Some time ago, a Jesuit, who at that time was working with a parish in a working-class neighborhood, confided to us his concern about the drastic decrease in the number of faithful attending celebrations, catechesis and parish activities. In contrast, he noted the enormous number of people who, gathered by the confraternity of the neighborhood, filled the parish on the occasion of its celebrations and, above all, flocked en masse whenever it carried its images in procession through the streets.
Our colleague gave a clear explanation for this imbalance, stating that while parish activities were part of the context of faith (and therefore suffered a reduction in attendance due to secularization), the events of the confraternity fell within the orbit of culture, and this, in his opinion, accounted for their popularity.
We believe that this explanation is rather simplistic, since, as we know, Jesus Christ preached the Gospel in the context of a specific culture and then evangelization took place within the framework of different cultures, without identifying completely with any one of them. Therefore, in order not to fall into the idealistic error of imagining that the purity of the faith is contaminated by contact with cultures, or that there exists a culture that can fully identify with the Gospel, it is necessary to reflect on what is meant by “culture” from the Christian point of view.