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“There is little need to underline the fact that the Church in our day is facing many and difficult problems of every sort,” writes Fr. George L. Kane. “Persecution has never been more intense or diabolical. Secularism is taking its toll of the attitudes and the ways of living of many of her members. Neo-paganism is ever devising new methods of breaking God’s commandments. Ignorance of religion is so widespread that it has been estimated that more than 90 percent of our people are insufficiently instructed in the Faith. The decline in Christian family life is almost everywhere evident.”
Fr. Kane is no doomsayer. The problems he lists are not insoluble. But they require that a different problem be addressed first—namely, “the acute shortage of priests, Brothers and Sisters.” You can’t run schools and hospitals without laborers, he says, and the soil in that field is growing thin. Hence he collects some of the best articles he can find on this topic in one volume: Meeting the Vocation Crisis. His hope is that “vocation directors and others charged with the responsibility of fostering vocations will find this compilation of some value.”
The book was published in 1956.
I’ll have a few things to say about Fr. Kane and the book I’m holding. First, I’d like to talk about one of the articles, “The Altar Boy Program” by the layman Paul Zimmerman. It will wring your heart. It comes from a world destroyed.
Zimmerman - Anecdote - Year - Traffic - Pilgrims
Zimmerman begins with an anecdote from 1775. That was a jubilee year, and the traffic of pilgrims to Rome was heavy. On the way, people stopped at churches for special prayers and solemn processions. There was one such procession in the village of Osimo, near Loretto. Two altar boys, Della Genga and Castiglione, were carrying brass candlesticks and walking on either side...
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