Well, late last night, I confess to becoming argumentative with a fellow Catholic on Twitter and have learned–as any fool ought to already know–that Twitter happens to be the worst place to argue. Twitter’s format encourages one to be cutthroat, as messages of 150 characters hardly allows one’s opinion to come across with clarity. But, I did respond with cynicism to the news that an old church was being converted into a mosque, which naturally includes the loss of its crosses. The church had been originally closed due to the merger between two parishes due to “parishioners moving to the suburbs.” And my interlocutor compared this incident to the loss of Hagia Sophia in 1453.
But, churches in modern America and the Europe of today do not fall to bloody conquest. The history of the Muslim conquests of the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Europe include some of the blackest pages in history. Churches in modern first world countries, however, are lost by apathy and poor religious education. The Church has to a large extent lost the war for the hearts and minds of the people. Christians neither attend Churches nor contribute to the upkeep of churches. For this reason and not essentially because Catholics move, churches are being converted into mosques.
The loss of a building matters little compared to the loss of souls evinced by the loss of the building. It is a great shame to hear that a tabernacle which held Our Lord is now empty, but the tabernacles which Jesus Christ wishes to reside in, the tabernacles he reached through the sacraments offered in the church, are human hearts. The vicinity of a closed church usually has plenty of baptized persons who can fill churches–unless it truly has been taken by force of arms. On Sunday, the majority of these persons stay home or feel that they need to work on this day. The importance of attending Mass was never impressed on their minds. Even if they love Christ, they cannot connect the importance of the sacraments to their devotion. This points to a failure in religious education–or perhaps they feel unwelcome? That the Church is for the elderly or the middle class?
For whatever reason, the Church lacks the vibrancy to keep their members attending Mass. (Even my particularly vibrant parish has an attendance rate of less than 50 percent.) People joke that the surest way to endanger a Catholic youth’s faith is to send him to a Catholic school. The absence of Catholic culture in films and books contributes to the idea that the Christian worldview is of limited worth. Thank God for J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis! Sometimes I–and I am not the only one–think that I see more Christian messages in anime than on American television! The Catholic church in America does have a vibrant center, but they seem incapable when it comes to making the Church’s message palatable to groups beyond the naturally pious.
On the other hand, Muslims, Secularists, and Atheists are so much more motivated to destroy the Faith than its adherents are to build it! Christianity appears blase compared to their attempts to build a perfect society or a kingdom of God on earth. But, the riches of Christ are infinitely greater and more beautiful than the beliefs held by our cultural enemies. With God on our side, the only reason for us to be losing is inaction! Until more souls become on fire with the beauty of the Gospel, we shall see more churches becoming mosques. Can we blame anyone but ourselves?