The Place of Mission

My lectio today wasn’t terribly inspiring. But on the plane this morning, I was reading a bit of the traditional Jewish principle of the Shaliach, the person sent on a mission. Such people act not on their own behalf, but for the person who sent them. Consider Abraham’s servant Eliezer, sent in Genesis 24 to find a wife for Isaac.

I’m in Clearwater Beach, Florida this week with two of my young colleagues from the student center. We’ve been sent to the CCMA (Catholic Campus Ministry Association) convention by our parish. It’s a marvelous location–Florida is wonderful this week, especially on the Gulf Coast. But I’m not here to experience the white sandy beach with my toes. (Though I did that.)

I often have a critical, sometimes very critical hat on when I attend a convention. But there are nuggets of riches and wisdom–God’s grace to be found not only in the speakers, but also in the experiences. Tonight’s speaker, for example, spoke much of the challenges of catechesis among young Catholics. On one hand, it was a depressing talk. On the other, she certainly had insights to lead us to a more engaged and catechized young adult population.

She spoke of the need for more catechesis, but I think the forces of the culture are arrayed more seriously against Catholics of any age engaging in deeper catechesis. We live in an age of specialization. A college physics major is knowledgeable and competent within her or his discipline. But likely knows little about economics. And an economics major may have a dusing of calculus, but cares nothing for the deep math and concepts masters by a physicist.

Likewise, even committed Catholic college students: why should they learn more about their faith when they have “specialists” to assist them. When confronted with a moral dilemma, why not go to a priest, either live or online? Why make a difficult choice when they can engage an expert to tell them the right thing to do?

I’ve had two good chats with colleagues tonight about that very challenge. Young people are earnest, good Catholics. But most don’t perceive the need as long as religion experts are accessible.

Three more days of being shaliach.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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