Learn from mistakes

“Ouch. That hurts.” My husband and I never had any children of our own, but all of us, no matter if we actually adopt or bear children, are called at some level to what the Church refers to as spiritual parenthood. And after receiving a very respectful, honest and very direct email from a 20-something listener recently, I suddenly realized how moms and dads must feel when they know they’ve made a mistake or hurt their sons or daughters in some way.

George contacted me after the Supreme Court hearings on marriage in late April. He was following the case closely, and his note to me concentrated on some of the comments made by Justice Antonin Scalia, who noted, among other things, that if the highest court in the land redefined marriage, there would be no one to stop the threat of churches across the land losing their tax-exempt status. Persecution of priests and ministers who refused to “marry” same-sex couples would soon follow, along with other consequences. This is where the “ouch” comes in. George wondered how his parents’ generation, made up mostly of baby boomers, could have allowed the situation to get to this point.

“I am not solely blaming my parents’ generation for such a mess, but I am pointing to the fact that this issue would not be an issue if the Catholic laity would live up to the minimum standards set by God and his Church (especially after Vatican II).”

He has a point. There are close to 70 million people in America who identify themselves as Catholic. Yet the latest statistics show less than 25 percent of Catholics attend Mass weekly. And among those who do keep their weekly obligation, how many of them are taking their Catholicism beyond Sunday?

But when you get down to it, we are all responsible for our own salvation. As I confessed to George, I was a lapsed Catholic for years. I made up my own rules and still identified myself as a member of the Church. In other words, I was a big part of the problem. What would the Church look like today if we took our faith seriously then and now? What would the culture look like?

“As a young Catholic about to walk into an absolute mess of a society, I don’t blame society as much as I do the lack of authenticity in Catholic laity,” George wrote. “Could you imagine if the laity in the Church were to speak and live their faith? We wouldn’t have this issue. Now, me and my fellow Catholic youth are walking into a time where our lives will be threatened because the generation before us couldn’t live up to the minimum standards asked by God and his Church.” 

There is one thing to be said for the activists behind the push for so-called same-sex marriage: What they lack in numbers, they make up for in commitment and determination. Granted, they have Hollywood and a good majority of the secular press behind them, but as George so eloquently pointed out, given our numbers, if Catholics would have taken their faith seriously, the world would be a much different place. George closed by asking for prayers for him and others in his generation.

“I ask that all adults pray — and pray fervently — for people in my generation to stand the test of faith that is about to come. Pray that we will be able to stand up for our faith and help change the culture one soul at a time. Pray that we will be able to raise our children effectively, so they can pick up whatever is left of Catholic morality and change this planet for the better.”

Amen. Yes, the truth does hurt, but the Truth (as in Jesus and his Church) can also heal.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.