Life Worth Living was a popular television show featuring Bishop Fulton Sheen that first appeared on the Du Mont TV Networkon Tuesday night February 12, 1952. Today in the spirit of the same message I dedicate a series of articles entitled Living The Worthy Life. Since it has been almost seventy years since the beginning of that show much has changed in America and world-the largest of which is the focus of today’s article-our view of the world and our view of ourselves in it.
Since the beginning of time, several things have been true and significant according to Bishop Fulton Sheen, ¨First, many souls fail to find God because they want a religion which will remake society without remaking themselves. And second, Ever since the days of Adam, man has been hiding from God and saying, 'God is hard to find.¨
Brother and Sisters, things rarely remain the same. All throughout history this has been the case. Nowhere is this pointed out better in the modern era than the lyrics of the Robert Allen Zimmermans 1964 classic song.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'
You might not recognize the name Robert Allen Zimmerman right away-because he changed his name to Bob Dylan.
Today I started the homily with lyrics of Bob Dykan- Times are A Changing.
But a quick look at the facts finds that Bob Dylan was totally correct on this point.
I grew up in a different America. The America of Happy Days was creation of Greatest generation for their children. The problem is this America no longer exists.
In 1955, 73 percent of those aged 21-29 attended church weekly, but now the figure is less than 20 percent. Among those 60 and over, 73 percent attended church weekly in 1955, but now the figure is 49 percent.
The number of young people professing no religion, nationwide, was only 1 percent in 1955. Today it is 33 percent. That is an increase of 3200 percent!
Roughly 81.6 million Americans—or about 25% of the overall population—identify as Roman Catholic. Catholics comprise the largest religious group in 35 states. Yet the Church is changing thanks to demographic trends and shifting attitudes toward religion.
Some of these changes include: large numbers of immigrants from Central and South America. Without these immigrants- what would happen to the Catholic Church in the US today? What would happen?
In 1975 the US Catholic Church was made up of about 8% of its members foreign born. Today that number has grown to over 30%. In fact over 50% of all secondary students enrolled in religious education programs are Hispanic youth.
Thank God for our Immigrants. One of the greatest pieces of work about Immigrants was the 1883 poem by Emma Lazarus entitled, “The New Colossus.¨
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Is America the same America as it once was? Ask Patrick Crusius, 21. From Allen Texas who shot up a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on August 3, 2019 killing 22 people and wounding many more. In his manifesto that appeared online 19 minutes before he started shooting, he wrote, In short, America is rotting from the inside out, and peaceful means to stop this seem to be nearly impossible. The inconvenient truth is that our leaders, both Democrat AND Republican, have been failing us for decades. They are either complacent or involved in one of the biggest betrayals of the American public in our history.
Violence in society is not new
Death in society is not new
I am here not to talk about violence but I would like to use the concept that can
Cardinal Newman explained it this way, God has created me to do him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission; I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I have a part in a great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
What is new is how we view this. Bishop Fulton Sheen explained, ¨Evil will have its hour. But God will have His day.”
According to the Aramaic Bible in Plain English- Matthew 22: 39 “And the second which is like it is, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
Bishop Fulton Sheen explained it this way, “You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.”
That was over 60 years ago and much of the United States has changed.
110 years ago in the United States the U.S. Catholic population: 14.3 million
Six months before Pearl Harbor there were seven states in the US that had 1,000,000 Catholics living in that state.
In 1960, the first Catholic President was elected and Catholic elementary schools in the U.S. peaked at 10,501. Catholic high schools peaked at 2,392.
In 1970, the US Catholic Church had a total of 59,192 priests now today the number of priests is 36,580.
How can a Church serve its people if the Church service is centered on Sacraments if there are less priests today and many more people?
Well in all honestly lets us look at these facts and compare with 2018:
1970- 18,224 parishes 2018 17,007 parishes
1970- 59,192 priests 2018 36,580 priests
1970- 0 Parishes with a Deacon only 2018 341 parishes with a Deacon only
1970- 47.9 million Catholics 2018 68.7 million Catholics
1970 Foreign Born Catholics 2018 13 million Foreign Born Catholics
1970 Former Catholics 3.5 million 2018 26.1 million Former Catholics
1970 Religious Education Primary 4.2 million 2018 Religious Ed Primary 2.3 million
1970 Religious Ed. Secondary 1.3 million 2018 554,000 Religious Ed. Secondary
1970 Catholic School attendance 3.4 million 2018 Catholic School attendance 1.3 million
My question to you is this, what is the state of our Church today? We are in denial if we are excited about anyone of these facts. We are clearly facing a large problem. The amount of former Catholics will soon be twice as large as the entire Catholic Population of the United States 100 years ago.
Brother and sisters, why this subject and why today?
What can I do about this? I am just one person, I can possibly change anything?
I will make this painfully simple- you can stop it. The key is involvement
It is you and your involvement which is key here.
Bishop Fulton Sheen reminded so carefully, “The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”
We need help and we can not do this without you. We need to increase missionary work both here in the parish and in the Church. We need you to invite your neighbors, your friends, the people you meet and talk to on a daily basis.
We need vocations- we need people for marriage, we need teachers, we need help. If you are willing and able- then volunteer. We need to put you to work. This is for you, this Church and the world. No effort is too small and no intention will be overlooked.
Things have changed since I was little. The language may be different, the hair styles and clothes may be different, but we are in a battle and a war. Do you want the devil to win?
Well, by doing nothing, we are not accomplishing anything.
We can not ask less of ourselves. We must not ask less of ourselves and we will not ask less of ourselves?
Change the attitude, can we possibly continue the way things are or the way things are going?
We need you now and forever.
In closing I would like to relay to you a short story. When I was young there were four stages of life- you were a child, young adult, middle age and finally old age. Today the four stages have become- Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4 cancer. However, we will all experience a real physical death- however we do not have to face this cancer that is spreading throughout the Church today. This is not a physical cancer but a spiritual cancer. It is eating at our soul and stealing the most precious things of the earth- our people.
Are we going to keep on denying these problems and hope they go away.
If we do this- the only thing that will go away is the Church itself.
This is not changing with the times- this is the time to change to get back to Christ