It’s the news of the day that Islam could soon be the largest religion in the world with Catholics/Christians meandering in at second place. How could this happen? Our churches are still standing yet, in many cases the spiritual content and human presence is lacking. We were told to ‘go forth and multiply’ yet many couples replicate themselves and use birth control to stick to that magic number of four – a mother, father, son, and daughter.
My husband and I married a bit later in life so people applauded us when we had our first child, a son. Two years later, they were happy that we completed our family with a baby girl. Two years after that, they teased us about the oops when we welcomed a second daughter. However, when we produced yet another child four years after that, we got a lot of comment about ‘don’t we know the world is overcrowded’, we are supporting global warming, we don’t care about the environment . . . because we happily took home a fourth baby. And, many of these remarks came from other Catholics who seem to have forgotten the gift of a child. We figured that if God had these gifts to give, why not let Him make the decision on how many?
Is it any wonder the Christian numbers are declining while the Muslim ones realize the strength in numbers?
So, what happens when a religion fails to constantly present the faith necessary to promote and live the faith? The biggest change came in vocations. When parents have two, precious children and no more, are they likely to talk up vocations to them? I read a story about a group of priests who, in the course of their conversation, discovered they were all seventh sons. What a coincidence, what a blessing . . . what a sadness to realize that these days, many third or fourth babies won’t happen much less a seventh child. How many priests and religious have never found their way into the world in turn depriving other generations of people of their holy example?
A similarity between Islam and Christianity, is they are both strong religions with rules and percepts that have to be obeyed in order to realize an eternity. The problem comes in the fact that Catholics/Christians aren’t always having this enforced and reflected from their Baptismal promises.
It has always been a running joke that once a person has received Confirmation, the church isn’t likely to see them again until they decide a church wedding would be nice. The Eucharist isn’t always given It’s place as evidenced by the grinning, pushing, and chatting in the Communion line. Jesus is waiting at the altar to greet us in his fullness of love and we treat it as a social event and the happiness of Mass almost being over until the next Sunday. It would be interesting to see the reaction if a priest stopped distribution of Communion to demand quiet and reverence.
Modesty in attire doesn’t change from daily shopping to Sunday worship. The rules can be bent and I have had more than one priest tell me that we need to judge ourselves by our conscience. When there are go guidelines emphasized, consciences tend to soften up quite a bit. There are often up to a thousand parishioners in a parish yet less than hundreds at confession on a Saturday. Sunday is grudgingly given to God but Monday through Saturday is all for us.
We can’t just BE Catholics/Christians these days. We need to be a strong presence supported by the strong values and faith that should be a part of our life. Still, after decades of lowering birth numbers, weak religious instruction at home, softening of rules and clergy who seem to be almost afraid of actually saying out loud that you can’t just be a lukewarm good person to gain Heaven but a soldier for Christ, it might be verging on too late. We shouldn’t just pray for special intentions and only when needed but every day. The Rosary is the key to Heaven and the path to miracles . . . a miracle we need if we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in a Christian world in sound faith and safety.