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DEAR FATHER | By actively pursuing the will of God, we can strengthen the Church

I often think about Pope Benedict’s prophesy that there will be a “small stronger Church” in the future. Do you think this is happening?

“Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see.” This serves as a good reminder that it can be a risky business to guess at future events. Leading up to the time of Christ, faithful Jews would have seen very little to inspire hope, yet it was at that very moment that God intervened most radically in human history and called forth a new people from every nation and the Church was born.

Some data support the “smaller” portion of Pope Benedict’s statement. The most recent Pew Research Center General Social Survey found that 63% of American adults are Christian, compared to 90% in 1972.

Many contemporary intellectual and moral trends militate strongly against faith, and constant temptations of materialism and individualism cloud notions of true happiness.

All the same, I have great hope for the future of the Church. My hope lies in the domestic Church. I have been serving as a priest for only two years, yet I have been increasingly encountering couples who actively discern God’s will for their family. I’ve known families who have quit jobs and moved across the country because they felt God’s call. Others continuously discern when God is inviting them to welcome another child in their family, or have begun new ministries at His inspiration. The common denominator is that both husbands and wives pray and speak to each other about their prayer, seeking unity in what they hear the Lord is asking of them. This radical dedication to “finding happiness in the will of God,” rather than pursuing the typical cultural notion of “happiness through lifestyle,” will give great power to their efforts of evangelization and child-rearing in the faith.

The unique hopefulness of these families is that they tend not to belong to any particular silo in the Church — they are not all “traditional” or “contemporary” in their liturgical preferences and represent a range of opinions regarding the best path forward for society and the Church. God continues to act in human history, and as families actively pursue His will above all, a new vigor and zeal for our faith will be born, and the Church will be strengthened for generations to come.

Father Charlie Archer is associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood.

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