Dear Communion of Saints:
I just read the results of the Pew Study on religious observance in the USA, and noted with horror that Catholic attendance is down dramatically if one doesn't factor in new immigrants from Mexico and Central America. I'm hotter than a tea kettle on full whistle about this. But also confused...should I blame Vatican II? The Jesuits? The DaVinci Code? Opus Dei? Those crazy dogmatists? Those cafeteria munchers? The media? Relativism? Lazy parents? Sports events on Sunday? The sex abuse scandal? The lack of eucharistic adoration? I need to focus my frustration on someone, because I really want to pummel someone into the ground about this. Please help!
Channeling divine vengeance,
(Although there was a bit of a tussle in heaven over who got a crack at this first, St. Teresa of Avila is tapped to answer the question.)
My dear sister in Christ,
This is not the reason numbers have dropped, but I want you to stop and consider one phrase: The Inquisition.
Now, as an unworthy one attempting to be faithful through the pure grace of Our Majesty, I do not wish to brag. I simply wish to remind you that the Inquisition was a concrete reality in my day, and the Inquisitors questioned my work and the mystical gifts I received from God. It was not pleasant. Then my order gave me all kinds of difficulty in creating a more strict observance of the Carmelite charism. My most honorable Padre Juan was kept in solitary confinement from members of the order for a time. It was not a good moment in the history of the Catholic Church, let's say. Perhaps you've heard of it.
So how did we respond?
We became saints.
Think about it.
Of course, it's important to look soberly at why people leave, or drift, from the Church. Such education may provide a clue to self-correction. It also will humble us, and we need that. But we know what we need to do: we need to devote ourselves, heart and soul, to Christ. And living such a life is an inspiration to others. They want to know what makes you tick. I tell you, I didn't want to write any of those books. But I was ordered to, and I think this is why. Tearing ourselves apart inspires no one but Satan. Be single-minded. Authentic devotion to God is the greatest evangelical aphrodisiac we have.
Allow God to make you a saint, Madeleine. Being in love with Him is great; you'll drop that vengeance like a hot potato (which it is). And you may play a big part in boosting the Catholic Church in America to boot.
In the Joy and Goodness of Christ,