Dear Parishioners: It has often been said that “history repeats itself.” It was this thought that came to mind as I reflected upon our recent national election. The election results indicate that we are a nation politically divided, the red states and the blue states as it is often described. But for me what is even more troubling is the fact that we seem to be a nation deeply divided on some very fundamental issues about the sanctity of human life and dignity, the nature and meaning of marriage, our obligations to the poor and needy, and the free exercise of religion and conscience. In some ways it seems we are a nation divided by those who have religious faith and those who do not have any religious faith.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center indicates that the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public - and a third of adults under 30 - are religiously unaffiliated today. Nearly 33 million people say they have no particular religious affiliation. While those Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation, the Catholic Faith has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes. While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic. Very alarming statistics indeed!
These statistics suggest that many in our nation “want a king without the kingdom; a shepherd without the other sheep; a father, with us as the only child; a general without an army; to believe without belonging.” Upon reflecting on the growth in secularism the U.S. Bishops state: “there are many men—and their number is daily increasing—who in practice live their lives without recognizing that this is God's world. For the most part they do not deny God. On formal occasions they may even mention His name. But they fail to bring an awareness of their responsibility to God into their thought and action as individuals and members of society.” The rise of secularism is not new as history does seem to repeat itself. You see the statement above was written in 1947 not 2012! And over twenty years earlier in 1925 Pope Pius XI established the great feast we celebrate this weekend, the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. He did so as an antidote to the growth of secularism especially in Europe in the 1920s. The feast proclaims in a striking and effective manner Christ's reign over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.
Let’s prayerfully reflect upon these startling statistics as we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. And as we begin to prepare for the holy season of Advent next week, let us pray for all those alienated from God and Church, all those lost and confused about Christ and His teachings, and for ourselves and our parish family that we may always let our Lord and King, Jesus Christ rule our hearts and homes. Together let us echo the last words of the Blessed Martyr Miguel Pro: “Long live Christ the King!”