|Unintentional Mega-Blogging: the Collapse of Cultural Catholicism|
|Written by Sherry|
|Friday, 28 January 2011 11:58|
The blog comment that grew.
On Monday, I responded to a "Sherry bait" post over at Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It. Mark posted my comment and it grew into a 113 comment fest.
Then Fr. Dwight Longenecker picked up a paragraph from that post at Mark's and made it the beginning place of a discussion of the collapse of cultural Catholicism yesterday.
And today Fr. Z over at What Does the Prayer Really Say, picked up the same paragraph this morning and the conversation is going strong over there.
Here's the paragraph in question that has been quoted over and over:
"Here's the deal: roughly 32% of those raised Catholic have abandoned the identity altogether. An additional 38% of those raised Catholic retain the identity but seldom or never bother to show up. 30% attend Mass at least once a month. Only about 15.6% are at Mass on a given weekend. So the next time you witness a baby's baptism, think, in 20 years, 2/3 of those babies will either be gone or non-practicing. Only 1 in 6 of those babies will be attending Mass regularly."
This is just a snippet of the hour long presentation I do on "Spiritual climate" at the beginning of every Making Disciples seminar. The problem is that I can't do that presentation in a blog post - although, as the three devoted readers of Intentional Disciples know, I have certainly tried to do so over the past three years.
So I end up trying to answer the obvious objections and questions and explain the background of statistics over and over again in comboxes.
But what I find fascinating and so sad at the same time is that almost no one picks up on the main point of my original post:
This goes so far beyond a failure to catechize. We are two generations past that. We are on the edge of a demographic precipice that is going to make the post Vatican II fall-off look like a golden age. We are going to have to (gasp) GO OUT and make disciples.
If you want Catholics, MAKE DISCIPLES.
If you want Mass attendance, MAKE DISCIPLES.
If you want vocations, MAKE DISCIPLES.
If you want people who will fill our Institutions and pay for them and care for them, MAKE DISCIPLES.
And yet almost no one, on any of these blogs, seems to want to talk about Making Disciples. The only category they seemed to understand was "Catholic identity" and "Catholic culture". Which is NOT necessarily the same thing at all.
We go over this at every Making Disciples but let me say it here again:
"Catholic Identity" and "Catholic culture" is not the same as discipleship. Catholic identity flows from discipleship. Catholic cultures are built and sustained by disciples.
Catechesis is not initial proclamation. Catechesis comes after the initial proclamation of Christ which awakens beginning Christian faith. Because the Church teaches that catechesis is intended for the maturation of those who are already disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our deepest, most fundamental problem is that the vast majority of those baptized as Catholics, whether they are practicing or not, are not yet disciples. Disciples pray. Disciples worship. Disciples study. Disciples give. Disciples serve. Disciples discern vocation. Disciples obey. Disciples repent. Disciples are transformed. Disciples are increasingly filled with faith, hope and love.
And nothing is more obvious in our present situation than that mere "Catholic identity" can co-exist with the complete absence of all these behaviors that naturally flow from discipleship.
Sara S, a very thoughtful young Catholic of less than a year from a "none" background, made an important observation during the discussion over at Mark's, that very few people took in:
"I do wish we could stop referring to our experiences of 40 years ago when the crisis is with people who weren't born when older Catholics were cutting and pasting for Jesus."
None of the Catholics Sara knows in her culturally Catholic part of the county, on her RCIA team, in her partly Catholic family, wanted to talk about loving God. How unspeakably sad.
Because the vast majority of Catholics who are missing in action couldn't care less about our liturgical or culture war insider debates. They are so far removed from the faith that those things don't mean anything any more.
As I put it in the original post:
"At the very moment, I type this, about a quarter of US adults are either actively seeking or at least are passively open and scanning the horizon for spiritual options. This is true of Catholics in our pews, Catholics who no longer practice, and huge variety of other people of all religious traditions or none. If we were out there, proclaiming Christ in the midst of his Church in a joyful, intriguing manner, the interest of many would be peaked. But so many "orthodox" Catholics are holed up behind their barricades and inside their institutions.
Update: More thought-provoking discussions are breaking out over at Fr. Chris Mathias' Blessed is the Kingdom , Kevin O'Brien lets loose over at the End of the World, and, from an Orthodox perspective, over at Fr. Gregory Jensen's blog, Koinonia where his post is entitled stunningly, "About Jesus Hardly at All".
Whew. Exhale deeply. But there is something so right and blessed about a number of us all wrestling with this, most essential and fundamental source of all the rest of the Christian life. This kind of discussion shouldn't be so rare around St. Blog's.
Now I must return to writing the train the trainers weekend for the large scale Making Disciples initiative underway in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Comments and questions welcome. I'll try to respond as I can.