Welcome and Welcome Back!

04-09-2023Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Alexis de Tocqueville in his much-quoted “Democracy in America” wrote: “Our descendants will tend more and more to be divided into only two parts, those leaving Christianity entirely and others entering into the bosom of the Roman Church.” Was he correct and if so, what evidence do we have?

At this time of year with so many new members added to the Church in America thanks to the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults, Tocqueville’s words seem to be spot on. Well almost anyway. This is not a question of bragging or an attitude of triumphalism. It’s a humble recognition that the breadth and depth of Catholic teaching resonates well with the mind of free people. So, we welcome here at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, all the newly baptized and confirmed men and women whom today we can call fellow Catholics.

In this age of secularism and even religious hostility why is it that so many continue to embrace the Catholic Faith? Again, Tocqueville seems to have got it right:

The men of our days are naturally little disposed to believe; but as soon as they have any religion, they immediately find in themselves a latent instinct that urges them unconsciously towards Catholicism. Many of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church astonish them, but they feel a secret admiration for its discipline, and its great unity attracts them.

On the flip side, we also unfortunately, see many Catholics walk away from the Church. This happens especially when anyone sets him or herself up to disregard a specific teaching of the Church. Once we give ourselves permission to do or believe something different, we are usually on the way out the door. We hear this when we are told things like: “who is the Church to tell me how to live or what to believe”. Somehow in those statements we set ourselves up as the authority in opposition to the Church. We also do this when we say, “well I can be a Catholic and believe something contrary to church teaching”, “pro-choice Catholic” comes to mind. Many who take a position contrary to the orthodox position consider themselves ‘enlightened’ but ‘authentic’. Tocqueville hit on this as well:

One of the most ordinary weaknesses of the human intellect is to seek to reconcile contrary principles and to purchase peace at the expense of logic. Thus there have ever been and will ever be men who, after having submitted some portion of their religious belief to the principle of authority, will seek to exempt several other parts of their faith from it and to keep their minds floating at random between liberty and obedience. But I am inclined to believe that the number of these thinkers will be less in democratic than in other ages, and that our posterity will tend more and more to a division into only two parts, some relinquishing Christianity entirely and others returning to the Church of Rome.

So, on this Easter Sunday, we both welcome and welcome back. I affirm those who have listened to the voice of Christ calling them into the Church. The time, courage and effort that have been required to make this journey are just the beginning of their faith journey and all the many places it will take them and all the many challenges it will bring. To those who have left the Church or maybe sitting on the fence, I challenge you to carefully consider the faith that is your inheritance. And to ask yourself whether you have in an attempt to reconcile the challenges, difficulties and hurts of your life with the teaching of the Church sacrificed logic. And if you have, is the peace you’ve found really just an absence of conflict and unresolved spiritual struggle?

So, if you are new or trying to find your way back or just trying to figure out this thing we call “spirituality”, please accept our invitation to help you with this part of your journey. We have many opportunities here at the Parish for you to rediscover your faith and come to a fuller and mature understanding of Catholicism. In late summer, we will offer an open Inquiry Time for those who just want to dip their toe in the water! Additionally, we have our Christian Initiation of Adults and other Sacramental Formation Programs to guide you into the Catholic faith. Please let us know how we can assist you.

One more thought by Tocqueville: “The soul has wants which must be satisfied; and whatever pains are taken to divert it from itself, it soon grows weary, restless, and disquieted amid the enjoyments of sense.”

Find rest and satisfaction with the Risen Christ!


Fr. John B.