Tuesday, January 10, 2017


   I write this for the church in the United States.  But I believe it is valid in other countries, in their own way.

   Recently, when Cardinal Joseph Tobin was installed as Archbishop of Newark, NJ, he said there is a chasm between faith and life.  He was right.  The chasm is caused by the fact that the Church has become irrelevant to life in today's society.  As a result, very many Catholics have confirmed the chasm by walking away from the church.   

   With some exceptions like Cardinal Tobin and Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, most of today's bishops don't understand the faith problem of church-going Catholics and the chasm created by the many Catholics who have walked away from the church.  Looking out from their clerical bubble they blame today's society.  They are unable to see that millions of Catholics have walked away from the church because they can't find a faith there that is relevant to their life in today's society.  They can't find an effective, active, adult spirituality that will help them effectively challenge and correct today's society and elevate our graced, luminous humanity.

  Between the bishops and the people, the priests are left on their own to do whatever they can.  

 What parish organizes its people to actively challenge and correct the harm that our government is about to inflict upon America, especially the sick, poor, vulnerable and outcast?  What parish is actively involved in putting pressure on those who are responsible for our sinful income inequality?  What parish is helping our public schools give our children a truly life-enhancing education?  What parish is actively involved in the ever growing need to save our environment?  All these efforts are essential expressions of today's faith and spirituality.

   Pope John XXIII and Vatican II taught us to "read the signs of the times," i.e., to see the problems, challenges and opportunities of our everyday world, and actively work to correct them where needed and thereby elevate our lives and make us more luminously human.  Today's spirituality is about our evolving in Christ so that we can build up the Kingdom of God on Earth, as Jesus prayed for.  Thy Kingdom come...   As I say in this blog's heading:  People are suffering.  Waiting is not an option.

   Most bishops are living inside their clerical bubble and do not recognize that the spiritual problems, challenges and opportunities I mentioned are the concerns of the church.  From within their clerical mindset they work to get people to come back to the church building, to Mass.  It won't work.  Those who have left know that they will return to a liturgy that is disconnected from their everyday life, with tired sermons on sexual conduct and lessons based in poor Biblical understanding and outworn theology and spirituality.  They know they will receive no meaningful spiritual help or formation for facing today's spiritual challenges as effective, spiritual adults. 

  Even worse, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has publicly stated that those who leave are "imaginary Catholics."  They are not even real, not worth the title of "lost sheep" whom the shepherd must go out and search for.  With such an attitude as Chaput's, why would they even want to come back?

   Is all lost?  No.  Today there are millions of young and young-in-spirit people of Catholic heritage who are searching for a faith and spirituality of active and effective good will and love, but without reference to the Catholic church or Catholic religion.  I call them the Spiritual but not Religious People of God.  I fully believe that they are being led by the Spirit of Christ.  They are to be encouraged in every way possible.

   Being Americans, they enjoy a strong sense of individuality.  But they also have a positive sense of community.  (The negative sense is leading young people, e.g., to "drop out" or form gangs.)  For example, they form Internet communities, tech communities, art communities, political communities, e.g., for Bernie Sanders; fan communities for their favorite performers, etc.  And very importantly, they constantly text one another.  So their connectedness already exists.

   Mature individuals know that they live and grow in community without losing their individuality.  Today's science and theology clearly show us that community is the basic, ever-evolving form of nature and of the universe itself.  Sub-atomic particles naturally form a community that is an atom; atoms naturally form a community that is a molecule; molecules naturally form a community that is an element, and so on up the scale.  God, One and Trinity, is a community of inter-related LOVE.  All our positive communities are images of God.  

   If the young seekers are encouraged to move in the right direction, they will naturally begin looking for one another and create small communities of faith and spirituality.  People like me, and this blog, will best encourage them by giving them general encouragement and leaving the particulars up to them.  We should especially encourage them to clarify and fully appreciate the norms and values of being an American, e.g., a community of people of all races, colors, creeds and social and economic standing, who live as one inter-connected, inter-related, inter-dependent people.     

    Very importantly, we need to give them an acceptable contemporary image of God, not of a monarch or judge but of an Infinite/Eternal Community of Inter-related, Inter-dependent, Ever-evolving Living Love.  Simply put, we are expressions of Inter-related, inter-connected, inter-dependent Love.  So just being who we truly are energetically unites us to God. 

   The young will not relate what they are doing to the church they have rejected.  Instead they will relate to the community they have created.  That's fine.  In time, these new communities will coalesce and grow into a new Catholic community.  By that time, "Catholic" will have come to mean, The World-Wide People of Universal Inclusion in the Loving Spirit of Jesus Christ.  It will be a People who are actively and deeply committed to working with all others of good will in building up the all-inclusive Kingdom of God on Earth. It will be ecumenically open to all People who truly want to walk with them the Way of Life and Truth that is relevant to the real, everyday world.

   I am sure that this can happen because it is already happening.  As of us who are deeply experienced in today's world must encourage the young and young-in-spirit to keep doing what they are doing.  With our encouragement and counsel in the general norms and values of life, they will supply the particulars for living a spiritually mature life in their own everyday world.  They are our only hope.

   In the meantime the church will continue to be irrelevant and our country and our culture will continue to decline.  Maybe our country, culture and church will have to hit bottom in order to rise again to new life.  Maybe our young can catch them before they hit bottom.  I don't know.  I can only repeat; they are the only hope we have.

   God bless them.   






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