modern World, Pope Paul VI points to the bite that truth must possess to be attractive:

 

‘For the Church it is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the word of God and the plan of salvation.’

 

Here we learn that the truth of the Gospel must be upsetting, challenging people to rethink their present values and what inspires them most.

 

Could it be our people want to be challenged and it isn’t happening; that we aren’t making people stop, think and rethink; that the presentation of our beliefs don’t have bite, cutting-edge thinking, or that they don’t reveal deep commitment on the part of those presenting them?

 

No doubt many other reasons exist for the exit of Catholics. Whatever they may be, they come down to one question: ‘Are those who are leaving doing so because they never experienced the backbone of our creed?’”

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6 Responses to No Challenge, No Catholics

  1. Marilyn says:

    Very interesting articles. I found myself inspired by the “Renew” program back in the 80’s. For the first time many Catholics were challenged to have a personal walk with Jesus. I was drawn to this, being a Protestant, as it was familiar to me. Reading the Bible was new to many of my friends and it was exciting to see individuals grow in their trust of our Lord Jesus Christ as they read their Bible. Their faith became real and alive to them.

    For a long time, I saw many of my Catholic friends attend church yet living their lives as if God made no difference. They were only abiding by what they had been taught.
    “take part in the seven sacraments and that’s all you need to be concerned about- attitude.” Perhaps this is why so many left the church during that time….they felt disconnected in some way.

    I believe that the “Renew” program was in response to the many Catholics leaving the church at that time.

    Studying God’s word is always a source of strength. Perhaps, another look at finding ways to encourage people to study God’s word would make their faith more of a reality to them. God’s Word never returns void…as scripture states.

  2. father says:

    Yes, Marilyn, the strengthening of our knowledge of scripture was a necessary step for us as Catholics. However, I believe (which so often happens) the pendulum swung too far away from such treasures as the Sacraments, the saints, sacramentals, the Blessed Mother and the multitude of rich spiritual discliplines of our Catholic Church.

    I believe that is why so many of our Protestant brothers and sisters are embracing more of a sacramental life and looking again at the timeless age-old spiritual disciplines of our 2000+ year old tradition.

    And I know they are longing for a transcendent moral reference point beyond their own pastor’s belief. 38,000 denominations speaks to a need to return to Peter — who is “rock” on which the Son of God built his Church.

    I believe it is a “both-and” rather than an “either-or” when speaking about adding more scripture to the treasures of our Catholic faith.

  3. Mary Smith says:

    First Point…if I may borrow from a well-known bishop

    Being a “product” of that era…We…and I am speaking for those of us from the late 60’s and 70’s DID NOT have a firm foundation in the sacraments…not even the “FEAR FACTOR” of hell…(unless you had my mom!) And even if you did have that the F.F. it was something that eventually was set aside for liberation…libertation for restraint, constraints, traditions, etc. Thus began the downward spin towards idoloizing ourselves…
    BUT…some of us are or have matured…or “hit the wall” …AND found out the hard way that we need structure, we need tradition, we need faith, WE NEED GOD!

    Second Point….

    Those who have continued to “search for the truth” “search for love and acceptance”…have left the Catholic Church OR perhaps this is even more serious than leaving the Catholic Church…have insisted on THEIR CHURCH to become the Polititically Correct Catholic Church…This is the church that welcomes all…AND allows all demnominations to receive the Holy Eucharist….

    Third Point…
    Think about…when was the last time you stood up and shouted
    THANK YOU GOD FOR GIVING ME THE CATHOLIC FAITH??????? OR are your timid…or are you embarassed because you are Catholic????? Have you ever said Grace at McDonalds???? Have you ever prayed the rosary running to catch a plane at O”Hare????

    I wish I could be on fire with the zeal that the apostles had as we read IN SCRIPTURE…AT MASS!!!!!!

    M.S.

  4. John Smith says:

    This idea of speking the Truth – this is certainly what is needed today. When we attempt to dismantle and compartmentalize the faith into a selection of “parts” (so as to be able to present only the most appealing in certain instances) fails in “speaking the Truth.” The Truth is One. The Truth unites us in Christ Jesus for the Truth is the Word of God.

    God is One. Christ is One. We are One in Christ Jesus.

    My own interpretation of what is happening today, alongside, what I believe is the attempt which has been ever-present as a force of the anti-Christ, is the attempt to systematically dismantle the “sequela Christi” (see either JPII’s Catechesi Tradendae or Cardianl Joseph Ratzinger’s “The New Evangelization: Building the Civilization of Love” for mention of this phenomenon in the realm of how we are to catechize).

    In the latter, Ratzinger says: “The Sequela of Christ has a much higher goal: to be assimilated into Christ, that is to attain union with God.”

    And now isn’t this what the Apostle admonishes us to always keep in mind:

    “Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scyth’ian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colosians 3:11)

    We have as our charge, as inheritors of the Gospel via the Apostles, to be instruments of unity, to fulfill Christ’s prayer to the Father in John 17. It is, therefore, not a matter of natural ability towards unity but, instead, super-natural ability, for it is He who unifies, Christ the Lord. May the Holy Spirit who proclaims within us the Gospel of Unity in Jesus Christ come.

    Maranatha!

  5. Gail Helmert says:

    “Could it be” our youth are not being challenged by our Faith Formation (CCD) Programs-are we teaching the “backbone of our CREED?”

  6. mary meyer says:

    What I need to know is, how to make them better when they are satisfyed with sugar coated religion and think they are just fine with it. They never attend mass, and think it”s more important to spend that time haveing a pleasant time with family. After all it”s stressfull to take kids to church. How will God judge them?

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