In recent months there have been a plethora of articles about religion and the present younger generation. This post-modern group of people is spiritual, but not necessarily religious. There is not only parish shopping, but church shopping as well. In some ways this group could be characterized by a Do-it-yourself religion. And, because their sense of community is not as it once was, the old methods of catechises and evangelization do not always work.
But that is what is necessary, catechises and evangelization. Benedict XVI, in his recent Wednesday audiences, as well as his letters to western Bishops, has indicated that such pastoral practice is of necessity in our world today. The Church in the U.S. is seemingly healthy as far as numbers go. But this is in part of the immigrants from Central and South America. A trend that is being observed are later baptisms and marriages. More often than not persons that come for these sacraments have no particular affiliation with the parish.
But who taught us our faith? More often than not it was mom and dad. Outside of the home, we who went to Catholic Schools were taught by Religious Women. But we also lived in a context where religion and faith were an acceptable part of our culture. Because we have really lost at least two generations, in addition to shaky family ties, our children do not always have the faith formation that we who are older might recall.
One of the primary tasks of the parish must be evangelization. Anymore this does not mean going to some far away place, but is in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools. Too often faith information is received like fast food at a drive through window. And we have satisfied with that telling ourselves, 'Well at least they have something.' Beyond not understanding the basics of prayer and sacraments, there is a whole area of ethics and morals. When I hear the question, "Why does the Church teach ... ," I cannot assume that the person asking the question has even a foundational knowledge of Catholic teaching.
Here at St Mary I keep pushing for catechists for adults. We can send them away for classes, and set them lose in the parish. I keep on hand several books and website info for catholic understanding and theology. The best way to keep our faith alive is to continue t nurture and nourish what has been planted. Part of the Catholics Coming Home initiative was to invite non-practicing catholics to come to church. It is important to talk and to live our faith.