Thursday, January 13, 2011


I grew up in a small city we were either related or knew most of the people in town. It was like the Kennedy Compound writ large and without any of the extravagance. It made getting into trouble very difficult. One day getting off of the school bus I ran out into the street or some stupid thing after which there was a short two block walk home. Mom was at the sink washing lettuce for dinner. “Do you have something to tell me?” she asked.

“No,” came the innocent sounding response.

“Are you sure?”

“I don’t think so.”

“What if I told you I got four phone calls since you got off the bus?”

“OH! THAT . . .”

This is one of the reasons I became a priest. It would be impossible for me to get away with anything anyway.

Sometimes it was hard living in such a close knit community, but it kept a lot of us out of a lot of trouble. (Side note – if you were not getting into any trouble it was actually kind of nice. Anybody see any correlation between those orders that welcomed the Vatican visitation and those that scorned it? But I digress . . .)

It was pointed out recently that most of our community safeguards are gone. We are more and more on our own. “Official” safeguards are all but useless. What word can’t you hear on television or what body parts can’t you see being used in graphic ways? The answers to both questions can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Neighborhoods are more fractioned. Way too often people do not know their neighbors let alone well enough to call and say, “I saw you child kicking Mrs. Longbottom’s trashcan.”

From the extreme of children being spanked at school and coming home and being spanked again because you did something that made a teacher spank you, we seem to be at the opposite end wherein if my kid did anything wrong, it is YOUR fault.

But even as adults we are more inclined to speak poorly about someone with poor taste than about their lax morals, a foul mouth, unfounded criticism of the faith, the watching of movies and television programs that are not very edifying to the soul – and if one does speak up they are labeled as condemnatory, strange, or prudish.

The safeguards are, in large part, gone. Being Christian, and I might add especially being Catholic, can no longer be done on autopilot. It takes the development of all the gifts of your confirmation – working them out as you do your muscles, to be Christian. You are needed to actively live your faith. You are needed to be a symbol – a sign post of the faith that others might notice and find hope for being a person of faith. This is what is needed – the replowing of the fields until the tide of faith rises once again and societal safeguards make it easier for us to live the faith as community.


Anonymous said...

You grew up okay, Father. It's different now. We have seventeen grandchildren . . . and they are growing up in a different way . . . and they are not bad kids . . . it's just different. I have to get used to it.

r m kraus

Matt W said...

This is surely the first time--and probably last--that I have seen Barberton compared to the Kennedy compound.

In some ways, living in an environment hostile to Christianity, and to Catholicism in particular, can make one's faith stronger and more precious.

Anonymous said...

Not only are the safeguards gone, there seems to be a non-stop campaign to do the opposite of what is true & good.

I long for a "Catholic Ghetto" and not of the Kennedy variety. For 40years we've been trying to lure the Protestants over by being more like them and all we've done is become them. Fish on Friday? Don't worry about! Confession? Once a year is OK. Fasting & penance? So midieval! Besides, I have to diet & go to the gym. Most of the Catholics I run into in the course of life are Cafeteria Catholics which is nothing more than Protestantism.

Father V you are right that "It takes the development of all the gifts of your confirmation – working them out as you do your muscles, to be Christian" but a Church that requires (not just "suggests") so little from its members will soon not have what it takes to take on the powers of darkness. (Yes, Cafe Catholics Satan does exist!)