Why the world doesn’t take Catholicism seriously

When I travel, I always get asked by parents how they can get their adult children back to church. It’s an epidemic. We know this.We can complain about politics and how we need more preaching from the pulpit. But here is the core problem:

We Catholics don’t look or act any different than non-Catholics.

The question we must answer is “if Catholicism offers a better way, why don’t Catholics’ lives seem any better?”

The incongruity between what we claim to believe and the lives we live is revealing.

This was summed up half a century ago at Vatican II: “One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives.” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 43)

Where the solution will *not* come from.

If you are waiting for the institutional Church to stem the tide and fix this problem, you’re missing the point.

Sure, we need inspirational leadership. We need solid catechesis. We should operate in all things with excellence because “excellence” itself is a Catholic thing. And we should embrace all things along the way that are true, good and beautiful and which serve the mission of the Church.

But such things will not fix our problems by themselves.

People can find well-run, professional, inspirational organisations and great communities anywhere. What we must focus on is what nobody else can do like the Catholic Church does: create saints.

Saints are beacons of Christ to the world.

How many saints is your parish creating? That is the ultimate metric.

Saints will not lose their faith because of your bad liturgical music. They can suffer bad preaching, small budgets, poor management and every single one of the many fools we have in this hospital for sinners.

A saint is compelling in every age and from every angle. They have but to be themselves and the world can’t help but change.

But we’ve gotten bad at making saints.

Because we’ve gotten bad at teaching. And I’m not talking about what we say in the classroom or preach from the pulpit. I’m talking about our example.

The best teachers show. As children we learn more by what we see our parents do than any words they ever say. We’ve forgotten this when it comes to handing on the faith.

We have fallen in love with knowing we are right and called it loving our neighbour.

My parents’ generation left the Church without leaving the pews. And now they wonder why their kids find it silly to stand in the pews of a Church they never really understood, professing creeds they never really believed.

And so we find ourselves scrambling for ways to teach the truth.

Instead of lecturing people that they have to go to Sunday Mass, inspire them to want to go. Instead of telling them to dress more appropriately for Mass, give them something worth dressing up for. Instead of telling them not to be unchaste, fascinate them with chastity.

Instead of talking about how beautiful the faith is, show them its beauty. Instead of insisting upon how good the Church is, be good.

You don’t have to beat people over the head with the truth. You just have to open them up to it. Prepare the way.

Taking Catholicism seriously.
If we want the world to take Catholicism seriously, we must first take it seriously ourselves. That means making radical changes to the ways we live our lives. We need more people to answer the radical call to sainthood. We need saints. Not just saints of the past, but your sainthood.

When the world sees you, they don’t have to see a saint, but at least let them see a sinner set on sainthood. We shouldn’t need to tell people we’re Catholic. They should smell it in our sweat.

“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” – St. Catherine of Sienna

This is an edited extract of Matthew’s post on the National Catholic Register published 15th May 2013 at http://www.ncregister.com/blog/matthew-warner/why-the-world-doesnt-take-catholicism-seriously/#ixzz2fHrOPYZf

You can read more of Matthew’s writing at www.TheRadicalLife.org