These days again, I had occasion to share with older parents about their pain over adult children who do not practice the faith of their upbringing. This tragedy of estrangement is nothing new, not even for the "good old days", when sometimes even within the rural or small town parish atmosphere, for whatever reason, a grown child might show up at Mass on Sunday so as to avoid criticism, but without really participating or investing anything of self in that attendance. It seems more frequent today, however, and more identifiable because of social mobility: the factor to consider being that number of children who leave home for college or a job opportunity and essentially never return to the neighborhood or parish where they grew up. They are on their own, far from home and supporting community, and many quickly abandon entirely the practice of their faith. A Georgetown study quoted in a book I am reading claims only 16% of post-Vatican II adults (born after 1961) attend Mass weekly. I have heard Father Robert Barron say in his videos that the largest religious body in the United States is made up of former Catholics.
The situation is certainly scandalous, but I am urged to ask again why it is so, especially feeling I owe a better explanation to the question as it arises from good parents' pain. How can people so easily abandon something like the Catholic faith, if as in the case of the parents I am talking about their children were indeed brought up in a faith-filled home? How can you cut yourself loose from God, Who out of His great love created and saved us? What washes out or blots out, what smothers the sense of the transcendent which was indeed palpable in these good homes?
Up until now I did not make much of those "man-on-the-street" videos, like one I saw from Ireland, where many who said they no longer practiced their faith cited science and the sophistication of the modern age as reasons for rejecting their childhood training in the faith. I'll grant you a certain pride or "intellectual" pride and crass materialism as things to turn one's head. For indeed to believe you need to be humble and not caught up in those things alone which you can quantify with your hand, tongue or eye. But are people really that brainless as to put faith in a scientific community which would sell off its own grandmother to gain recognition and more money for questionable, even frivolous research which knows no boundaries, Dr. Frankenstein?
It is hard not to draw the conclusion that our Western world is once again on the brink of total eclipse, as it was when Arianism ran rampant or when much of thought was tainted with the bazaar myths of Gnosticism. Has our world, at least in terms of its ordinary reflexes, not succumbed to the propaganda of atheism or of some sort of godless materialism? The follies of Bing-Bang and unsubstantiated Evolution theories continue to hold sway, untenable as they are, often based on lies and manipulation of data as they are, seemingly only to spite God and deprive Him of His creative will and existence.
I surely hope that home-schooling can save more than a few of our next generations for God. Are we again at a point where we need to pray harder for another St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica, who will turn their backs on a world in shambles and begin through a rule of life to reclaim the world for civilization? I am glad about all the upbeat people out there who see signs of hope: small colleges with great books curricula and what not. At the same time I fear that National Geographic and the Discovery Channel play too big of a part in forming hearts and minds. The public school and university system is too jaded and Hollywood and Co. too intolerant. We need to take them all back a few notches.
This weekend, home in the States for annual vacation, I celebrated my first parish liturgies with the new English texts of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. The parish is familiar and so to me the change for the better by comparison with last year is strikingly evident. More needs to be done, surely, and on many fronts if we are to save our children from the insipid bogs of "political correctness" and that 84% who choose to sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, as if Christ our Light had not already won the victory which gives us hope of life forever in God.
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI