Is there an alternative to organised religion?
With the 50th Eucharistic Congress taking place recently it is worth noting how we have moved from being a deeply religious society to becoming a more secular one.
Fifty years ago the majority of Irish citizens were practicing Roman Catholics who observed holy days and Lenten guidelines, faithfully said the family rosary, attended missions, prayed to the numerous saints, went to confession weekly, believed in papal infallibility and in the concept that priests were in some way different from the rest of us and were guided by divine powers.
How times have changed.
Many still attend mass on Sundays but few have retained the blind faith that supported the religious practices of the past. Most people today would agree that the current openness and freedom associated with fresh thinking on religious issues are a good thing and that we should continue to question the actions of our church leaders.
We must, however, be mindful of what we have lost in terms of the support and comforting lifetime guidelines that the church provided, for the decline in faith has left a gap in our lives.
Religions present us with a wonderful list of rules for just getting by, living in harmony with our neighbours and overcoming grief and hardship.
For thousands of years, faith in the ability of the church and its saints to help solve our worries has brought great solace to each succeeding generation.