Monday, February 28, 2011

Arrested Spiritual Development

Msgr. Charles Pope writes,
Consider a young adult, say 25, who had gone on to physical maturity, and even earned a college degree. Perhaps he has just landed a job in a cutting edge field and is both technically smart and talented. But, despite being a highly trained expert in his secular field, his spiritual development is arrested and he has progressed little since second grade. In some ways he has even gone backward since, in second grade, he still knew his Act of Contrition and the Hail Mary.

Now, though thank God, he still goes to Mass, he is incapable of expressing much of anything about his faith. He knows there is a God and has heard about Jesus but does not know for sure if Jesus is God, he thinks so but he’s not sure. He is aware of the Bible’s existence but cannot name all four Gospels and would not even be sure exactly where to find them in the book. He’d eventually find them but it would take a lot of time.  Names like Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, Peter, Judas, et al., sound familiar to him,  but he cannot tell you much about them, except that they are in the Bible. He has heard the word sacrament but cannot give an example of one and is not sure he’s received them or if that is just something priests and nuns get.  Every now and then he thinks to pray but he really does not know what to say or how to do it. Sometimes he remembers a prayer from Mass, but when he tries to say it, he gets stuck since there aren’t other people around him saying it and helping him along. He DOES know the Our Father though! We have to give him that.
Read the rest here.

My generation has had advantages in terms of formation that our parents lacked.  However, I fear that most young Catholics and indeed most Catholics in this country are in a state of arrested spiritual development.


  1. Have to agree with you to a large extent about formation. Although some of us of your parents generation did have a good base, a lot of damage was done after Vatican II by those "spirit of" gang. Fortunately the good stuck for me & I evetually recovered it & have allowed my faith to develop properly.
    I'd add stunted or malformed for many of my generation. The article does an excellent job of both looking at the problem. & from I have seen, the Washington Archdiocese, while not perfectly, is trying to do something about it.

  2. The article hits the nail on the head. I have to say I learned more in my one year of sponsoring a girl coming into the Church through RCIC than in my 8 years that I attended Catholic grade school. Catholic leaders really failed in catechizing in past generations. But, in most places I am not so sure it is much better now. It probably depends on the community, though.

  3. Al: All I really know about the Washington Diocese is what I read in Msgr. Pope's blog. If he is a good example of D.C. clergy I would say that the diocese is in good hands.

    Teresa: Good for you being a RICIC sponsor! I think that you're right about the importance of community. My family owes much of its spiritual development to the community of Catholic families in Tallahassee.