Friday, September 4, 2009

What Undermines Faith?

New York Newsday newspaper has a weekly faith question that is asked of clergy and ministers. A recent question was, "What Most Undermines Faith Today?" Here is a sampling of the answers. I think it's worth repeating here, since this is a big problem today for most clergy, ministers, nuns, deacons and laypeople who are trying to evangelize and "convince" people (most especially teens and young adults) that faith, religion, prayer and worship are important for children and adults in the fast-paced, anxiety-filled, modern world we live in. I believe it's absolutely necessary for a well balanced, fulfilling and enriched life.
So here are some of the answers-from Rabbi Bennett Hermann, Temple Emanu-El of Long Beach, NY, (living in Long Beach, the city by the sea probably gives this Rabbi plenty of time to reflect near the seashore)-I personally believe that our age has gone overboard in its almost absolute allegiance to the scientific method and to technological advancement. We tend to believe and worship only that which we can scientifically prove. Whatever happened to our relationship to the spiritual-to that which we cannot see but to which we can feel within the depths of our hearts and souls. Love your neighbor as yourself; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. What will it take to return us to the faith of our fathers and mothers-to believe in the one and living God....."
Dr. Anila Midha, president of the India Association of Long Island in Jericho wrote this, There are so many distractions these days with computer technology and other forms of communication. We spend so much time communicating with others that we don't take time to communicate with God. You see people with iPods, iPhones, using the Internet and other devices that they don't have time left to think about God and pray......."
A Protestant Pastor, James Steffens, from East Northport wrote the following and I think this is a major problem, As many people as there are, there are that many hindrances to maintaining an active faith. But if I were going to pick one, I think the main culprit undermining a vibrant relationship with God is over-commitment....People are taking on extra hours or working two jobs. ..By the time we get through paying for all our stuff, there's little left. And then we take that time and cram it with school activities, Little League, dance recitals........God gets the scraps that may be left over......Ultimately our souls and the souls of our families are more important than anything else. 
Yes, he's absolutely right, over-commitment is a big problem which keeps individuals and families with so much to do, there is little time left for prayer, worship and reflection.  Some people make it a priority and they try very hard to keep the discipline. It's not easy. 
Prayer has a calming effect on my soul and being. Worshipping God at Mass and receiving Eucharist fills me with peace and nourishment and helps me to live in this fallen world. I personally could not do without it, it's a part of who I am and it enriches my life. I can't even imagine life without faith, prayer or worship. I can't imagine ever missing Mass on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I would feel as if I missed something of utmost importance for my well being. And also I feel called to worship God at Mass. 
Parents are trying to do their best but it's difficult to fit everything in a schedule. All of the activities that their children do: sports, music, entertainment, dance, etc. are, of course, important and rewarding but so is their spiritual development.
We have to reconvince people that giving time to their faith and spiritual development is important and time well spent.  Somehow in the modern world, people are losing a sense of that and it worries me.
(By the way, sometimes a Catholic priest or layperson who works for the Church is asked to respond to a faith question in the newspaper, but for this particular question, they didn't have such a response or I would have listed it.)

Enjoy the beautiful Labor Day Weekend!