Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stop, Look and Listen

For the past ten years or so, I have made a serious attempt to evangelize. Granted, my personality does not render itself to a bold approach. Rather, I trust the Holy Spirit to send prospective Catholics in my direction. Email exchanges with sometimes anti-Catholic Christians have been cordial and gratifying, but not necessarily fruitful and opportunities have been rare. Since becoming a catechist in my parish, my efforts have been concentrated on the faith formation of existing Catholics whose prior catechesis has been weak or non-existent. I want to share my enthusiasm for the Faith with others, but lately I have felt a bit frustrated.

Getting Catholics to spend time working on Faith formation outside of weekly Mass can be difficult. People become preoccupied with the secular lifestyle of the twenty-first century where the daily routine dominates minds all waking hours. Rarely does anyone schedule time for spiritual reflection and enhancement. The challenge is in getting Catholics excited about their Faith.

An accumulation of books, DVDs, and CDs sit idly on my shelves, largely because no one seems interested in taking the time to use them. I have a subscription with Lighthouse Catholic media where they send me five copies of a spiritual talk each month. My intent was to keep one copy for myself and give the others away. I occasionally offer them to those who attend faith formation classes at our parish. They are ideal for popping in the car player during daily commutes. I suspect some take them to be polite, but prefer other entertainment on the car radio. Books and videos are rarely returned, probably not due to continuous use. Seldom do I get any feedback.

In an attempt to attract inquirers to our RCIA class, I placed a classified ad in a local paper for four weeks. It simply said, “Ever thought of becoming Catholic? Call (my cell phone number) to speak with a Catholic or email (address) with your questions.” The response was underwhelming. I received no calls or emails. RCIA has been advertised on the sign in front of the church and explained on the webpage. Still no new potential catechumens have come forward this year.

Last Sunday, I went into the church where Eucharistic Adoration was taking place to get a missalette to show my CCD class. We were studying Benediction and I wanted to show them where to find the prayers. As I entered, a parishioner was helping her stroke-impaired husband exit the church. She asked if I could stay for Adoration because she had to get her husband home. There was no one else in the church with the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar. I returned to my class long enough to place someone else in charge and then went back to Eucharistic Adoration where I was alone until another person arrived ten minutes later. Adoration began after the first Sunday morning Mass, meaning many healthy parishioners left an already burdened couple alone to stay until someone else arrived. I knelt there thinking how can I teach young people about the privilege of being in Christ’s real presence in the Blessed Sacrament when adults in the parish stay away. I did bring the students in for the final minutes of Adoration and the Benediction.

We seem to be surrounded by religious indifference. Has our secular world pushed God completely out of our lives? Are we so wrapped up in the daily routine that we no longer have time to be spiritual? I certainly hope not. We do have a small group meeting on Tuesday evenings. One young woman’s interest in joining the Catholic Church is enough to keep my hopes alive this year. Another couple attending the class keeps the discussion interesting and lively. I just wish more people would realize what they are missing.