Church Cannot Sell God as a Product
‘What do you want to be remembered for?” This was the question my wife recently asked me during our fortnightly date.
At first I couldn’t answer the question, but it got me to think deeper regarding the basis of where the question was coming from.
With much anxiety I am working tirelessly to get my career to where I desire it to be, but often things don’t work out the way they should. From my entertainment brand to my radio career and other projects I have in the pipeline, it seems like I am a little busy bee suckling on every flower without producing much honey.
So, as I waste time scrolling through Facebook posts and stalking my favourite influencers on Instagram, the clock ticks and so does my life. I am getting older each day, and I needed to reflect even more on that question my wife asked me.
During quiet time, prayer and meditation, I contemplated what I’d want to be remembered for.
One Person’s Life
I came to the conclusion that I would like to be remembered for making a difference in someone’s life. I may have the ability and opportunity to engage with hundreds upon thousands of people through my entertainment and broadcast careers, but I would like to change just that one person’s life and have them add that value to the lives of others as well.
As the Church modernises and evolves, and struggles too with that anxiety of where we would like to see it, how much of a real influence are we as a Church community on the lives of others? Are we truly adding value to the lives of the faithful or are our Sunday Masses, our services, our youth sessions and spiritual experiences dull, boring and lacking a sense of spiritual nourishment and encounter?
What, fundamentally, if the world would come to an end tomorrow, would we as Church be remembered for?
In our daily lives, living the faith can be difficult, but I think we disable ourselves by not catechising ourselves through reading and asking faith-related questions and assisting others with their journey of faith or conversion.
We don’t read the Bible nearly as much as we should, we don’t take the proper time to pray as a family, and if many of us look at our lives, we live so far away from being authentically Christlike.
There is a particular exercise I do with youth at schools where they look into a magnified mirror of themselves and have to say what they see. Forget the pimples, the blemishes, the scars from the past, but what they really see is the challenge.
What Will We the Church Be Remembered For?
By looking in the mirror, we need to, as a Church, see ourselves for who we really are, authentically. Yes, we are a weak and broken people, we have hurt others, we have been hurt ourselves, we are not perfect, but when we go into our places of work, school and study, what will we be remembered for?
As the Church shifts with the times, sadly it seems like the authenticity of what makes us truly Catholic is lost in a cat-and-mouse chase of wanting to discard our orthodoxy to be hipper and more appealing but we are losing our sense of identity in the process.
I am not a traditionalist in any sense; I love, and I embrace, the Holy Spirit renewing and changing the Church. I embrace Pope Francis challenging archaic structures and traditions which can be changed.
But we need to change for the better. It’s like we are hiding behind a mask, pretending to be who we are not.
I myself hid behind many masks after being bullied at school, but I needed to learn to find my own voice, to find my true identity, and to be fully authentic not only with others but with myself as well.
So, are we truly the Church we say we are, the people on our knees in service of one another, our hands raised in thanksgiving, our heads bowed in adoration, our shoulders there to be cried upon, our arms to give a warm embrace, our hands to do the work of God, our mouths to profess his love, and our hearts to show his mercy?
Lack of Authenticity
I read an article online a few weeks back, and in it the author wrote that many millennials are leaving the Church not because of a lack of cool, but because of a lack of authenticity.
We are living a faith of pretence trying to sell God off as a product, not realising that what could perhaps set us apart could be that relationship we have with Christ and the relationships we build with one another.
We need to be a Church living the faith, moving, shifting, being an example of what it means to be a Church which lives, breathes and has its being because of the Holy Spirit leading it through each one of us.
It’s time to take the faith into our homes, our friendship circles, our places of work and the world at large, and be witnesses to the love of who God is within us.