At our stewardship day on August 25th, 2007, I had an opportunity to take a break from the hustle of hosting such an event and set in on the keynote address by Bob Voboril, Superintendent of the Diocese of Wichita Catholic Schools. In his address, Bob outlined the U.S. Bishop’s reasoning for writing their Pastoral Letter on Stewardship. The idea of the letter was to figure out why Catholics in America do not give in proportion to our Protestant brothers and sisters or give at all for that matter. The conclusions Bob shared with us were some what startling but not necessarily surprising. The Bishops concluded that American Catholics do not have a giving problem, but a faith problem. The Bishops discovered that:
- Weekly mass attendance has dropped in half over the last 50 years.
- Fewer than half of Catholics goes to confession even once a year.
- When two Catholics marry, 30% marry outside of the Church.
- With a national average of 2.2%; the percentage of income Catholics give to their parishes is .7-1%.
- Catholics rank at or near the top among religious groups in socio-economic status and are closing the gap in terms of power, privilege, and prestige.
- 59% of Catholics don’t know who their bishop is.
- 90% disagree with the church on birth control; 75% on premarital sex
These can be pretty startling and discouraging statistics when you consider how rich in truth and history the Catholic church is. However, the following could offer hope.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. (Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.) We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, quoted in Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech. We all have various degrees of security in the way the things are. We get up, go to work, come home, eat, pay some bills, watch a football game and repeat day after day depending on the sports season. It is an unconscious safety net where we do not have to be vulnerable or take a chance at an unknown. The problem is we are not called to that type of life. We have been designed, to shine light in an often times dark world. You are perfect in God’s eyes regardless of your situation. When we let God work in our lives, hope, love and all kinds of goodness spill out for others to see. When others see that, they unconsciously imitate it, seek it out. So “Start acting Catholic!” as noted Catholic Evangelist Tim Staples would say. Live out your faith! God’s love is so powerful it will only pour out from you like water from open flood gates touching everything…everyone in its path.