As odd as it may seem, the Catholic Church is a hidden movement in history. A Church of more than a billion people cannot be hidden, can it? Yet, the media coverage of World Youth Day - not just last month's version in Spain, but consistently over the years - has curiously avoided the reason for such gatherings.
If two million people, mainly young, from around the world were to gather for any other reason than to give glory to Jesus Christ, it would naturally excite extensive and probing news coverage. It would be recognized that something major is afoot. However, the WYD media coverage largely focused on peripheral issues, such as the cost of the event and the relatively small number who protested against it.
To be sure, people did not go to Madrid with a political agenda or any agenda at all. It was not the Arab Spring. However, it ought to be seen in the context of what Pope John Paul called a new springtime of faith, the fruit of the new evangelization.
This Catholic Springtime will take long years to bear abundant fruit. But when it does, "fruitfulness" will be its watchword.
The culture of the world, especially the Western world, is sinking into the death of sterility. This is most evident in its birth reduction strategies. But sterility can also be seen in the alienation of man from nature, the presence of weapons of mass destruction, the killing of the natural environment, the isolation of the individual from community, the rise of bureaucracy and the treatment of the human body as an instrument.
This is a society that is killing itself. As this becomes increasingly evident, humanity will react with either a weary acceptance of its fate or a new awakening to the abundance of life. Nothing is inevitable about which path will be chosen. It will be a decision or perhaps a failure to decide.
The Catholic option, however, will be one of fruitfulness. Again, this will be most evident in a reinvigoration of the family and a willingness to bear children. But there will also be the rise of communities of sharing, a greater respect for the earth, the replacement of the war industry with the "industry" of reconciliation and an appreciation of the paradox that new life arises out of dying to self.
Such fruitfulness is more than biological. It will have Mary the virgin mother as its icon, Mary who heard the Word of God, accepted that Word and gave birth to him. Mary is the icon of obedience to God's will as the source of life.
This is why the media remains oblivious. Faith and obedience are hidden forces. There is no Dow-Jones Faith Index where their rise and fall can be charted. But they are the most powerful historical forces for good. It is in humanity's power to choose them and, in doing so, to launch a new era of fruitfulness.