Friday, September 3, 2010

Glenn Beck and the Church II

Glenn Beck and the Church continued:

Communicating a message by tapping into the questions and concerns of people is nothing new of course. The Church has done it well throughout history but not so well in previous decades. The last fifty years are instructive to this end. The declining number of priestly and religious vocations; the closing of Catholic schools, low Mass attendance and fewer couples getting married is not the whole story, but it does speak volumes about the Church’s struggle in attracting souls to Christ and inspiring them to observe all that He commanded.

The Catholic Church is a divine institution with Christ as her founder. But she, as with individuals, has the blood of Adam running through her veins. The human dimension of the Church sometimes lags behind the Holy Spirit’s promptings and initiatives. To be sure, the Mystical Body of Christ is, by no means, exempt from bad habits.

Towards the mid-twentieth century, Western Civilization had become biblically and theologically illiterate. However, the Church continued to use her own language- biblical and theological in nature -in preaching and communicating the Gospel to world just as she did before.

Case and point: As much as I love reading the papal encyclicals and ecclesial documents of the last fifty years, I do know by experience that the average Catholic has a hard time understanding its content; in addition, reading through the volume of pages contained in the documents requires lots of time and perseverance. If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that these documents reach a limited audience. They may appeal to the clergy or to theology students and professors; but I am afraid they do not accommodate the busy mother or father.

The first papal encyclical, that is, the First and Second Letter of Peter in the New Testament, is simple and short. Most people find it inspiring and palatable. One does not have to be a theologian in order to appreciate its message. The Gospels too are in the format of a story; something that even children can relate to.

Furthermore, clerical sermons in the last fifty years have been relegated to religious topics with few references to current events. What lay people breath in during the week- the news, everyday challenges, sexual sin and common temptations –were (and still are) rarely addressed from the pulpit. The Sunday after September 11, 2001, for instance, I attended Mass in which the homilist made no reference to the national trauma of what transpired just days before. Even in 2010, the vices that are killing Western Civilization- cohabitation, contraception, the low birthrate, and homosexuality –continue to be uncomfortable topics for the clergy. But if the heralds of the Gospel are not shedding the light of Christ on these issues during their sermons, who will?

When the Church is silent, the world will lead the public debate on the issues. And when the Church speaks a language that people cannot understand, the world will be more than happy to speak a language that they will understand. Fulton Sheen was right! If the Church does not interfere with Secularism, then Secularism will interfere with it. The Church has to interrupt the world's monologue and lead the discussion with confidence and simplicity.

More on this in the next blog.