Deacon Greg Kandra's blog is one I enjoy daily, and I especially enjoyed this recent article he wrote at Patheos:
Some months back, a woman came to the rectory to register her newborn for a baptism. As she filled out the paperwork, I explained that one of the godparents had to be Catholic, but that the other, if necessary, could be a baptized Christian.
She put down the pen and furrowed her brow.
"What's the difference?"
That same day, another new mother also arrived to start the process for a baptism. I looked over the paperwork and noticed that she had left blank the question on the form that asked if the parents had been married by a Catholic priest. I asked her about it.
"Well," she began, "I'm not sure if she was a priest . . . "
I smiled. "If it was a she," I explained, "it wasn't a Catholic priest."
She brightened. "Oh," she exclaimed excitedly. "Then she must have been a nun!"
Just another morning at the rectory.
We hear again and again about the empowered laity—that more people in the pews are taking the Church into their own hands, studying ministry programs, delving into the documents of Vatican II, taking graduate courses on theology, boning up on canon law, and learning the ins and outs of parish administration.
I'm sure that's true, somewhere. But the pitiful state of catechesis over the last generation or so has left many nominal Catholics I encounter with only a passing familiarity with the sacraments, the liturgy, and even the basic tenets of the faith. Add to that the dismaying fact that, by most counts, only about a quarter of all Catholics come to church every Sunday, and you end up with parishes that are filled with people who are, more often than not, baffled. They don't really understand what's going on around them. And they're surprisingly outspoken about it.