Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Spiritual conversion comes FIRST"

Last week Sarah Karp published a good summary of the state of Catholic education in this country. Ms. Karp also did a good job both in identifying the problems facing Catholic schools and in pointing out the successes out there, few as they might be.

Her article, Final Exam: Can we reinvent Catholic schools?, can be found here.

One of those success stories mentioned by Ms. Karp was the Diocese of Wichita. In summarizing the Wichita story she wrote,

The Wichita difference? Its ability to persuade Catholic families to actively tithe in support of local schools.

That statement elicited the following response from a Wichita parent:

Thanks to Ms. Karp for examining trends in Catholic education in the United States.

As a parent in the Diocese of Wichita, one where 4 of our 5 children have benefited from "tuition-free" Catholic education, I would like to respectfully submit that "Wichita difference" goes deeper than the ability to persuade Catholic families to tithe in support of Catholic schools. This "ability to persuade" is rooted in a spiritual renewal--living as a grateful steward of God's gifts. Spiritual conversion comes FIRST, the time, talent and treasure follows.

So--our Liturgies are, for the most part, orthodox and invigorating, Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in parishes is among the highest found anywhere--even our moderately-sized parish of 550 families manages this round-the-clock devotion, and our priestly vocations are also among the highest in the country--44 are currently on the path to the priesthood.

The "Wichita difference" can be captured anywhere!

Isn't it amazing what orthodoxy can do?


Ben Anderson said...

that's such an important point, Mike. People are willing to support (w/ time and money) a cause that they believe in. The more the faith is watered down, the less desire there is to believe in it. It simply becomes a mirror, but people want to believe in something bigger than themselves. Our diocese seems to think only at a human level.

Nerina said...

This woman makes a critical point. At our church, people talk about conversion, but then provide no means to achieve and deepen our commitment to Christ. No one wants to talk about the hard work that conversion requires - the spiritual practices and devotions that not only mark us as "Catholic" but also form us and refine us. I hear alot about "being nice." Not so much about redemptive suffering, sacrificial love and self-discipline.

Ben, you're right about a watered-down faith. What's the point of giving of yourself for something that seems so trivial and unnecessary. Our churches are very much under the influence of relativism.

And yet, I know this can change, if only because I've witnessed it in my own family. Believe me, when I first started on this journey, I never would have seen myself or my husband as the Catholics we are today. It can be done, through the work of the Holy Spirit with willing souls. But someone has to speak up and present the Truth to people. I am thankful for those who did in my own life and challenged me to go deeper in the Faith.

Ben Anderson said...

well said, Nerina.

I can also reflect back and say I never pictured myself as a Catholic! Let alone one who embraces traditional Catholicism and practices such as Eucharistic Adoration and praying the rosary. Change is possible!