Sometimes I feel like I don't understand what's going on in the Catholic Church here in the U.S.A. From certain points of view, things look healthy and encouraging. From other angles, though, it looks like things are falling apart in a catastrophic way.
On the one hand certain things I see and hear make me think the Catholic Church is full of life and zeal: the pastoral visit of Benedict XVI, the installation of Archbishop Dolan here in New York, religious orders growing because they are willing to reject indifferentism and relativism and embrace the values of traditional religious life, Catholic blogs and internet evangelization full of zeal and erudition, converts entering the Church from separated ecclesial communities and even from godlessness, martyrdom increasing in the world, etc.
But from other points of view the state of the Church can seem pretty dire: There are general problems, such as church closings and their attendant troubles here in the Northeast and the Midwest, our continuing embrace of denial about the root cultural problems of clergy sexual abuse, a lack of zeal for souls and pastoral answers as populations shift and economic problems become spiritual dangers to individuals and families, etc. There are also very disturbing aspects of my own individual experience, such as presiding at funerals time after time in which it is clear that few of the mourners have been to Mass any time recently--and for which I sometimes receive the most discouraging comment I can imagine, "Mom (or whoever) would have loved that." *sigh*--as well as "eulogies" that make a mockery of the Lord's sanctuary with foul language and drinking stories, how only a very small proportion of families with whom I celebrate infant baptism are ever seen again, practicing Catholics whom, when you actually get to know them, seem to lack even the most basic catechesis, etc.
So sometimes I feel like I have one foot in a devout and energetic Church and the other in a Church in a tailspin of decadence and decline. Would the real Catholic Church in the United States please stand up?