Sometimes we older folks see a dark and uncertain future for our loved ones who do not “practice the faith.”
Maybe we don’t know them any better than they know us.
THE OLD COUNTRY HOME was once beautiful. Now it was old and in need of new screens and a good coat of paint. The old barn was closed tight.
There were no cattle in the pen now overgrown with weeds. No longer did the neighing of horses greet one’s ears.
The excited chatter and laughter of children no longer greeted the visitors,
This was once a thriving family farm. Now, it looked dead.
It took a while before the door opened to our knocking.
This place, the home and farmland, belonged to my parents’ best friends. The woman who answered the door was now a widow, old and bent. There was a brief pause when she saw us, a moment of “who is this?” Then she smiled warmly.
This memory came to mind following participation in a webinar sponsored by the Paulist Fathers. The topic was Pope Francis’ thoughts on reaching Catholics who no longer take an active part in the life and liturgy of the Church.
When it comes to their relationship with God and the Church, today’s younger folk show more independence and selectivity than we did at their age.
Their life experience, generally speaking, has not included the close-knit ties of an extended family with roots in traditional Catholic life. People, who were formed in the 1960s and through to the present time, got the message that rebellion against tradition and exaggerated self-determination are hallmarks of maturity and independence.
WHEN IT COMES to faith, the younger generations want to know how this God and this faith fit into their own lives here and now. Perhaps, for some of us, young and old alike, it may be how God and Church can be adjusted to fit our own interests and preferences.
I suppose, when they hear us expounding on what we hold as “realities” of faith and holiness, they get visions of something ancient and maybe even lifeless—sort of like that old farm I remember so very well.
Pope Francis is giving us great direction: Help everyone discover God right where they are. Love them. Then, and only then, is the heart ready for more.
We need to become more like Jesus. We need to enter into “their” world to learn why they find no meaning in Mass and the parish church.
Remember, too, they have not failed us—we might have failed them.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14).