The Catholic Church struggles with issues from vocation shortages to dwindling attendance and financial woes. The Church has created the very predicaments she now tries to solve and yet remains ignorant of the cause. In clinical terms, She has become an enabler of her own problems.
For decades, families have drifted in their practice of the faith but present their babies for baptism. Children have received their first Holy Communion but are not seen back at Mass again until middle school. Parishes attempt to hold teens accountable for a short time before being confirmed yet their older sibling — and sometime parents — haven’t been seen in church in years, sometimes lured back by ski trips and ball games but not by the sacraments. Attendance is important in religious education classrooms but not at Mass.
The solution to the issues that plague the Church lies in the words preached but not witnessed. Parents promised to be the first teachers of their children in the faith but the parishes act as if they need to do that job for parents. Families who practice the faith at Mass and at home do not need traditional CCD programs. For the many families who do not practice the faith at Mass or at home traditional CCD programs are wasted.
The celebration of the Eucharist is the source and summit of a Christian life, not the parish’s religious education program. If the Church seeks to rebuild she must help families realize the importance of what it means to be Catholic — come back to the Eucharist and let Christ touch their hearts. Let parishes help parents teach the faith to their children and stop trying to do it for them.