I’m glad to see Pope Benedict disavow the SCGS* meme, even if indirectly. I’d prefer an outright indictment of such an anti-apostolic sentiment. But this works well enough.
In the pope’s list of lost hermeneutics, the Hermeneutic of Entitlement, the notion that Catholics deserve to have people come to us so we don’t have to get off our lazy butts, is a big one. I’ve frequently wondered if it’s been a blind spot for the Holy Father, focused as he is on the atmospherics of academia.
For your consideration today, a confluence of two quotes. First, the pope from a recent gathering of the Ratzinger Schulerkreis:
We, who have been able to know (Christ) since our youth, may we ask forgiveness because we bring so little of the light of his face to people; so little certainty comes from us that he exists, he’s present and he is the greatness that everyone is waiting for.
And from a counselor who did a couples’ workshop at our parish last February:
The meaning of communication is the response elicited, not the response intended.
I may think I’m saying one thing to my wife. But often she hears and responds as if I said something totally different. Even after 187 months of marriage, it happens on my end, too. And if our domestic church, a locus where we take the sacramental life of the family very seriously, has these occasional breakdowns, you can imagine how often the gospel message gets mangled. Especially with people outside the household of the Church. Especially when Catholics who think they’re absolutely correct sit around and wait for the Tiber boat traffic to appear on the shore.
At the student center, we’ve had a big influx of newcomers thus far. Last night before heading to my music workshop, I peeked at the list of students who signed up with an interest in Communion Ministry. 110 is way up from the seventy-some from last year. Don, our secretary reported that overall student registration in the parish is up over a hundred from last year–to 829 so far.
These young women and men are nearly all baptized Catholics, but we are not entitled to them like they were some kind of bequest. We will need to work for them. With them. The soil is not always deep, and the birds and thickets are out there.
If we elicit the response of young adults prepared to shoulder the responsibility of their adult faith: making of their whole live a pattern of the Gospel, then we will have made a start to our mission. We will know our communication has been successful. Not by the sheer numbers of the enrolled, but by the witness of faith rendered on campus, in our community, and in the world.
That should be the goal of every Catholic faith community. And for it to be a real, not imaginary goal, the elicited response needs to be a lot more clear, don’t you think? Less of the narcissistic whining about persecution, please. More apostolic witness.
* Small Church Getting Smaller
One of your bestest posts, evah.
We are ever tempted to the spiritually ego-centric blindspot: we focus on our purposes and intentions, not on how we are received by others, and thus we tend to overemphasize the work of the Spirit in the former and tend to make the latter dependent upon it. This is especially true when operate on a foundation that we are Truth-bearers to the World.