Final Thoughts from L.A.

Here are the things I’m reminded of every year at the LA Religious Education Congress--which ended today with a lively Mass celebrated by Roger Cardinal Mahony--and which I sometimes forget during the rest of the year. First: The Catholic church is alive because the People of God are alive with the Spirit. Look, it’s easy to get dispirited when you read stories of clergy sexual abuse, of parishes closing down, of pastors absconding with money, and so on. But just a few minutes at the Anaheim Convention Center, which was thronging with energetic, dedicated and enthusiastic lay people, offsets if not those concerns, then at least the pessimism that those concerns sometimes bring. In the past few days I have met dozens of directors of religious ed, catechists, deacons, pastors, religious ed teachers eager to spread the Gospel in their parishes. Most inspiring for me are the young (say, around 20 or so) lay workers who congregate at Congress. Two of them, a young man and a young woman who are church workers and repeat visitors at LA, and who have become my friends, have an energy that must be near the energy and enthusiasm of the early disciples. Perhaps the next best thing to "consolation without prior cause" for inspiring me in the Catholic life is meeting young people on fire with the desire to do great things for God and for the church. Second: The Roman Catholic Church in this country continues to assume a wonderful, darker complexion. Yes, I know we write about this in the magazine often; and yes, I’ve read all the studies that talk about the colossal influx of a new cohort of ethnic groups, but there is nothing like seeing thousands of Hispanic parishioners strolling through the grounds of the largest Catholic convention in the country, wearing T-shirts proclaiming the names of the parish, attending Spanish-language Masses and seminars, strolling arm in arm with one another laughing, and talking excitedly to one another, to convince you that the church in this country is changing, and that this change is infusing new life and vitality into our community. Gracias a Dios! Third: Catholic publishing is alive and well. Sure, the book (qua book) is eventually supposed to die out. (I doubt it, though.) And, sure, it’s harder and harder in this economy for any business to do well. But when confronted with acres of stalls that display books that can satisfy almost any spiritual need--a veritable ocean of good books--it reminds you that there should be no reason for Catholics ever to lament, "I’ve got nothing to read." Anyway, I thought you might like some good news, of the small "g" and small "n" type. Sometimes good news like this can help us to spread the real Good News. James Martin, S.J., in Los Angeles
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
11 years 10 months ago
Dear Father Martin, Iread your blog and was delighted to hear your observations re:.LA . i ws pleased to see that you had a chance to meet my wonderful daughter, Catherine Mifsud. She is , i am sure, one of those two young folks you refered to in this blog. We are proud of her, and we are inspired by her and her work. Bless you Bill and Pauline Mifsud.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Security forces and others walk past the wreckage of vehicles after a vehicle bomb attack on a security checkpoint located near the presidential palace, in Mogadishu, Somalia, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
The Department of Homeland Security chose not to redesignate Somalia as a T.P.S.-eligible state, a move sought by advocates. Jill Marie Bussey, advocacy director for Clinic, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, called that decision “senseless and cruel.”
Kevin ClarkeJanuary 27, 2020
Kendra Espinoza, center, stands with her daughters Naomi and Sarah outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 22. Ms. Espinoza is the lead plaintiff in a case that could have major implications for the future of Catholic schools. (AP Photo/Jessica Gresko)
Can a state offer tax credits to help fund scholarships to Catholic schools? The Supreme Court could say yes, writes John T. James, if it can get past a notorious amendment in 37 state constitutions.
John T. JamesJanuary 27, 2020
A female migrant carrying a child moves away from Mexican National Guards blocking the passage of a group of Central American migrants near Tapachula, Mexico, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. Hundreds of Central American migrants crossed the Suchiate River into Mexico from Guatemala Thursday after a days-long standoff with security forces. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
More than 2,000 Central Americans, part of the latest migrant caravan attempting to reach the United States, passed by this Casa del Migrante as they fled a worsening situation of violence, state corruption and systemic poverty in their home nations.
Jackie McVicarJanuary 27, 2020
Allow yourself to be led through the coming year by St. Mark, who wants nothing more than for you to meet Jesus in his Gospel.
James Martin, S.J.January 27, 2020