Catholics were recently stunned by the news when a Pew Research Center study found that only 31% of self-described American Catholics actually believe what the Church teaches about transubstantiation — this despite 22% of the unbelievers admitting that they know what the Church says, but they don't really believe it.
This phenomenon should hardly be surprising, however, when we hear what our Church leaders themselves are proposing to effect during the upcoming Pan-Amazon Synod. Only ignorance of what the Church truly teaches could make the proposals found in the working document seem like a good idea. Cardinals, priests and lay theologians alike have pointed out that this document is heretical and can never form part of the Magisterium.
It is useless, while the barque of Peter is tossed upon the stormy seas, to argue over how this came to pass. Decisive action is called for. Yet for most of us, the task of righting the vessel is beyond our capability as mere passengers. We can only faithfully pray and fast these next 40 days, as our shepherds have asked, that God will grant the ship's crew the graces needed to stabilize her — or, barring that, that Christ will calm the seas.
But while we pray and fast, many of us wish for something we could actively do to make a difference, besides wringing our hands and arranging the deck chairs. For these, there is a project taking place during the October synod worth knowing about.
Called the Discover Your Roots project, a group of concerned Catholics will be in Rome during the month of October, while the synod is taking place, to distribute thousands of free copies of a unique book to visitors there, in the three languages spoken in the Pan-Amazon region: English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Treasure and Tradition, the book they plan to use as ammunition in their fight, was designed to imitate the visual style of today's popular nonfiction books, presenting easily digestible morsels of sound Catholic doctrine in a format that appeals to all ages and backgrounds. Those who pick it up out of sheer curiosity, Catholic or not, find it hard to put down, and that's just what the Discover Your Roots team is counting on.
For example, going back to the Pew study regarding the Eucharist, there is this simple page in Treasure and Tradition that, in few words, very forcefully makes the point that Christ Himself was willing to risk the loss of His disciples, rather than call them back and explain that He only meant what He said symbolically:
This page alone could go far in combating the errors that threaten our Church. But the beauty of this book is that there are so many other pages like this which help to reinforce the same concept — beautifully, simply and in a way that doesn't scold, preach or divide.
The martyrs didn't go to their deaths for faith in a symbol. They joyfully accepted death, rather than lose what they loved more than life itself. And even in this digital age, that love can be spread through truth and beauty.
Hundreds of thousands of Catholics from around the world will pack St. Peter's Square on Oct. 13, the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, as well as the canonization day for Cdl. John Henry Newman and for the first Brazilian-born female saint, Dulce Lopes Pontes. Through the efforts of Discover Your Roots, many of them will bring home a copy of this book, spreading far and wide its message of the beauty of our faith, as well as its historical and scriptural roots.
Those who long to take action to aid the Church in Her time of need can learn more about this ambitious project, either to volunteer, or simply lend your support, by visiting the Discover Your Roots blog.
You can make a difference.