Falling Off Chesterton's Chariot

November 1996By Marian E. Crowe

Marian E. Crowe is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Freshman Writing Program at the University of Notre Dame.

A lot of people are falling off of Chesterton's chariot, and sometimes I think I'm the only Catholic in America who cares. I am concerned about numbers, about thinness in the ranks and those people drifting away from the Catholic Church. Is the ride too bumpy or is there no longer a destination in sight?

During the decades after Vatican II, as the number of priests declined, laypeople began to move into roles formerly reserved for priests and religious. They took over religious education of the young, both in Catholic schools (as the presence of sisters became increasingly rare) and in CCD; they staffed RCIA programs, participated in Bible study and faith-sharing groups, and helped run diocesan programs, etc. Undoubtedly, they have done a great deal of good. Nevertheless, I am unpersuaded by the comfortable conviction on the part of many Catholics that this improvised situation is acceptable. I recall speaking to a young mother who taught CCD who confessed that she often felt insecure when her pupils asked her questions. She just couldn't answer them.

Of course, the response one meets with when expressing concern about this situation is to be told that CCD classes are not about information. We are there (we are told) to share our faith, to let the joy and excitement of our relationship with the Lord spill over to others.

I want to argue with this point of view. I want to say that information in the form of rational, informed, and persuasive discourse is critically important. We must pass along the faith in the world of late 20th-century America, where the entertainment industry, journalism, and academia are not only highly secular, but often explicitly antireligious. Perhaps we have something to learn from evangelistic Protestants who utilize the media to spread the Gospel -- information about the Gospel.

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Wow, thanks NOR for the reprint. Ms. Crowe was right on with her analysis and everything has only gotten worse since. GKC was prescient in the early 1900s about where the future was going, as was Popes Pious the X, XII, Paul V, JPII, and Benedict the XVI. So much warning yet the clever Satan appears to be ahead.
Hope springs eternal. There is a rediscovery of the faith among our youth if not in great numbers at least in authentic truth, the fullness of truth which the Catholic Church has to offer.In our diocese the are a number of young men who are studying for the priesthood that, seeing their enthusiasm, would give you great encouragement as to the future of the Church under their guidance.
If the world gets down to the last dozen faithful Catholics I hope to be among them; and knowing that the Holy Spirit is in charge it will keep my hopes up that at some point the world will get turned around. Perhaps with the help of divine intervention, I pray.
Posted by: billford
August 30, 2016 12:28 PM EDT
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