The Most Pressing Issue of Our Time
I was at a youth basketball event recently with my 7 year old. As I sat in the bleachers, watching him go through the drills, I began to engage the other parents around me.
We talked about our town, the upcoming holidays and, wait for it, about our faith.
Of the five others I sat with, only one went to church with regularity. Each of the others was raised Catholic but had chosen along the way to leave the Church. Each had a story and I enjoyed hearing them and getting to know each person a little better.
This type of conversation isn’t new- each of us knows people who have left their faith in the rearview mirror. What was unique was the basic acceptance that faith was something you “did” when you were young.
As for the grownups, only a few make it personal, embracing their faith and a relationship with the Lord.
I left the gym with more resolve than ever before- helping others reclaim their faith and find Jesus- and I am convinced that this is the issue of our time.
Don’t take my word for it. Bishop Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said this, “I’m opposed to a dumbed down Catholicism, I don’t like a culturally accommodating Catholicism. I like when it’s bold and colorful and confident and smart and beautiful, so in that sense, I’m opposed to falling back into beige Catholicism”.
My new friends at youth basketball (the parents) aren’t bad people. They are smart and dedicated to their kids and active members of the community. I figure they are moral and upright as best as they can be.
What their experience tells me is that they had an experience of Catholicism (and the Gospel) that just wasn’t sticky enough to last through their adult life. Never having met Jesus in a personal way, they just sort of veered into an adult experience devoid of faith.
Think of the folks in your neighborhood- you probably have dozens of people who share a similar story. Raised Catholic (or some other flavor of Christianity) and then left it all behind when the responsibilities of an adult life kicked in.
This is the issue of our time. The studies are too many to quote here, of tens of millions who have left their faith behind. It’s not that they are opposed to faith but that they never met Jesus as a person and as Lord. Couple that with a church that is often bland and uncompelling and you have what we have in America: a post-Christian community that is familiar with the faith but just isn’t practicing it.
Other issues are vitally important (social justice, the environment, ecumenism, and others come to mind) but no other issue even comes close to what’s needed more than ever- a thoughtful, authentic, humble presentation of the faith. Solve the personal faith issue and the others get the dire attention that they deserve.
There’s nothing “beige” about that.