We must first beg your pardon, Gentle Reader, if you opened this article in hopes of perusing an erudite diagnosis of the catechetical devolution that has transpired in the Catholic Church over the past half-century. Particularly in light of the fact that two thirds of “self-identified” Catholics in America no longer profess Catholic faith in central doctrines, the situation may need no demonstration.
Calls for better catechesis abound, and the topic of religious education being dear to our contributors and readers, a more thoroughgoing treatment may be undertaken here in coming days.
In the meantime…
A picture is worth a thousand words:
We aren’t really sure who the Successors of the Apostles in the United States of America commissioned to design this poster, but…
- Did they get it mixed up with a gay pride event?
- Is that a giant crescent moon looming over the entrance of… is that a church?
- Is that an assembly line of nuns making candy? With construction workers?
- Migrant workers, urban overcrowding, pollution, imprisonment, tech addiction – covered! Anything Catholic on the agenda?
Ok, perhaps that last is a bit unfair. But to read a token New-Agey line from the liturgy booklet included in their program, one has to wonder:
- “By being stewards of God’s gifts, we take an active part in bringing this vision of life into being.”
Ah yes, Vision! Taking Active Part! Bringing Into Being! (Of the 19 words in that sentence, how many are buzzwords? Nothing compared to the Amazon Synod prep document, but still…)
At least we can thank God that the couple in the poster appears to be a man and a woman – and with more than 1.3 children! Even if they don’t have faces.
Of course, we have no idea what content will be presented at the above event, nor do we intend to impugn the character of its speakers or organizers. One hopes it will be beneficial to those who attend, and equipping and edifying for anyone entrusted with the sacred task of handing on the Faith.
But consider the above poster again, just for a moment. In a culture now largely driven by graphics, does this imagery even suggest that the USCCB is offering something worthwhile? Does it hint that handing on the Faith in its integrity is a matter of divine precept, and one of man’s most pressing tasks? Does it even remotely intimate that something of value is concerned here, much less something imperative, something transcendent, something profoundly holy, beautiful, eternally significant, supernatural, Divine – as our Faith truly is?
Friends, Catholic catechesis in this country is in shambles.
Seeing as the imparting of right doctrine is one of the chief tasks of the bishopric (and that they presently undertake said task with happy-dappy posters like the above), we might at least prescribe a reading of Pope St. Pius X’s Acerbo Nimis (1905), which proves strikingly relevant to our own time.
A powerful excerpt, then, to conclude:
“…It is a common complaint, unfortunately too well founded, that there are large numbers of Christians in our own time who are entirely ignorant of those truths necessary for salvation… so Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, had just cause to write: ‘We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.’
“…We pray and entreat you [the Bishops] to reflect on the great loss of souls due solely to ignorance of divine things. You have doubtless accomplished many useful and most praiseworthy works in your respective dioceses for the good of the flock entrusted to your care; but before all else, and with all possible zeal and diligence and care, see to it and urge on others that the knowledge of Christian doctrine pervades and imbues fully and deeply the minds of all.”Acerbo Nimis ns. 2, 27