Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Survey: New Hampshire residents losing their religion


"Sixty-two percent of New Hampshire adults identified themselves as Christians last year, the American Religious Identification Survey for 2008 reported. This is a 23 percent decline from 1990, when 85 percent of adults called themselves Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants and other Christians...Northern New England now surpasses the Pacific Northwest as the most irreligious region of the country, according to the survey...The survey, released on Monday, reports 29 percent of New Hampshire adults say they have no religion." (For full article, click on title of this post).

This fact imposes a burden on those of us who claim to be disciples of Christ. The Council Fathers tell us that, "..the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth. Thus every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself, 'according to the measure of Christ's bestowal...For all their works, prayers, and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne - all these become 'spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ' (1 Pt 2:5). Together with the offering of the Lord's Body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God." (Lumen Gentium, Nos. 33, 34 of the Second Vatican Council).

What are we waiting for? Haven't we been told that the Lord Himself will demand an account of the talents He has given us (Mt 25: 14-30). Do we really want to be among those who are relegated to the "darkness outside" because we succumbed to fear or apathy? Blessed Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was right when he said, "There is but one fatal illness, one deadly mistake you can make: to settle for defeat, not to know how to fight with the spirit of a child of God. If this personal effort is lacking the soul becomes paralyzed and languishes alone, and is incapable of bearing fruit. Such cowardice on man's part puts pressure on Our Lord to utter those words addressed to him by the paralytic at the pool of Bethsaida, hominem non habeo! - I have no man to help me. What a pity if Jesus does not find in you the man or the woman he expects."

A 7 year-old girl named Heather McNamara has shown great courage and determination not to settle for defeat. Surely we can follow her example and show courage in the spiritual realm? Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J., did. His crime? Celebrating the Holy Mass. His punishment? Execution. The above photograph shows Blessed Pro just moments before he was gunned down. He extended his arms and proclaimed, Viva Christo Rey! - Long live Christ the King!
His love overcame his fear. He did not settle for defeat. He conquered his executioners with faith. hope and love. In the eyes of the world, he suffered defeat. But where is he now? And where are his executioners? Who really won the victory? You know the answer.

7 comments:

Stewart said...

Blessed Pro did. Amor vincit omnia - love conquers all. We need to have the same courage and conviction he did. The same courage and conviction of all the martyrs. We may "only" be called to a "dry martyrdom." The martyrdom of unpopularity or persecution. This too is a heavy cross. But no one said being a Christian would always be easy.

Jonathan said...

We should all imitate Blessed Pro's heroism and that of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. As faith dims in this country and around the world, expect the hatred toward Christians to explode.

Anonymous said...

Teo recent quotations suggest reasons for the decline of religion (specifically the Catholic Faith) in New Hampshire.

One is from an article in the latest issue of the Jesuit-edited America magazine, “Then There Was One: The unraveling of Catholic health care,” by Daniel Sulmasy, a Franciscan Brother and medical doctor. While it speaks of Catholic hospitals and health care in America, it can be applied to the unraveling of the Catholic Church and culture in America:

Catholics are opting for secular values. Exceedingly few people, including Catholics, seem to have noticed that there has been an 89 percent reduction in the number of Catholic hospitals in New York City in a very short period of time. I suspect one reason is that Catholics no longer prize Catholic institutions … Many Catholic institutions were founded because Catholics could not break through barriers of prejudice. As Catholics have become part of the mainstream, they no longer need such institutions for access to services.
But something has also been lost—a culture, a spirit and a community of faith. In a consumer society, people seek the best brand. Parents who once sent their children to Fordham now send them to Harvard. Even Cardinal O’Connor, when diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1999, sought care at Memorial Sloan Kettering rather than at St. Vincent’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. Medically, Memorial offered nothing that St. Vincent’s could not have offered for his cancer, but St. Vincent’s could have offered also a spiritual atmosphere and approach to palliative care that Memorial cannot match. Excellence and compassion are not antithetical. Catholic institutions can offer both in a truly distinctive way.


The other is the article from the March 10th issue of the Union Leader on “NH residents losing their religion.” It is the reaction of Kevin Donovan, spokesman for the Diocese of New Hampshire, to the survey. His comments can be described as "clueless."

"The church in New Hampshire is facing challenges similar to our church and to other faiths throughout the country … This is one reason our efforts at evangelization are as important now as they have ever been … At the same time, we are also seeing people of faith more engaged than ever before in the Catholic Church." He said laity are more involved in parish life, new charitable initiatives have been introduced, and lay education, youth and young adults programs have been launched.

Brandon said...

The Catholic Church in New Hampshire is in crisis. And most of the pastors don't seem to get it. I agree with anonymous, Kevin Donovan appears clueless. I have attended 6 parishes in and around Manchester over the last 8 years. I never felt welcomed. The people and the pastors were cold and indifferent. About as much warmth in those parishes as one would find at the North Pole.

Why the lack of charity? Because the faith is dying here in NH. A church which has been riddled with sexual abuse and related scandals and uncaring pastors have contributed to the declining numbers of faithful.

PMG said...

Hi,

Excellent blog.

Yes, the Granite State is only surpassed by the People's Republic of Vermont in their lack of religiosity. I have seen other surveys/studies that showed that those who were more religious voted for McCain, and those that were not voted for Obama.

This would be confirmed in the 2008 elections here in that the state is now dark blue, and every anti-life candidate on the ballot was elected (Shaheen/Hodes/Obama/Shea-Porter).

My wife and I are seriously considering relocating to the Southwest so as to be around more like-minded individuals. Although this seems to be a short-term fix, as the trend is workong its way from West and East Coasts working its way to the center.

It might be cold comfort, but I was listening to a podcastDoxaPod Audio, where the topic was similar to this topic, and he posed that there was never a better time to be a Catholic, and it was never easier to be a Saint than it is today.

His point was, simply being what would be considered an "ordinary" Catholic of 50 years ago, makes you an extraordinary Catholic today.

Or, using a secular axiom...In the valley of the blind, the one eye'd man is King.

Again, cold comfort, but it keeps me going.

Pax

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Vermont...it's not just a state, it's a commune. Good comment PMG. It was Oswald Spengler who, back in 1926 (talk about being a prophet) wrote a warning to the Western Nations: "You are dying. I see in you all the characteristic stigma of decay. I can prove that your great wealth and your great poverty, your capitalism and your socialism, your wars and your revolutions, your atheism and your pessimism and your cynicism, your immorality, your broken-down marriages, your birth-control, that is bleeding you from the bottom and killing you off at the top in your brains - can prove to you that these were characteristic marks of the dying ages of ancient states - Alexandria and Greece and neurotic Rome." (Decline of the West).

Read the comments left by intolerant secularists at the Union Leader article. What are these but signs of decay?

Matlee said...

I am ashamed at the behavior of some of my fellow New Hampshire residents. Their comments about Christianity are abhorrent.

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