Recently, one magazine scored the voting records of members of Congress versus their professed religion. How do you think the “Catholics” did? Sadly, the most pro-abortion of the Christians were those who also said they were Catholic. In fact, the author of the article observed that the best way to get Congress back to its Christian roots was to remove the Catholics! With Pelosi, Kerry and others leading the way, is it really any surprise? Well, it was to me. I was hoping a less vocal majority existed. Evidently, it does not.
Thinking about this further, we really shouldn’t be surprised. Church attendance in England alone is down to 10%. America is higher but trending the same way. We can blame the bishops. We can blame Roe vs. Wade, MTV, or our high standard of living. Obama is still blaming Bush for everything; maybe its his fault too?
Nope, these are simply overused excuses. As with everything else we still need to look at the breakup in the American family, right? Wait, most of the lax Christians I know have families and love their kids. Karl Rahner tried to convince nonbelievers of the completeness of Christianity. How did we lose so many in our own faith? I seem to be continually reminded by the story of Cardinal Roncalli walking through a war-torn Europe after WWII and noting how Christian nations came to bring such devastation upon each other and that if he became Pope he would call a council. He did! As Pope John XXIII, he called a council to bring the Church back to its roots. We don’t have to look simply at Congress these days to see we still have work to do in this regard. Looking around our society, even our neighborhoods these days, it is obvious that WE still have work to do.
Stealing the term from a priest in our parish, simply being “pew potatoes” isn’t getting it done. The days where our bishops could go it alone to sway the masses are over. Vatican II renewed the role of the laity in the Church. Sadly, the laity dropped the ball. We allowed outside influences without Christ centered in their goals chip away at our faith. Secularism, modernism, feminism, sexual deviances have all looked to advance their cause through attacking the Church. These attacks were not soundly stopped at the door by the faithful. Of course, we can find some justice in these causes, but the agendas were of man, not God. We need to ask ourselves whether the causes that we are so passionate about have at their foundation the reality of bringing glory to God’s kingdom.
The Daily Herald once ran an article regarding author Anne Rice leaving the Church. She said she was tired of being “anti-gay, anti-feminist, and anti-artificial birth control.” We failed Ms. Rice. Our personal gospels did not lead her to see that Jesus would have broken bread with homosexuals, but not condone their actions. St. Thomas called Mary Magdalene “the Apostle to the Apostles.” It is amazing to many historians that Biblical accounts of the Resurrection allowed a woman to witness the empty tomb first. And again, Jesus would have embraced the mother who gave up the life of her child- but never would have condoned the taking of life for convenience sake. We cannot let others take the faith and politicize it. The Church at its roots is not “anti-” anything. It is pro-God!
Jesus preached against wealth and social norms for our focus should not be on material goods; rather, our values should bring us closer to God. Those “WWJD” buttons and bracelets of decades past should still be at our heart today. Discerning what Jesus would do should continue to be our guidepost. Evangelization is not just the job of the pastor. We all need to engage each other to remind us of the Catholicity of the world around us. We all need to reflect on living the Gospel in our daily lives, not just for an hour on Sunday. We need to teach our young men that praying and giving thanks is great. We need to open the Bible at home – and not let it gather dust on the living room table or shelf.
The Knights of Columbus asks men to carry their Rosary beads – not as an ornament but to keep a reminder to pray with them at all times. Prayer cards in our wallets also enable us to be remindful of the rightful place that dollar we are spending should have in our lives. Let us only use that dollar in a way that honors the Gospel. Mindful spending of our dollars can change society. As Catholics, our actions and prayers need to evangelize the world around us today, which, in turn, will be a start in leading change in the Oval Office and Congress tomorrow.