The following comment and question came in from a reader and presents a very soul-searching insight.
I am a Catholic in my mid thirties, raising a family and faithfully attending Mass. But I must admit I have some concern that the Church is missing the mark in reaching out to people my age and younger. It seems that all the concerns of the Church are about internal things like translations and where tabernacles should be. Don’t get me wrong, as a faithful Catholic those things are important to me. But these discussions take all our time, and, meanwhile, the world around us gets more and more secular. Many young people I know are practical atheists; God and the Church aren’t even on their radar. Yet we continue to go on and on with our internal preoccupations. Any comments?
Yes, this is a very important insight. There is always the temptation for any organization with humans involved to become primarily inward-looking and to lose sight of its essential mission. Obviously our fundamental mission is to announce Jesus Christ, to go to all the nations and teach them what the Lord Jesus taught for our salvation. We are to bring people into living, conscious contact with Jesus Christ; to bring them into a transformative relationship with Him through Word, Sacrament, and witness. But too easily we can spend all our time consumed with internal procedures and policy, debates about furniture and buildings, etc.
As you point out, some attention has to be paid to internal issues; there can be some very important theological and faith-related issues in such details. But the danger is that this becomes all-consuming. Meanwhile we have lost the culture around us, and even more sadly, many indviduals.
What to do? I would answer that we as a Church should continue the very discussion you have begun. As we both seem to agree, the answer is not simply to disregard internal issues, but rather to continue to summon the Church to her fundamental mission. Your insight is powerful and is a profound call to awakening. If we do not listen to your wake-up call, we risk the proverbial fate of “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” Some will counter that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church, hence we could never be the Titanic. True, but no such promise is given to our western world, which increasingly has lost its way through secularism. Souls are being lost and error is spreading. We have to renew the good fight and take our message back out into the world as never before. That is one hope that underlies both this blog and the fundamental question asked by our Archbishop: Longing for something? Maybe it’s God!
Fr. Robert Barron struggles with the very problem you have raised in the following video—one of his best commentaries ever. He also has proposed some solutions.
One Reply to “Back to Basics!”
Msgr Pope very good insight and video. John your concerns are very important, but the Catholic faith is like no other, and many people believe that the church is out of sink with the secular world. We are the only church that traces our worship, custom, tradition back 2000 years. We are a church of the written word and oral tradition inspired by God. I am in my mid forties and yes I used to say things like its boring, sitting, standing, kneeling and of course long Sermons, But I must say that the church truly need to go outside with more evangelizing to those mid 20s, 30s and younger. I do not believe that the church is missing the mark moreover the church is right on the mark. These eternal things that seem boring during mass are the core of our faith and anyone who really desire God will find Him in those “eternal things” The question is how the church brings that mark to the youth, in a way of interest to put a fire in you that would keep you coming. You are faithful and I know with such a profound awareness you would be great in taking discernment toward the reaching out to people your age or better. Pray and by all means please keep coming there really is a place in the church for the youth! Thank you for sharing
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