A few years ago, I watched a documentary about the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. They followed the historic rise and fall of the population, along with the complexity of adjudicating cases of those sworn to defeat the United States of America as an experiment in human history. Although I can’t tell you much beyond the scope of the documentary, I vividly recall the coverage of religious life in the facility.
There is a librarian who stores and distributes copies of the Koran. Each copy, a bound book, is kept within linen cloth. When ready to be prayed, they unwrap the book, and when the study is complete, it’s re-wrapped. To these men, the Koran is a sacred book, and they approach it as being personally handed to them by their Creator.
We’ve clearly lost this sense of the sacred. Our behavior at Mass, our attitude towards prayer, and even the way we treat the numerous Bibles and sacramentals in our household reflect this. In a way, that’s good. It means they are ordinary and expected things, they are things that make up the tapestry of our homes. But in another sense, it’s sad that we’ve brought them to a lower place in our consciousness.
There is no doubt that Catholicism possesses the best theology and liturgical life, but that doesn’t mean that we live our faith the best. We could learn a thing or two about how Muslims approach the Koran, the courage of LDS missionaries taking two years off to knock on strangers doors, or how the Baptists are always first on scene in a natural disaster.
A sense of the sacred, a sense of mission that pushes us beyond the staid confines of our pews and closer to the fruitful life God envisions for each of us.