When I used to be a math tutor, I helped elementary school students who were struggling with arithmetic. As a physicist, I was knee deep in very difficult and advanced mathematics and realizing that some children had difficulty with addition and subtraction initially took me aback. Basic arithmetic had become so familiar to me that it took some time to figure out how to teach and explain it. I took it so much for granted that I forgot how odd it must seem to a child coming across it for the first time.
In a similar way, we could look at today’s “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” question: “What does the word ‘Incarnation’ mean?” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the Church calls ‘Incarnation’ the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it.”(CCC 461) While this is not easy language it is something that most Catholics are used to hearing and may not think twice about. When we realize that most of the disagreements in the first five centuries of the Church revolved around this doctrine, we may be surprised. What, exactly, is the big deal? In these arguments, the big deal was our salvation.
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There is debate among some in Church, as I suppose there has been in every age, as to how to interpret the signs of the times. It was common in the 1970s and into the 80s for many to speak hopefully of a “Springtime for the Church” as they looked with confidence for the fruits of the Second Vatican Council to take off.
And there have indeed been many Spring fruits: a laity that is more engaged in daily Church life, a Liturgy that flourishes in very diverse ways from traditional Latin Masses, across the spectrum to more charismatic and vernacular expressions, the Catechism of the Catholic Church which has helped stabilize the content of catechesis, the bouncing back of vocations that is underway and the founding of new and reformed Orders along with the blossoming of many lay apostolates, these and other such things speak to the fruits of a kind of springtime.
And yet it is increasingly hard to argue that the temporal order is in anything but increasing disrepair,
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. . . “ The New Evangelization must provide a clear theological explanation for the necessity of the Church for salvation. This is a sensitive aspect of our preaching and too often has been neglected in catechesis. Rampant in much of the revival culture of today is the sentiment that salvation is achieved through a relationship with Jesus apart from the Church. But what needs to be emphasized and demonstrated is that Christ meets man wherever he is, in and through the presence of the Church ( cf.Instrumentum Laboris, nn. 35- 36).”
Cardinal Wuerl At Synod . . . Faults Bad
Catechisms, Liturgical Abuses.
On the Culture : The Pew Survey’s Most Sobering Result – Catholic Culture.
Not only are the results of this survey shameful but they are an indictment that the Church has done a very poor job in catechizing their flocks. They had better get busy before we lose religious liberty completely.