Deacon Larry and I are involved in Baptismal Preparation. And of course Deacon actually Baptizes! Last Sunday he Baptized five beautiful babies. But Catholics are not immune to the cultural zeitgeist which does not value marriage or children.
These days the decline in marriage is very evident. In some of the smaller parishes there hasn’t been a wedding for several years. Even in the larger ones, as few as four or five a year isn’t uncommon.
Most of my information on this has been anecdotal until now. However, I was introduced to a great blog by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The Blog is Here: CARA Blog. There is lots of good data available and plenty of graphs and charts that paint a statistical picture of the Church. Some of the pictures are troubling indeed. Consider this one that depicts the decline in marraige and baptisms over the past 50 years:
You can click on the Chart to get a clearer picture. The chart depicts the number of marriages and baptisms per 1000 Catholics in the USA. As you can see, the number of baptisms has really plummeted from over 36 in the 1950s to just over 12 in 2009. That’s a drop of 76%! Marriage has shown a similar and steady decline from about 12 in 1950 to just under 3 in 2009. That too is a drop of almost 75%
This depicts a major crisis in marriage and the family and I don’t think I am exaggerating to say that trends like these are civilization killers. Conditions are far worse in Europe it would seem, though I do not have statistics to present here.
But the good Monsignor does believe that we can make a sacramental comeback. He suggests some strategies. He concludes his post thus:
So, here is a worthy task: recovering respect for the gifts of marriage and children. We may not see sudden reversals, but we can chip away at it. Even to get young people used to hearing of the blessings of marriage and children is a start. I have often joshed with my parishioners that one of the pillars of my evangelization plan is have our young people get married (FIRST), have lots of babies and raise them Catholic. They often laugh though they know I am not merely joshing. They’re getting used to hearing of large families again. To some extent that is going to have to be the first step: reintroducing concepts as rational and normal which had been discarded as crazy and out of date. Little by little, this tide can change. Little by little, brick by brick. The first step to making a 1000 mile journey is to put one foot in front of the other and just keep doing it.