When big news breaks as it did today with the release of “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority” by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, I sometimes pause to think about the majority of the Catholics I know.
While we in the blogosphere are running from Twitter to Facebook to the blogs in search of informed perspectives, I’d venture to say that most of the folks sitting near us in the pews have no idea that such a Vatican document has even been released.
This perspective became very clear to me during a recent speaking engagement I had. I was meeting with a group of parents for their “whole family catechesis” night of education while their children were off in their religious education classrooms. The topic that night was “Saints” — obviously something very near and dear to my heart. The group assembled were a variety of ages and life stages, married (or not) and mostly with relatively young children. All had given up an evening at home on a busy weeknight after a full day of work to be at church with their children. They were attentive, tuned in and obviously very caring about the faith formation of their little ones — but also their own as well.
About midway through the talk, something made me think of some of the recent and very high profile “priest situations” we’ve been facing in the Church. I made a reference during my talk about Father Frank Pavone and Priests for Life. The comment was met with blank stares, a total absence of recognition. I then asked the group outright, “Has anyone ever heard of Father Frank Pavone?” Nothing.
To further test the situation, I asked, “How about Father John Corapi. John Corapi — anyone?” Again, nothing.
“Wow,” I thought to myself. “Imagine how much time and energy has been spent in the Catholic blogosphere the past few months discussing not only these two men, but other similar situations and these people are completely unaware.”
The truth of the matter is that being “up to date” on much of these news is absolutely no indication of the level of commitment to one’s faith. I often think that if I spent the time I fritter away online praying instead, the state of my soul would be much better.
My point? Much will be made this week about this new Vatican document. We can, and should, inform ourselves about what the Pontifical Council has stated and not rely on the news media to translate the documents for us. But we also need to work daily — each in our own “Little Ways” — towards the end goal of that work: an increased attentiveness toward the “common good”. My challenge to myself is not only to find time to read (or at least read about) the document from reliable sources, but then to take that knowledge and to make change in my own little corner of the world.
Pat asked earlier this morning that I speak about a few of the saints I cover in A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms who have made a difference in my life. I still intend to do that in the hours I have remaining here at Elizabeth’s place. At the moment, the one who comes to mind is St. Katharine Drexel, who employed her personal resources and placed her life of luxury on hold to minister in a very hands on way to the poor and disenfranchised around her. It was this pioneering missionary who stated:
“If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to him and to them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is Joy that invites us. Press forward and fear nothing.”
For me, on a day such as this, these words remain a call to action.