Courage and perseverance
Patrick Novecosky writes that it’s time for parents and teachers to step up . . .
Even for people with average powers of observation, it’s pretty obvious that most Catholics really don’t know their faith. Over the past four decades, unfortunately, most Catholic schools have failed to impart the truths of the faith to our children. And, even more tragically, most Catholic parents have also failed in this regard.
The results of this massive failure are manifold. Catholics’ divorce rate is virtually equal to that of everyone else. The number of religious vocations plummeted through the 1970s and ’80s (although there has recently been an uptick in dioceses and orders faithful to the Magisterium). And only 15% of Catholics born after the Second Vatican Council go to Mass every Sunday, according to a 2008 Georgetown University study.
Thankfully, organizations like Legatus exist to counter the downward spiral caused by those who have refused or neglected to transmit the faith to the next generation. Legatus’ mission statement “to live, learn and spread the Catholic faith” is truly at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus Christ. We must first learn the faith in order to live it, and if we’re not living our faith, we certainly can’t expect others to do the same.
This year’s annual Summit emphasized the basics: In order to be Catholic, you must know Jesus. (Click here for a related story.) Without that essential element, we’re just going through the motions. Uncatechized Catholics may think that we can get to heaven by being a “good person.” But Jesus himself told the rich young man that obeying the Commandments is not enough: “Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). Following Jesus means knowing Jesus.
In 1988, Pope John Paul II publicly encouraged Legates in their decision to follow Christ. “You have come to Rome in order to renew your determination to apply the teachings of Christ and his Church to the business world,” he said. “This determination, which is also the aim of your organization, is an important application of the commitment of your Baptism and Confirmation, an important expression of true Catholic life in accordance with the Gospel.”
Even though Legatus was only one year old at the time, John Paul understood the impact Legatus would have on the culture. He knew that an organization which emphasizes learning, living and spreading the faith among business leaders was necessary — and vital to counter the poor catechesis of decades past.
Pope Benedict XVI, too, understands Legatus’ impact. His greetings to Summit-goers virtually echo John Paul’s eternal charge to Legates: “The world needs genuine witnesses to Christian ethics in the field of business, and the Church asks you to fulfill this role publicly with courage and perseverance.” If every member lives that message, we can be sure that future statistics will look much different.
Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.