Funny. Lately everybody’s abuzz about how the younger generation is falling away from the Church, becoming “nones” and turning their backs on religion. At least that’s what a recent Pew study shows.
The Catholic Church is done for, right? Wrong.
In the middle of all this hub-bub, I’m preoccupied with the struggle to assure that my dying mother receives the sacraments before she passes. It’s a complicated situation, but basically it boils down to the fact that, in her advanced stage of dementia, she believes she no longer needs them.
I know better.
And what I’m going through right now counters what the nay-sayers are spouting. A drop in numbers does not prove that the Church is no longer vital. It may be in decline, but it is not in demise. And it never will be.
Jesus said so himself:
Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:16-19)
Whenever folks start ragging on the Church, I go back to this tender scene between our Lord and Peter. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I believe that with my whole heart, mind, and soul because Jesus spoke those words himself. Jesus is God. He is incapable of lying, misspeaking, or misrepresenting. He is Truth.
Jesus himself instituted the sacraments, and because of that, I believe in them unquestioningly. He said, “This IS my Body…This IS my Blood…Do this in memory of me.” He did not say, “This is like my Body” or “This represents my Body.” If that’s the way is was supposed to be, that’s the way he would have said it. He also said, “Do this in memory of me.” That was a direction, not a suggestion.
And so I keep trying to make sure my mom is provided with the sacraments before her death. They are Life-giving, and she needs them, even though she doesn’t think so. Jesus promised this.
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.(Jn 6:53-57)
Jesus isn’t a liar.
It matters not to me what studies or skeptics say. I believe my Lord, and I believe that the Catholic Church is the one, true, Church. It’s the only religion founded by Jesus Christ himself and passed on in direct lineage (through Peter and the popes who succeeded him). All other faiths have been founded by human beings. That’s enough for me.
When people start throwing numbers of doom around in effort to discredit or dishearten the Church, I think back to the Last Supper.