The following is by Father Valentine Young, OFM, a faithful Catholic priest who died on 17 January 2020. It was delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020. To learn more about Father Valentine, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
NE OF THE STRANGEST (and nuttiest) ideas that became prevalent especially among ‘progressives’ after the Second Vatican Council was this: When missionaries went to foreign lands and cultures they were no longer supposed to try to bring the Catholic faith and its teaching to the people. Rather, the missionaries were supposed to listen and learn from the teachings and cultures of the peoples. In other words it was just the opposite of what it used to be.
Nutty idea: I don’t know if you noticed at the beginning, but I did say it was a ‘nutty’ or crazy idea. I don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to explain or defend or even argue against the notion. Just like I can’t see how some people could promote the destruction (a.k.a wreck-o-vation) of beautiful churches in the spirit of Vatican II or in fulfillment of some mandate of Vatican II.
Missions suffered: But is it any wonder that my Provincial, Fr. Andrew Fox—some of you may have known or heard of him especially because of his long tenure at Roger Bacon—called me on Ascension Thursday of 1977 and asked me: “Fr. Valentine, would you be willing to return to the Navaho missions? None of the younger priests want to go to the Indian missions anymore.” I was happy to comply and do what I could to bring the true Catholic Faith to these people.
Our Treasure: Now what we have in our Catholic revealed religion is over and above anything we can imagine, with the Mass, the Sacraments, the revealed truths and all that we have. It is a priceless treasure. And Jesus has commissioned all of us in our own way to share and spread this treasure with others. And nothing else on earth compares with it.
Other cultures: This is not to say that other native, indigenous cultures do not have good and beautiful elements in them. I can speak mainly from my experience with Indians, more specifically the Navahos. Their native culture has a great respect and love for marriage and family life. Ideally at least, marriages are arranged not only by the bride and groom to be, but also by the parents of both parties. And while unfortunately there are on occasions some divorce, it doesn’t seem to be as rampant as it is in our society.
The reason: I would suspect the main reason for this lower divorce rate is because of the children involved. The Navaho family rejoices and welcomes children into the family. In fact: “the more, the better!” Back in the 1950’s, the U.S. Department of health sent instructors to teach the Navaho women about artificial contraception: how to stop having so many children. The Franciscans who were missionaries out there at the time told me the reaction of the people. The Navaho women especially said: “Belaghaana-diighis; The white people are crazy. They don’t want babies.” Incidentally statistically the Navaho tribe has grown from about 6,000 in 1864 to almost 200,000 now. They are by far the largest American Indian tribe.
Conclusion: I know that we are celebrating the Feast of the holy Family today. I know that God blesses some families only with few or no children. But I do think this may be an area where we can learn something from those who may not even yet have the advantage of our Catholic faith. Please pray that the Church will be able to continue to send missionaries to them. I still hear from some of them at Christmas. +