Defeating the Poverty of Indifference

Posted at Catholic Insight

prayerOn a wet, chilly Saturday morning in October, something wonderful but odd happened at my parish. Wonderful because it was the Mass at which the young confirmandi and their parents took part in a Confirmation Enrollment Ceremony. Odd because the promises that parents and the confirmandi were asked to make ought to be obvious and as natural as breathing for all who were there.

We the parents of the Confirmation class promised to support our children by attending Mass each week and living a Catholic way of life. The confirmandi promised to attend Mass each Sunday, pray regularly, try to love others and be aware of their Christian responsibility in responding to the needs in their home, parish and community.

My seventh child is receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Spring and as I read the promises and prayers along with the other parents, I silently wondered why we even had to make this pledge. As Catholic parents, this should be a given –  prayer, Mass and Catholic living should be part of our family’s routine. But looking around at the other participants, I saw some bored, listless teenagers and parents who didn’t know the Mass responses. Sadly, these were people who didn’t care.

In the First Communion class that I teach, I am once again asking parents of the children to practice making the Sign of the Cross with them. At least half of the more than twenty students haven’t been taught properly, if at all. In honour of October as the month of the rosary, and in response to Pope Francis’ consecration of the world to Mary, we learned about Our Lady of Fatima and prayed one decade of the rosary. Most of the kids had never prayed the rosary. Many of them couldn’t pray the Hail Mary or the Our Father from memory.

At this point I could get on my high-horse and wag my finger at all those less than perfect Catholic parents but what purpose would that serve except to shine a blinding spotlight on my own faults? If my mission as a catechist and as a child of God is to witness and spread the news of God’s love, then having a “you should” attitude is just plain wrong. Besides, it doesn’t work.

How do we change this lack of caring, this poverty of indifference? How do we make the Catholic Faith so attractive that we can do away with promises to attend Mass and kids who fumble with their beads instead of leading the rosary.

Here’s my idea. We can start by persistently praying this: Lord make me holy.

Real, down-to-earth, joyful holiness is attractive. It is overflowing with humility and trust and it witnesses to a personal relationship with Christ. It doesn’t preach at, condemn or point fingers. It is on fire with love of God and neighbour. It will, as Servant of God, Catherine Doherty wrote “set sparks in the hearts of others…Even a few drops of love, of charity, are significant in a sea of complacency, indifference or poverty.”

So that’s the answer? We start with our own desire for holiness. We allow the Holy Spirit to ignite us with love and with our life we share that love with others. We share the beauty of the Catholic Faith and people will find it attractive. Before we know it, the spark of desire is kindled and the poverty of indifference is defeated. It is replaced by authentic Catholic living and zealous hearts on fire.

So once again, pray it with me: Lord make me holy.

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11 Responses to Defeating the Poverty of Indifference

  1. Love this post. It strikes me, because I see many of the same things. I don’t claim to be holy, but I know I work hard at teaching my children their faith. How do I know? Because many of the times, I am the only one in a crowd reinforcing these values and traditions of our church. Prayer. It is everything in this world.

  2. SaintlySages says:

    Yes, God provides the wind, but we must raise the sail. God bless!

  3. LOVE THIS! One thing I don’t miss about teaching religious ed is the gossip between the catechists about which family doesn’t actually attend Mass, which kids don’t know which prayers… Were those families to hear all that nonsense, they’d dash on over to the nearest non-denom church at best, back to their TVs at home at worst. Faith must be caught, and as we all know, you can’t catch something if you seek to avoid it. How we live our faith must be appealing enough to “catch”! Okay, vent over!

  4. I well know the “you should” attitude doesn’t garner positive results but I have been wondering about this for some time now. When we share our faith just to share (for instance certain devotions or the value of confession) and others get defensive or think you’re judgmental, how do we make them want to be holy and willing to learn? Is it enough to pray Lord make them want to be holy? Is it we have to wait on the grace of God? And then BAM, you had the answer: it starts with us being holier to spark the flame– so man, I’ve got work to do.

  5. Planting Potatoes says:

    amen…..David cried many times asking God to give him a clean heart so he could be righteous….if you don’t mind another analogy…the lord provides for the birds….provides the worm, but he doesn’t put it in the nest…..

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