By FATHER JIM CESTA
A recent survey about religion and faith in America discovered that the numbers of those who say they believe in God and are spiritual people actually has grown, but more and more say they just do not identify with a specific church or congregation.
On census forms they often check “none” where it says “Religion.” We call them the new “nones.”
Nearly one-third of adults younger than 35 are unaffiliated with any actual church body or parish . At the same time, we see a continuing interest in spiritual life, faith and a hunger for community and rituals that bring meaning to everyday lives.
Some say we are moving from an “Age of Belief” in creeds and doctrines, obligation and duty, to folks looking for an experience of God, rather than a religion about God. To encourage, especially our younger people, with a word about God that breathes new life, the spirit of Pentecost, this is our task.
I think it would make identifying with our Catholic ways more attractive and inviting if we, the “regulars,” exhaled a bit more the breath of new life instead of just duty, obligation or fear of God getting even. Our Catholic values, beliefs, worship, sacraments, sacred seasons, diversity of ages and cultures, styles and the joy of community have much to offer in these times of high-tech stress.
Our church isn’t perfect, nor will it ever be, but so many find so much in being identified as a Catholic and a companion of Jesus.
An older person once wrote: “How much I criticize you, my church, yet how much I love you. You have given much scandal, and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Countless times I felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face, and yet every night I pray that I might die in your embrace.”