Servus fidelis or infidelis, that is the question. Are we faithful servants or unfaithful servants? I think everyone tries to be the former but many have been misled to accept opinion rather than doctrine and mistakenly pass misinformation on to others. I do not question their good intentions. These good intentioned people have donated their time and effort to educate our children in the faith and those adults who want to convert to Catholicism.
We are at a time when most people who are old enough to be teaching religious education were raised in a church without the old Baltimore Catechism that was written in various volumes for children of all ages and even for adults. The Vatican wanted to rid us of the question and answer format, though countless children came to understand their faith very well under this system. Since the close of Vatican II in 1965 we had no approved Catechism to use for our children or for our adults. This situation lasted until the present Catechism was published in English in 1994 and it was supposed to be a guide for the bishops and priests, not for the laity. However, because we had nothing else the laity bought these catechisms in droves and it is now a household item. But still: where are the excellent tools for teaching that will take a child from an elementary understanding to a full understanding of the faith. Our children are leaving the church in increasing numbers and from my pew-side analysis it is a combination of the secular education system and the poor catechesis that makes their faith unattractive and opposed to reason. Once our kids leave the house many simply never return.
Of those that stay (God bless their attempts to hold to the faith) many don’t know what they are supposed to adhere to as doctrine that must be believed. And poll after poll shows that Catholics, especially the young and those catechized during the years 1965-1994 (catechism free days) think of themselves as more spiritual than religious. Meaning, I suppose, that they have embarked on a spiritual journey without the guidance of Catholic theology and doctrine.
Another poll in 1992 showed that a mere 30 percent of Catholic laity believed in transubstantiation. Some believed in consubstantiation as some Protestants denominations believe and others believed that the Blessed Sacrament was simply a symbol of Christ. Though the sampling was very small, it should not have mattered. Most if not all should have understood this basic teaching of the Church. That was, sad to say, a shocking poll.
Therefore, we cannot be shocked at the irreverence at Mass in many parishes because the un-catechized or poorly catechized just don’t know any better. And now their children don’t either.
Is there any wonder why we have experienced such a slide from the wonder and awe that Catholics used to exhibit every time they attended Mass?
We are all unprofitable servants. We only have what has been given to us to offer and nothing of our own; not even our free will or our sufferings offered as gifts to God are our very own. Everything including our love for God is merely the return of a gift we received from Him. Therefore even our faith and the Holy Doctrines of the faith are gifts to us from above simply delivered to us by His Church. Our Sacraments are delivered through the Church as well and when we accept the Sacrament of Confirmation we really should have a good idea of what the Church teaches and assent to all the teachings of the Church.
I am a supporter of the New Evangelization and see it as a way to change the world. The New Evangelization as spelled out in John Paul II’s encyclical, At the Beginning of the Third Millennium, called for each Catholic to strengthen their faith and live lives worthy of our call to Christianity in the world. He said that “all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness.” My only question is how many Catholics know their faith or have even witnessed true holiness that they might be able to go forth and transform the world?
We are at a crossroads, in my mind. Pope Benedict XVI has written a motu proprio, Porta Fidei, for the year of faith beginning October 11, 2012 in which he would like everyone to deepen their commitment to the faith. Again, in order for this to be successful, it seems to me that we need to work ceaselessly to educate our flock from the bottom up so that we will not merely be viewing another year in honor of this thing or that thing which on the whole most of us ignore.
My wife, a DRE for 21 years, has a pretty good handle on the difficulties they have in teaching the kids. The primary difficulty is the unwillingness for the parents to take the studies seriously and work with their kids for the preparation for their Sacraments. It mirrors the lack of parental involvement in our schools. Apparently, the modern view is that we will leave the teaching to the schools. Meanwhile they are beside themselves when their child flunks a course in school or is told that their child is not ready for the Sacraments. It is their contention that the fault lies in the school, parish or teacher. But none are willing to admit that they should be pointing the finger at themselves.
The texts for the children have also been dumbed down substantially from the old Baltimore Catechism series. At the high school level, the old texts of yesteryear such as the series, Our Quest for Happiness (1940, Lepanto Press), would not be understood by most of our adult parents let alone their children. Our education systems have made it next to impossible to educate our children in their faith as they have no training in critical thinking skills.
The only way that I see for this to change is not to look towards others to do what we need to do ourselves. We must educate ourselves in critical thinking skills, logic, theology, religion and the catechism. Then we must take responsibility for our children in these areas as well. If we leave it up to the books, the teachers and the schools we will change nothing. We need to fight for our own children: in the process we might just learn something of value ourselves. You may want to supplement your child’s religious education by reading from the Baltimore Catechism at night. It is still available and it is still a good teaching of the faith.
Once we and our children understand the Catholic faith, it will not take much to find more respect and reverence in our parishes: people will insist on more holiness and deeper faith formation. Who knows? We might just preserve the Faith of our Fathers for another generation or two.
 THIRD GALLUP POLL (1992): BELIEF IN DOGMA ON HOLY EUCHARIST
In January 1992, the St. Augustine Center Association sponsored a second Gallup poll, called “A Gallup Survey of Catholics regarding Holy Communion.” This poll, which included telephone interviews of 519 U.S. Catholics during the period of December 10, 1991, to January 19, 1992, revealed that ONLY 30% OF NOVUS ORDO CATHOLICS BELIEVE THE DE-FIDE DOGMA ABOUT THE SACRAMENT OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST namely, that at Communion they are really and truly receivng the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine, which is known as the Real Presence. 70% OF NOVUS ORDO CATHOLICS NOW HOLD AN HERETICAL BELIEF IN THE HOLY EUCHARIST. Specifically,
1) 29% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe that when receiving Holy Communion, they are receiving bread and wine, which symbolize the spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ, and in so doing are expressing their attachment to His Person and words. This is the heresy of Protestant John Zwingli, who taught the false doctrine that the Mass is merely a symbolic commemoration of Christ’s death.
2) 24% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe that when receiving Holy Communion, they are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, which has become that because of their personal belief. This is the heresy of Protestant John Calvin, who taught the false doctrine that the faith of the recipient transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
3) 10% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe that when receiving Holy Communion, they are receiving bread and wine, in which Jesus Christ is really and truly present. This is the heresy of Protestant Martin Luther, who taught the false doctrine known as “consubstantiation,” that the Body and Blood of Christ coexist with the elements of bread and wine during the Eucharist.
4) 8% of Novus Ordo Catholics hold some other non-Catholic belief.
5) Only 30% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe that they are really and truly receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearance of Bread and Wine. This has always been the Church’s dogma regarding the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
The Catholic Church teaches that Transubstantiation, that is, the complete change of the bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood, is effected by an ordained priest during the Consecration of the Mass, so that only the appearance of bread and wine remain. The Sacramental presence of Christ begins the moment of transubstantiation and remains as long as the Eucharistic species exist. This doctrine goes back to Apostolic times, and its basis is in Scripture and Tradition. The term “transubstantiation,” meaning “change of substance,” was adopted by the dogmatic Fourth Lateran Ecumenical Council in 1215 to help explain the doctrine of the Real Presence.
The poll results show a terrible confusion on the part of Catholics concerning one of the most fundamental dogmata of the Church, a confusion that has actually led them into (at least material) heresy.
The poll results were presented to the U.S. Bishops at their annual conference of November 1992 at Washington, D.C. The bishops failed to take any action, but preferred to let 7 out of 10 Catholics remain in (at least material) heresy.