Yes, almost everywhere parish life is a struggle, but fear not, everything is in hand.
Here in St. Senan’s we’re struggling financially, we’re struggling to get a days adoration covered – last Tuesday I had to repose the Blessed Sacrament to make a house call – and we’re struggling to pass on the basics to the next generations.
Yes, I know too well that we’re few in number and the few carry an increasing load.
Most people view these difficulties as symptoms of a dying church. I don’t believe that at all!
When they were killing Jesus, they believed they were doing one thing; Heaven was doing something else, something very different. Keep this in mind; what’s happening is the opposite to how it looks.
This is classic Heaven, so far above and beyond us that we think we know what’s happening but the wisdom of God makes complete fools of us!
Seriously, we need to at least consider the possibility that it’s not the church that’s dying but that God is stepping back.
This happens because God – the whole of Heaven – will always respect human freedom and will remain outside human affairs until invited in. Of course, God still holds all things in being, but he’ll not interfere in our affairs until he’s invited to do so.
We need to get this: Heaven’s respect for human freedom is absolute. Absolutely non-negotiable. Until invited in – typically the profession of faith – God allows human freedom to run its course.
Human freedom running its course without God will always create Hell.
This was the message of Fatima at the height of World War I; unless human freedom returns to God it will slowly create World War II – and 70 years after World War II we’re still dealing with the legacy of it all!
This is the reason I don’t get too excited about the future of the church, about stuff like the absence of young people. The future of the church is already in hand! It’s in hand in the very struggles we’re experiencing as a community. We’re just not reading the signs correctly. This is not a generation or even a number of generations walking away from the church, rather this is God standing back and allowing human freedom to run its course – a course that will bring humanity to its knees.
When it has run its course, and it’ll be a difficult course – the signs are already there – God will once again be centre stage. The very most we can do is work to soften all this, soften the return of human freedom to God.
This is the primary reason then that we need to reach people, young people included, it’s not really about the church at all, it’s about the very future of humanity, about the level of struggle that we’re creating for ourselves and future generations as human freedom slowly comes to its knees.