Everyone has a crisis of faith at some point in their life. I have had an on-going crisis of faith ever since I became a Christian. Now that crisis of faith is coming to a head. They used to say of the early Christians, “see how they love one another.” As Catholics, we believe that we worship the God who is love (1 John 4:7) and that the Son of God gave a new commandment to His Apostles before He died that they love one another as He loved them (John 13:34). This is what my heart searches for in the Christian Gospel – the lived-out reality of this new commandment. Yet, in my life since I have been a Christian, I have experienced more love, belonging, and acceptance with people who want little to nothing to do with God, or who believe in other gods, than with Christians.
Even now, I live in an RV park. I have experienced in the few months that I have been here more community and belonging than I have at my own parish or any other Catholic parish that I have attended. And when I was in graduate school, I was friends with people from many countries around the world and from religious backgrounds from Atheist to Muslim to Hinduism to elder worship. But we supported and encouraged each other through hard times, we spent hours talking about all kinds of subjects, they loved me enough to put up with me trying to convert them to Christianity; we had meals together; we took trips together, etc.. It was a true community that was formed solely because we were all doing one thing: trying to get a PhD. And yet, if I compare that experience to all my experiences as a Christian, I would have to say “see how they love one another” to my graduate student group rather than any of the experiences that I have had in Christian community. This for me is a crisis.
Yet, very few Catholics seem to care about this at all. I don’t really understand it except that it seems to me that most Western Catholics seem to view their salvation as an individual experience. They do not see their salvation wrapped up in the salvation of their neighbor. And before I go on, I fully admit that I am part of the problem that I am critiquing. This is why it is such a crisis for me because even though I can see the problem clearly, I cannot solve it on my own. Even right now, I lost someone I considered a friend in the faith. Reconciliation with this person is impossible on this side of eternity. And this problem seems to scale at every level.