Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who is to Blame for the Situation?

"We make it our prayer that the witness of life by believers may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year."  These words of Pope Benedict, in his apostolic letter which opened the Year of Faith, led the desk columnist of the Catholic Times to wonder how we in our lives will give meaning to the Year of Faith.

He begins by noting that God sent us Jesus, who died on the cross, rose again from the dead, and in God's providence made us to enjoy what he has given, now and for all eternity. This is our sure belief, and though we are challenged daily with temptations and distortions of all kinds, we continue the efforts to live by what we believe, efforts often comparable to those on the field of combat.

He has had discussions with elders and acquaintances who have great love for the Church on finding appropriate ways of living this Year of Faith. He is not able to give full meaning to all that he heard but there are elements he does understand and agrees with. He sums up what he has learned by expressing a warning: If we don't change from the attitude prevalent in the Church of the West and do some deep reflection on the Church in Korea, we cannot expect much from the Year of Faith.

Those in authority, he feels, have to reflect concretely on what is going on before they urge Christians to have a healthy faith life in the face of secularism and other materialistic temptations. His sad conjecture is that we will not have the results desired.

And he asks a number of important questions to determine why this is the case. Can we blame relativism and secularism for the  young not coming out to Church? Is it all the fault of society that the Church was not able to hold them? If religion has descended to where the young are looking for psychological consolation, is it not partially the fault of the clergy and religious? When we have concern for the mass media does the Church fully understand the medium? Have we not used the new media mostly to help in administration? Have we not failed to see the possibilities of the give and take in the world of communication? Have we not been too concerned with alms giving, scholarship  and the practice of individual virtues? Have we not stressed the individual spirituality to the detriment of our social responsibilities?

He quotes Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who referred to the social message of the Church as a well-kept secret.
"It should not be a secret any more. In some cases it’s a neglected secret; houses of formation know very little about it. In the past we looked at the Church as the mystical body of Christ; the emphasis was on spiritual relationships. Then Vatican II opened that up, bringing us closer to recognizing the Church, in terms of social commitments, as a family.

Maybe it is the Church, says the columnist,  that has to look at itself and determine how much we have failed to teach the social commitments that are ours to live as baptized Christians and followers of Jesus. 

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