Short Takes: December 9th, 2016

Welcome to your daily “short takes,” three points to consider in the day ahead.

  1. Today is the feast of St. Juan Diego, the poor Mexican peasant to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Tepeyac in 1531, asking him to be her messenger to the bishop with her request for a chapel to be built in her honor on Tepeyac hill—the site of an old pagan temple. We’re all familiar with the basic story. But let’s take a fresh look at the details. First, like most of us, Juan Diego was nobody special. A late convert, at the age of 50, from Aztec pagan beliefs to Catholicism, he was “old” –61 years of age–when Our Lady gave him a simple, but difficult, mission. Shaped by a hard life and inspired by simple faith, Juan Diego persevered in that singular task—never imagining the fruit of his obedience: thousands of indigenous people converted to Catholicism within years, and millions of believers worldwide, century after century, have been inspired to greater faith.
    Takeaway: God has a mission for you (see Matt 28:19 for starters), no matter how old or young you are, or how distant from him you’ve been. Persevere in the specific task God asks of you, with humility, faith, and confidence in Mary’s intercession—and let God do the rest. We can’t begin to imagine the good that will result.
  2. Are we raising the future “former” Catholics?
    If you’re a parent, perhaps your “singular task” is to share the faith with your family. According to Pew’s Religious Landscape Survey, 42% of Americans say they no longer identify with their childhood faith—and Catholics make up 13% of those who have left their religion. A recent CARA survey sheds light on possible reasons why young adults are leaving Catholicism behind: maybe the “faith at home” is barely visible. While 36% of Catholic parents say they pray daily (apart from Mass), and another 23% say they pray about once a week, four in ten Catholic parents have prayer lives that are anemic (praying a few times a month) or almost non-existent (a few times per year, rarely, or never). And parents who do pray usually pray alone (76%), not with their families: only 17% of Catholic parents say they pray individually and with their families, and another 7% say they pray solely with their families. Why so little family prayer? Lack of time, schedule conflicts, they don’t know how, or they worry that “family prayer” somehow infringes on other family members. But when they do pray, parents most often say they are praying for their families—maybe this Christmas season, as our families gather together, we can connect the dots and not only pray for our family members, but with them. See the CARA study here for more insights on the faith lives of Catholic families.
  3. Who was Mary?
    Mary is a great intercessor for our families, particularly for those of us who are moms. But who was she? Ignatius Press has just released a new book by author Michael Hesemann, Mary of Nazareth: History, Archeology, Legends. It looks like a fascinating read—a way to understand Mary in much greater depth. Worth adding to your Christmas list!


Have a blessed day!