The Sky is Falling! Really?Bishop Tobin concluded his column with this great thought about the past, present and future of the Church and its mission:
For reasons that will become obvious, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the parable of the farmer walking down a rural road who came across a tiny sparrow, lying along side the road on his back, with his little feet up in the air.“What are you doing?” said the farmer to the sparrow. “I heard that the sky is falling and I want to do my best to hold it up,” responded the little bird. “That’s ridiculous,” declared the farmer. “First of all, the sky isn’t falling . . . And secondly, even if it is, your tiny feet won’t help very much.” “Well,” said the sparrow with determination, “One does what one can.”
I feel a bit like the sparrow these days, bombarded as I am with the daily reports about the decline and fall of the Catholic Church. “The sky is falling,” reports seem to confirm.
“Catholic weddings drop 71 percent in R.I.” announces one local headline, with the story not bothering at all to document a similar decline in weddings in other denominations and across the nation.
A letter from an individual in New York, sent to all the bishops of the United States, proclaims that “No intelligent Catholic can deny that there is a serious crisis in faith and morals in the Church. The lack of faith being shown here is frightening.” To document his argument, the letter writer points to the planned gathering of religious leaders in Assisi in October, “where false gods will be invoked,” and the fact that some priests fail to genuflect during the consecration at the Mass.
A letter from a friend in Pittsburgh laments the development of a Church that is peopled by, “a large contingent of secretive, sometimes power-hungry, reactionary cardinals and bishops; and a lower clergy increasingly enamored with its own exalted position who with many in the hierarchy are regressing to a former triumphal, controlling, irrelevant, pietistic, fundamentalist state.”
A famous theologian wrote this assessment about the Church: “People look upon the Church and say, ‘She is about to die. Soon her very name will disappear. There will be no more Christians; they have had their day.’”
Now it’s instructive to note that this rather dour prediction came not from the scribes of the “National Catholic Reporter” or the “New York Times.” This description of a dying Church was referenced by St. Augustine, 1600 years ago – a rather compelling reminder, I think, that the Church in every age has known its struggles and failures.
Does the Catholic Church of today have challenges, problems and failures? You bet. But I love this Church, I’m enormously proud of this Church, and despite my own limitations, imperfections and sins I’m going to work very hard to support its mission and ministry for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Why? Well simply because “one does what one can.”Click here for the rest of the column.
Thank you Bishop Tobin for being a true shepherd to the people of our Diocese. May God bless you and guide you in your ministry.
Bishop Tobin also recently did an interview with The Catholic World Report titled "Rediscovering Courage and Conviction where he discusses the problems of our culture and also the importance of truly living our faith in our daily lives. Below is a brief excerpt where he discusses authentic faith:
If our faith is authentic, it is effective and makes a difference in our daily lives. We can’t compartmentalize our lives, going to church for an hour on Sunday and then acting like pagans for the rest of the week. If our faith is authentic, then it touches every part of our lives: our work, our family lives, our community involvement, and the activities with which we entertain ourselves.
That has been one of the great failures of many of us in the Church—we do not incorporate our faith into our daily lives. Jesus said Christians are the salt of the earth and light of the world [Mt 5:13, 14]. As the Second Vatican Council taught, our faith is supposed to transform us, and then we move out into the secular world and transform it into the Kingdom of God.It is an outstanding interview and well worth the time to read it. After reading this interview and his column above, you will understand why shepherds like Bishop Tobin are a blessing to our Church.