In this weeks blog, Fr Paddy reflects on the need for us to stand up and be counted with regards to our faith.

count_me_in

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared on 14th August 2009

A recent website entitled Count Me Out is perhaps a sign of the times. This website is to facilitate anyone who wants to leave the Catholic Church. The site provides necessary information regarding this process. It is attracting a big number of visitors and a significant amount of people through this method have registered that they no longer want to be part of the Church. Those who have made a decision to officially leave the Church have given many reasons. A common theme is a great sense of disillusionment with the institution and a loss of faith where many no longer believe. Count Me Out is a sign of the times and perhaps a healthy one.

Freedom of choice is fundamental in our search through life. For many members of Church, we have perhaps become accustomed to the tepid waters that are luke warm. Many are neither in nor out. The vast majority continues to be baptized, children receive first communion and confirmation and couples still marry in the Catholic Church. I often wonder has the Church become a fast food drive thru, where we dispatch out sacraments at ease to customers who are in a rush and in need of the quick fix.

A certain reality that we face in Ireland is that our Church is going to be much smaller. As growing numbers want to be counted out, why do others stay and wanted to be counted in? Many in our communities are proud to belong to a faith community who worship and prays together. Many from our own families and friends find our Church a meeting place, where faith can be nourished, hope sustained and confidence strengthened. We cannot blindly continue to stand on the sideline if we want to benefit from our faith and its practice.

This is the time to be resolute in our faith commitment and to have the courage that comes from knowing we are not alone. Counting ourselves in as members, suggests that we have discovered a significant relevance, regarding the way we live our lives. The early Church members were identifiable not for what they wore or how loudly they prayed and sung in Church. They were recognizable by their actions. This is the vision that we need to evangelize and cultivate especially with young people. A Church that stands for justice especially as a voice for those most vulnerable. A church that can offer hope and confidence to the thousands in our County who are unemployed and anxious about the future. A Church that heals, especially one that reaches out to the sick and fragile in our midst. A member of our parish who lives with serious cancer confidently shared with me I could not get through this without my faith,

Counting ourselves in is a life giving personal choice that opens wonderful opportunity for us all to grow. The great gift of our faith, is that our God is a most compassionate and patient friend. His is the first hand to pick us up and offer support when we stumble and fall. For this reason I Count myself in!