In this new year, I would like to propose a resolution for all Catholics.
Pope Francis has challenged us to find more effective ways to bring Christ to the world. So let’s resolve — both as individuals and as a Church — to adopt a new approach to ministry that focuses on nourishing the seeds of faith instead of the current model that obsesses over why barren land is so … barren. Let me explain.
The Church is rightly concerned about many problems. How can we retain our teens and young adults? How can we help couples live the Catholic vision of love and marriage? How can we do a better job of ministering to marginalized persons — especially the divorced and remarried, as well as LGBT persons? How can we build a Church of intentional disciples? But year after year, despite our best efforts, polls show that the Church is losing people at a constant rate. The more energy we put into our current approach to ministry, the worse the results are.
What to do?
I believe the answer can be found in something Abraham Maslow once said about clinical psychology: namely, that its focus on disease led to a “sick psychology” that could tell people what was wrong with them but could never give them a clear way out. His comments became the seeds of the “positive psychology” movement founded in the late ’90s by psychologist Martin Seligman. Positive psychology is the science of human flourishing. It does not ignore common psychological maladies like depression, anxiety and all the rest, but approaches them from a different angle. Instead of looking at what is “broken” in the person, positive psychology studies what, exactly, leads people to experience happiness and fulfillment. It then teaches those skills to people who are struggling so that they can experience abundance in their lives as well.
Despite early concerns that such an approach would be unrelatable or insensitive to people who were struggling with real problems, hundreds of studies over the last 20 years have shown that positive psychology has transformed countless lives with its solution-focused, growth-oriented, wisdom-based approach.
Read more at Our Sunday Visitor.