"Church, Faith, Future” acknowledges the state of the Church
today and where we are going. I might have to buy ten or more
of Fr. Cameli’s new book in order to get people to read the
book. This is not because it isn’t a great book but because
people don’t seem to read meaningful, faith filled text
anymore. Why? Our secularized society doesn’t point us in the
direction of holy books or conversations at a deep level about
Christ and His Church.
Why did I read it? Two reasons come to mind: Fr. Cameli is a
thoughtful priest who embeds Christ and His Church in all that
he does and because this is our future as a Church we are
attempting to envision. The author doesn’t have a crystal ball
but attends to the details that would help us to understand the
faith of the future Church. There are four pivotal questions
that guide our reading.
“What can we expect? Is there anything unexpected that we could
possibly expect? What can we do? What ought we to do?” I would
encourage readers to answer those questions for themselves
before they read the answers that Fr. Cameli offers us. It is
such a pleasure when you find that what you thought coincides
with what Fr. Cameli offers us!
For example, the author’s understanding of the next generation
is powerfully stated: “The next generation does not so much
deliberately leave faith, religion and church as drift away from
realities that they have never really known. They don't decide,
they meander without much information or formation." (p.41). He
goes on to admonish the previous generation in their failure to
communicate the joys and challenges of our faith. To me, this
means that our job is much more important to make sure that
conversation and works take place on some level so all believers
and non-believers have a sense of the Church.
Part of the issue is the sense that Church is routine and how
that plays out. According to Fr. Cameli, "Evangelizers can
also raise a second set of questions. ...What will offer me
fulfillment? How can I find happiness?...evangelization takes up
the themes, sharpens the questions and raises the underlying
question, What are you really looking for?"(p.61) This section
calls up the those pivotal issues that most people are asking
and when they see others are working in that direction - they
get the call to discipleship. As a community of believers we
want to share our thoughts/feelings/beliefs with other believers
and ones that are becoming believers. We seem to be okay when
our physical prowess takes hard work in the gym day after day,
so does our spiritual, Christian life take work. It should be
part of our everyday ‘workout’ Prayer, good works and a sense of
belonging to Christ are the 3 variables we need to attend to.
What our Lord asks: "We and our contemporaries hear Jesus'
question, "Are you going to stay?" John 6:67 (p. 87). It is
amazing how our Church grew from the first 11 to over millions!
Finally, in this faith demanding book, we read the words of the
Cardinal of Chicago, blessing the work of Father Cameli and
reinforcing the belief that Christ continues to reveal Himself
to us. Our openness to His word brings the joy of the Gospels
and the desire to be disciples. This is an inspiring book
written by a person who constantly and continuously follows the
Scriptures and offers to others His wisdom and that of our