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Chaput – lack of Faith limits Church influence on the world September 27, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, General Catholic, sickness, Society.

Why is the voice of the Catholic Church so often drowned out in the cacophony of voices in our media saturated world?   Christians make up a majority of this country, and world-wide constitute 1/3 of all human beings – why is it that we seem to have so little influence on the dominant culture.  Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver thinks he knows the answer, and it’s staring us in the face:

Christians’ lack of faith and cowardice are the primary obstacles to Christian culture at a time when unbelief is the spirit-destroying “state religion” of the modern world, Archbishop Charles Chaput has told a gathering of academics. He urged personal repentance and witness as the path to cultural renewal.The Archbishop of Denver delivered his remarks on Sunday in Baltimore to the annual convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, which awarded him the organization’s Cardinal O’Boyle Award.

He told the scholars that their task is to strengthen their zeal in advancing the Gospel, their courage in struggling against sin, and their “candor in naming good and evil.” He advised them to use their God-given skills to strengthen this spirit in each other, their students, and their colleagues.

“If you do only that, but do it well, then God will do the rest,” Archbishop Chaput declared.

Comparing American Catholics to the ancient Israelites who “forgot their faith because they weren’t taught,” he said that if Catholics no longer know their faith or their obligations, “we leaders, parents and teachers have no one to blame but ourselves.”

This speech was given to an association of Catholic scholars, so the references to lack of formation in the Truth revealed by Christ through His Church had to be something of a rebuke.  Certainly, there is much to be desired in the formation of almost all Catholics – I have read that 3/4 of US Catholics think the Eucharist is just a symbol of Christ’s Body and Blood, and not the Real Presence.  That indicates a collapse in formation.  I do not think it an exaggeration to state that the large majority of Catholics today have little or no knowledge of the Faith.

But, in a broader sense, Chaput is stating that the reason why we as Catholics have so little influence on the culture, in spite of our very large numbers, is because we’re not living the Faith and serving as exemplars of the Christian ethos through our very lives.  Our Church leadership certainly bears a large responsibility for this, as leaders, they should be out in front boldly proclaiming the Truth the Church believes, not equivocating or minimizing it in order to  keep from being viewed as extreme by those they are trying to please be pastoral .  But all of us, me included, bear some of this responsibility.  How often do we visibly live the Faith?  How often do we acquiesce to cultural norms instead of living a life informed by our Faith and as a proclamation of all we believe?  This can be little things – priests wearing clerics in public, families saying a prayer before eating in a restaurant, acting with kindness and charity towards all (I’m working on it!), deferring to others…..the list is endless.  But, this effort should also be adult and intelligent – running around telling people they’re damned if they are not Catholic, or spraying people in the mall with Holy Water is probably not the way to go.  It’s a life guided by Christian virtue.  It’s living by the two supreme commandments Jesus gave us. 

Somehow, this has failed to happen over the past century or so.  It’s failing to happen now.  While there are those who strive to live Christian lives, there aren’t enough of us doing it.  I’m not doing it enough.  I think that’s Chaput’s point – we can’t evangelize the culture without really living the Faith.  That, in the end, is the only kind of evangelization that will really make a lasting impact.


1. Cori - September 28, 2010

Just imagine how much we could do if every Catholic made offerings and prayers for our ailing world! God’s just chomping at the bit to work His miracles but so many of us would just complain that they weren’t the right kind of miracles. We have so much to learn about His nature.

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