Nothing else matters. Without faith, we have nothing. And yes, there is a crisis of faith today in the Catholic Church. After Easter, the priest leads the congregation in a renewal of their baptismal vows and attempts to spell out what we, as Catholics, hold to be the crux of our faith. I wonder sometimes if we really reflect on what we hold to be the basis of our faith.
We number worldwide somewhere near 1.3 billion Catholics. Over 40% of the total Catholic population now lives in Latin America. Europe continues to lose its Catholics with approximately 23% still claiming to be of the Catholic faith and North America is listed at 7.3%. How many Catholics actually practice their faith – a whole different question? As of February 2013, the Catholic population of the United States was listed at 78.2 million people with only 23.4% of these “in name only” Catholics attending mass on a weekly basis. Church attendance is many times gathered through surveys where people tend to exaggerate their responses. If one stopped in a Catholic church on either Christmas or Easter, one would get the impression that the Catholic faith was strong and on the upswing. If one stopped a week later, seating would be easily available and the number of people in attendance at about 30% of the prior week. One recent survey found that non-practicing Catholics will never admit to a change in their religious status. They may have never been in a church in years but they still report their religion as Catholic.
As my old college professor once said “people do what they see value in.” So why do Catholics not flock to their local church each week to attend mass? I think more and more it is a question of faith. Either they have lost that gift from God or at least it is not as strong as it once was. Part of the reason may be the loss of the Catholic educational system that built on and fortified the faith of the students that attended the schools. The second reason may be the life style changes in our country today. The so-called progressives in our world today tend to emphasize our “sexual freedom” and not being bound by any rules or morals. Maybe this is why the average marriage in America lasts only about 8 years?
I am truly in awe when I read or study the faith of those like Mother Teresa or Father Solanus Casey. So simple, but with such great faith. I don’t think education has much to do with faith. If education were directly related to faith then some of our most educated people would be the most religious. But I think that faith, once instilled in us, must be fostered to grow or it will die and fade away. If we never pray, never read any books on our faith like the bible, never attend mass, never do good works, we lose that faith and it is hard to get it back. What was the old saying: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”