We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics. My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”
Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe
The Age of Apathy and Ignorance
Realizing that we are the last of the Catholics in our family, last week my wife and I donated our massive family Bible to our church library. Our splendid four children, two sons-in-laws and two daughter-in-laws have no interest in Catholicism, and our ten remarkable grandkids have little (if any) knowledge of Christianity.
Several years ago, our adorable six-year-old granddaughter was visiting us. At breakfast one morning when I mentioned I had trouble understanding the Buddhist religion, she told me all about when Buddha was under a tree he had this revelation that he taught to his followers, etc., etc. I then asked her what she knew about the 5,000 year history of the Jews and about Jesus Christ. With the truth of youth, she said, “I haven’t the foggiest.”
Our two generations following us are all admirable individuals—intelligent, well-educated, loving one another and their neighbors, thoughtful, sensitive, good and popular citizens in their communities and enjoyable company. They have made themselves healthy and financially successful. They are all good kids, of whom I am busting with pride. Yet I am concerned about their satisfied two-dimensional lives, devoid of religion.
St. Augustine compared religion as a bridge to a higher location. To me, I relate it to an experience I had years ago when I would take early morning swims in the clear sea at the Costa Brava. I enjoyed it as a refreshing way of starting the day. Then one morning I had my initial experience with a snorkeling mask. I was stunned to see clearly the beauty of the under-water world. Before, I had been content with skimming along the surface, ignorant of the sea treasures below me. Now, thanks to my mask, like magic an entire new world opened for me.
I feel that way about my Faith. There are boundless spiritual treasures that Catholicism makes available for me every minute of the day. It gives me the opportunity to view all with new and fresh sight—though the eyes of others, of Christ, of Blessed Mary, and of thousands of saints. This gives meaning, purpose and enjoyment to the hum-drum of life. As the theologian Ewert Cousins wrote, “Theology is concerned with the ultimate level of religious mystery which is even less accessible than the mystery of the physical universe.”
I have the uncomfortable feeling of being a frustrated billionaire who hasn’t figured out how to share his wealth. Without intent, I am a hoarder of spiritual blessings I want to share. My failure to pass my appreciation of religion on to my children is a puzzlement, and I don’t know the answer. As one who has experienced this feeling, Kenda Creasy Dean, professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, said she has spend the most depressing summers of her life, interviewing teens about their faith.
As an interesting tid-bit, I read this in the North American Almanac 1929: “He who fights religion and its institutions kicks at the stars. He who incurs religion’s enmity must be a brave fighter for he may have 1,000 hands of logic, yet cannot lay low the one hand of religious prejudice.”
You readers, give me your thoughts and advice. I welcome it!
– “Twelve instant ways of beautifying the Novus Ordo” by Monica Miller. PhD., in the August/September issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review.
– “A Tree Full of Monkeys – Why The Soul Needs Silence” by John Garvey, in Commonweal, July 16