Nowadays, when we look around within the Holy Roman Catholic church, one cannot help but to notice that it is pretty much the same set of people who seem to be doing things or volunteering for activities in the church. Parishes that once had very vibrant choirs are now without any form of music. Parishes that once had a vibrant group of altar servers now have none. Parishes that once had very charismatic lectors who knew how to proclaim the Word, now have very few lectors who just barely read the Word of God and not Proclaim it. Many religious communities are getting smaller and smaller in number, and in some instances out on the verge of being closed. Many of our priest within the Archdiocese of Port of Spain are well over 50 years old with quite a number of them ailing.
This does not paint a very pretty picture of the Holy Roman Catholic Church that Jesus Christ left behind some 2000 years ago. In fact, at times it looks rather dismal. One is tempted to ask or wonder at times, “has God stopped calling people to serve him?” I believe the answer to that question is a resounding no! God has never stopped calling his people to himself. Added to which, Jesus promised in Matthew 16: 19 that the gates of the underworld can never hold out against the church He established.
God has never stopped calling his people into a deeper relationship with him. The problem is many refused to respond or the things of this world obscure the ability to hear God calling them. Father John Theodore the former spiritual director of Youth here in Trinidad and Tobago some years ago once shared a story of one of his visits to Haiti. He said that he was driving along the countryside in Haiti, when he noticed a very long line of people and the thought that they might have been lining up for food. He inquired as to what the line was about and was told that those people were lining up because a Catholic priest is due to visit that area to hear confessions. Fr. John was told that in many instances, persons would have walked for many many miles to get to that place to attend the sacrament of reconciliation. Fr. John shared that he was somewhat angry, angry because he knew in his heart that it was not right for anyone to have to go through that type of difficulty to experience God’s mercy. He said that he knew in his heart that it was not that God has abandoned the people of Haiti but rather those who God called to the priesthood to serve the people of Haiti did not respond to the call.
As Christians and as followers of Jesus Christ, our responsibility for the world is not a question of choice, nor is it a question of not liking those sort of things. Jesus commands us in Matthew chapter 25 verse 31 to 45 to get involved in the Affairs of this world. Our salvation depends on it! In that Passage he describes two sets of people – those who get involved, and those who do not get involved. The passage also highlights the rewards that await each group of persons. There will be those who will inherit eternal life and there will be those who will inherit eternal damnation – all born out of their responding to God’s call, or failure to answer the call.
This aspect of FullyCatholic.Com was born out of the reality that a vast number of our priests here in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad are over age 50. Added to this, quite a number of them are ailing as well. Very recently here at a Corpus Christi march in Port of Spain, I looked at those who were participating, in particular a group of nuns, and I realized that they too had similar challenges. In fact, quite a number of our convent may be on the verge of closing down because their numbers are dwindling so rapidly. When all this is put into perspective, the future does not look very good for the Catholic Church here in Trinidad and Tobago. Eucharistic services are becoming more of a norm than an exception and the once familiar site of religious orders present at the celebration of the Eucharist and other church related activities, is getting smaller and smaller, and in some instances is completely absent. Many of our Catholic schools that were once run by religious orders and now being run by ordinary persons and in some instances non-Catholics.
This problem, the lack of responding to the call affects not only the religious life and Priestly order but the whole of the Catholic Church. We’re not seeing very many person stepping forward to assist, to give of their time and their talents in any aspect of the church. The vast majority of Catholics who attend Mass seem to be quite contented to play the KFC role – they rush in, collect their order and rush back out. For most, the one hour that is spent at Mass is seen as “fulfilling their obligation.”
At the very root of this problem is the failure to see and to recognize that the spiritual aspect of our being is of utmost importance. Most cannot see the Holy Mass beyond “fulfilling their weekly obligation” and once those obligations have been fulfilled they’re not willing to do anything more. Because of that lack of foresight, many Catholics devote most of their time treasure and talent to the things of this world while the things that would benefit them spiritually are given the dregs.
Now, when we add this challenge to the fact that our world in general is extremely noisy, the average person just will not hear God speaking to them in the stillness of their hearts. So it is not an issue that God has stopped calling people into deeper relationship with Him. He still is!. The real challenge in answering the call is that many do not or cannot hear because their lives are so noisy.
Throughout this section of FullyCatholic and on the corresponding Facebook page, we hope to present to you, the testimonies of those who have heard the call of Christ upon their lives and who have answered that call. We also hope to present to you some simple exercises that will help you to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking quietly in your heart.
We Need Your Help.
While I may have spoken a lot about the situation in Trinidad, it appears that this is a global issue in the Church. Now because of the power of the internet and of Facebook, the reach will not just be Trinidad and Tobago but the whole world. Our sincerest prayer is that what is posted will be seen by those that God is calling and it will help them to say “yes”.
We would therefore love to get testimonies from you or someone you know (preferably video), who serve in any ministry in the Catholic Church. The camera capabilities of the average smartphone makes video recording quite easy. Below is a link to a small document that outlines the format we would like each short testimony to have. When you are ready with your video, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will tell you how to get your video to us.