“Yet there is a sense in which a focus on today’s obedience makes a long view possible: it does not yield a map, but it does yield a confidence that he who has called us is faithful, and will conduct the whole Church to her journey’s end. About a dozen years ago, Pope John Paul II agreed to answer some questions posed to him by an Italian journalist named Vittorio Messori. (His answers ultimately became the book Crossing the Threshold of Hope.) One of those questions concerned demographic predictions that Muslims would outnumber Catholics by the year 2000: “How do you feel when faced with this reality, after twenty centuries of evangelization?”
To this inquiry – with its freight of implicit worry – the pope replied placidly. After all, Jesus Christ himself proposed a still more frightening question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) – will there be any faithful believers at all?”
Alan Jacobs. Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant, “Choose Life.