Friday, September 21, 2012

Catholic World View

What is a Catholic world view?  Simply put: A comprehensive view of life that provides us with a way of living guided by the teachings of Jesus, with God as the source of true joy. "Whatever brings us true joy, whether the small joys of each day or the greatest joys in life, has its source in God, even if this does not seem immediately obvious" were the words addressed this year to the young people on Youth Sunday. Joy is a sign of a life lived according to the teachings of Jesus; sadly this is not always understood. Overwhelmed by so many other teachings, we sometimes forget why the other teachings are there.

Our young people are no longer attending our community functions as in the past, most dioceses acknowledging this fact as the most serious  problem now facing the Church. How to deal with this problem is certainly not a one-time  effort, but an ongoing pastoral concern. The Christian values given to the young have not been able to withstand  the pressures to conform to the secular values of society and the pervasive materialistic concerns of the present age, particularly as it manifests in our educational system and in the media.  That the Catholic world view was not able to withstand the assault was not the problem of the world view but its absence, the failure to successfully evangelize this core message of the faith.

The Year of Faith is an attempt to focus our energies on improving this evangelization process, especially with regard to our youth. Picking up on this important issue, two editorials in the Catholic Times have recently discussed the youth problem as a manifestation of systemic problems both in society and in the Church. The first concern discussed was the need to show a more pastoral interest in young people, and a willingness to use our finances to promote the work with the young. The second concern was the large number of suicides in Korean society and the widespread discontent of the younger generation. Among developed countries, Korea leads in both of these categories, with suicides among the young the number-one  reason for deaths in this age group.

One editorial mentions that many of the dioceses are taking great interest in the pastoral care of the young precisely because of the lack of values, pluralism, the ever-present secularization and relativism of society. The need for a new mentoring system was suggested as a possible help for young people in finding their rightful place in the present and future future society. 

Putting these thoughts together with the large numbers of youthful suicides, we can see a connection. Society has improved economically, doubling where it stood in 2000, and yet the rate of suicides continues to climb, more than doubling where it was in 2000. The increase of material prosperity has not increased the happiness quotient of Koreans. According to the OECD,  Korea ranks 31st of 32 countries surveyed in the happiness index.

The number of suicides is a good indication of the health of a society. With Korea's high rate of suicides, it is difficult to say we are a developed country. The government  should of course not hinder but help its citizens to find happiness, and the Catholic Church also needs to determine how much of the unhappiness in society is due to  the cultural climate we have created.

It should be remembered that the fullness of a Christian life will overcome all the difficulties of life, even a toxic culture, and give us a joy that nothing can take away. In an attempt to make this reality more available to all, parishes are looking for ways to be more welcoming to their members.  Fellowship and a family atmosphere are often missing in the typical parish, resulting in more Catholics leaving the faith, and less success in attracting more converts. We can go a long way toward changing this troubling scenario by combining our Catholic worldview with a warm loving atmosphere whenever we gather together. This will help put Jesus and the joy he came to give us back into our lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment