Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Evangelization and the Year of Faith

I have no doubt that Andrea Tornielli's blog in Italian on the first sinodal discussions and comments on the topic of the new evangelization ( see SACRI PALAZZI) will be rehashed time and again in English. I just hope that the Synod itself can get beyond his read of what is being discussed. 

The "Pew Survey" people are out there with their bad news as well concerning the state of religion in America and how little the dwindling numbers of Catholics in the U.S. understand about the demands of being faithful to the Gospel and one with Christ, the Redeemer of Mankind. 

I really don't think that mainline Protestantism is in a free-fall. Even a 100 years ago on the Dakota prairie, not few farm families which called themselves Protestant, were not baptized and had never held a hymnbook in their hands. Who of my parents' generation would have considered themselves as "Nones" (the old expression: unchurched) and yet there were lots of them. Three of my uncles by marriage were unbaptized when they married my mother's older sisters. In my first years as a priest at home, I encountered many more such folk: thirty years ago they were legion. I really doubt if much has changed.

What has changed is the loss of shame about being a non-practicing Catholic. Years ago you didn't call yourself a fallen-away Catholic, if that is what you were. I doubt seriously if many real PRACTICING Catholics today favor either abortion or same-sex marriage... the word is "practicing". Years ago, if you didn't practice, well, then you weren't or you were fallen-away and the family still hoped to bring you back.

I hope that Tornielli and company study the Synod interventions and move beyond typical European caricatures of the Don Camillo vs. Pepino world of Church, which is fun until Pepino's kids don't get it anymore and refuse to go a round with the new priest in town. The problem is, and world-wide, that no one seems to realize that the fight is to reclaim home and hearth. The struggle is to gift children already from mother's womb with a sense of the presence of God, of the closeness of Jesus, a Baby in His and our Mother Mary's arms, a man like us in all things but sin, Who did not refuse Cross and Grave, for the sake of claiming for us a victory over sin and death.

As I say, I hope we can expect more from Synod reporting than Tornielli's microwave pizza claimed from the back of the fridge none too soon!

We live in hope!

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