Faith Drain: The Answer Is In Christ
From John Lee, Johannesburg – Why are young adults who are leaving the Church shortly after confirmation? From my experience with these people, they are primarily concerned with what’s central to the Gospel: knowing Jesus in a personal relationship.
Already in 1982 in the SACBC series Pastoral Action (No 34), in Why some Catholics join Evangelical Pentecostal Churches, our hierarchy wrote of their grave concern at the number of Catholics leaving the Church “for greener pastures”.
Those of us who have experienced the departure of loved ones for these often virulently anti-Catholic sects, will know the great pain and suffering it causes.
For years now theologians and those in the highest positions of Church leadership have been concerned that we Catholics are sacramentalised and not evangelised, that is brought into an effective relationship and experience with Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives.
When most Catholics are asked how they intend getting to heaven, or being saved, Jesus Christ is usually not even mentioned. This problem in the Church was first addressed by the English theologian Charles Davis shortly after Vatican II. He believed that zeal for renewal, liturgical reform, ecumenism, the biblical revival, and all the rest, may be used as a way of escaping God. Many, he said, ask “Who will speak to me quite simply of God, as a person he intimately knows?”
The more incessant our activity with subsidiary issues, the less need there is to confront the reality of God in our lives. A fear prevents us from admitting the emptiness we should find there. Many are guilty of ecclesiocentrism.
Catechism has often been presented as a tedious list of do’s and don’ts, a sort of philosophy, often with the values of the Gospel given prominence. But Christianity is love of a person: Jesus Christ.
On this issue, Pope John Paul had this to say on one of his American trips: “There are Catholics who have not experienced Christ personally, only the values of the Gospel; Christ as a mere paradigm, instead of the living Lord – the Way, the Truth and the Life” (L’Osservatore Romano, March 24,1993).
The answer to all our yearnings is Jesus Christ, for our hearts are restless till they rest in him. Catechists, in particular need to equip our young people with the basics of Catholic Christianity and their scriptural roots. Updated from 2009