The New Evangelization

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Pope St. John Paul II
"It is not enough to discover Christ--you must bring Him to others! The world today is one great mission land, even in countries of longstanding Christian tradition."

Where are we?

An appointed time for everything

There is "a time for every purpose under heaven" (Eccl 3:1-8).

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
    a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What time is it?

What is the Spirit saying to the Churches?

"Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev 2:29).

The honeymoon is over. The Bridegroom is inviting His Bride to renew her love for Him.

The reproaches

  • "I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first" (Rev 2:4).
  • "Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer" (Rev 2:10).
  • "You have played the harlot" (Rev 2:14).
  • "You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, who teaches and misleads my servants to play the harlot and to eat food sacrificed to idols" (Rev 2:20).
  • "Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God" (Rev 3:2).
  • "I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth" (Rev 3:15).
  • "Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent" (Rev 3:19).

The Promises of our Spouse

  • "To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God" (Rev 2:7).
  • 'The victor shall not be harmed by the second death" (Rev 2:11).
  • "To the victor I shall give some of the hidden manna; I shall also give a white amulet upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it" (Rev 2:17).
  • "To the victor, who keeps to my ways until the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. Like clay vessels will they be smashed, just as I received authority from my Father. And to him I will give the morning star" (Rev 2:26).
  • "The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels" (Rev 3:5).
  • "The victor I will make into a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never leave it again. On him I will inscribe the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, as well as my new name" (Rev 3:12).
  • "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, (then) I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne" (Rev 3:20-21).

Reading the signs of our times

It is time to repent.
  • We have been building on sand (Mt 7:26): "self-will run riot" (AA). Love of self is the root of all evil.
  • A house divided against itself cannot stand (Mt 12:25).. The Church is divided between Catholic Catholics and Protestant Catholics.
    • We have termites at work, weakening the foundations of the U.S. Church (Catholic Buts).
    • The storms of the modern age (WW I, WW II, Cold War; culture of death, culture wars) have swept away or will sweep away everything that is not built on the Rock. Jesus is the Rock; Peter represents Him.
    • The sins of priests are our Hurricane Katrina.
    • Crisis of Truth.
    • Crisis of Chastity.
    • The Culture of Lust breeds the Culture of Death (bad karma!).
  • The Church in Europe shows where the U.S. is heading.
  • We don't have a "priest shortage." We have a shortage of faith, hope, and love: abortion, divorce, adultery, promiscuity, contraceptive mentality, addiction to pornography; sinful laity as well as sinful priests; proclamation of the gospel of self-satisfaction rather than that of Jesus Christ, crucified. There is a deep addiction to sexual pleasure in our culture.
  • Our youth have largely been inoculated against the faith rather than introduced to it. Most see Confirmation as the end of their Catholic life rather than as an adult commitment to the faith. "My parents told me that I can stop practicing as a Catholic if I stand up in public and say that I am committed to be a Catholic. They won't make me go to church any more after I'm confirmed as an adult Catholic."
  • Someone told Obama he didn't have to worry about antagonizing the Catholics, and he was right. We have be de-evangelized. The salt has lost its savor. It is a chemical impossibility but a spiritual reality.
It is time to repair the House of God.
The vandals have damaged the People and the House of God. They are not going to clean up after themselves. It is those of us who are left, those of us who love Jesus and His Body, who have to repair the damage done by the vandals and by the storms sweeping through the modern world. It's not fair--but love goes beyond fairness. "Vicarious satisfaction" is the norm Jesus sets for us: "Love one another as I have loved you." Jesus took the sins of others upon Himself and healed the wounds that others inflicted.
It is time to evangelize.
  • "Ask the master of the harvest to send laborers into the fields" (Lk 10:2).
  • In Paul's day, he felt that the focus needed to be on Christ crucified. I wonder whether the hard part in our culture is to preach Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Isn't that the good news? The apostles didn't understand Jesus' death on the cross until AFTER they saw Him risen from the dead. We need to start by preaching Jesus' resurrection from the dead and work backwards. If people are not going to buy the resurrection, they're not going to buy Jesus' divinity; if they won't buy His divinity, they won't grasp the value of His death on the Cross.
  • The last word is JOY! "We know Who wins."

The Old Evangelization is now ineffective

For a century or more, U.S. Catholics evangelized simply by being Catholic.

Parish life was the center of a Catholic's social life.

Catholicism was bred in the bone.

The culture of Catholicism was held, transmitted, and received by osmosis. The Body was well-fed, and its wounds were quickly healed.

Times have changed.

What worked then is not working now.

"Humane Vitae" marked a turning point. Corruption had already set in. The clear statement of the Church's perennial doctrine revealed that we had been building on sand for some time.

Our audience is inoculated against Christianity

Al Kresta: "We do remedial catechetics."

It's not just that people have been catechized badly. It's that they have been scarecely catechized at all. They think that they know what the faith is, and feel confident rejecting it as a known quantity. But they're not even in the ballpark.

Watered down Christianity is like the weakened viruses used in vaccines--it creates antibodies against Christianity.

I often hear Catholic commentators say on the radio that we have had forty or fifty years of inadequate catechesis, as if all that was needed was to distribute catechisms and persuade Catholics to read them. I'm not condoning the reduction of catechetics to the prescription to "be nice to everybody." It is part of the problem. The greater issue for me is that our brothers and sisters have embraced the gospel of self. It has but one fundamental commandment: "Make up your own mind." The rationale is that no one knows anything for certain. Consequently, whatever I think is true is true for me, and whatever I think is good is good for me. People with this mindset are probably not going to profit much from reading the Catechism. Because they have absolved themselves from all sin, they will not repent; because they will not repent, they cannot hear the good news.

Relativism, solipsism, and narcissism inoculate hearts against the gospel. It isn't just stony ground that confronts us; the earth has been salted so that the seeds of the gospel cannot take root. The earth has been salted with poison--the admonition to "make up your own mind."

Our audience is hungry and thirsty

We want to baptize the airwaves. Redeem the times. Show people where the ark is that will save them and their family from the flood of sin and death. Escape hatches. Portkeys. Gateways to life.

Sanctify the time. Reach people where they are willing to be reached. Find them. Find the lost sheep. Stray cats: cans of tuna, milk. Bait & switch. "Enter their door to lead them to ours."

New Barbarism

“The barbarism of the new era”, wrote Archbishop Fulton Sheen over sixty years ago, while World War II still raged, “will not be like that of the Huns of old; it will be technical, scientific, secular, and propagandized. It will not come from without, but from within, for barbarism is not outside us; it is underneath us. Older civilizations were destroyed by imported barbarism; modern civilization breeds its own.”[1]

A New Dark Age

John's gospel: the worst kind of blindness is in those who claim to see, but do not see the truth.

The darkness in the new Dark Age is the "light" of the Enlightenment: reason cut loose from tradition.

On the way to the bottom, Sunday, 11th week, Judges 2:6-3:4. God handed us over to the nations. Darwin, Einstein, spirit of Vatican II, modernity--the nations that surround us now. He will not wipe them out. He lets us experience battle, spiritual warfare. Ps 106: Delivered them into the hands of the nations, then rescued them when He heard them cry. We are addicted. We think we are taking medicine, but our survival strategy is killing us. Our comforter afflicts us. We are on our way to the bottom. We know not what we do!

A New Flood

The punishment for sin is more sin (Romans 1).

In every sin we commit, we say, "My will, not Thine, be done."

It is a just punishment for sin to suffer the consequences of sin. We become better at doing evil and poorer at doing good. We rationalize wrongdoing and cripple our conscience. We develop a thick skin and can no longer feel how evil our deeds are. We will not let God show us our sickness or our sin, so we are not moved to repent and be healed.

CCC #845
To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood.[2]

We have not yet hit bottom

"What Next in the Marriage Debate?"
“It’s going to get worse before it gets a lot worse.”

Someone in the Obama administration, perhaps Obama himself, calculated that most Catholics would not object to the HHS mandate and that it was therefore safe to make contraception and abortion part of Obamacare. They were right. If they win these cases, it opens the door to euthanasia, imposition of same-sex marriages, genetic engineering, IVF, and anything else they wish to impose on Catholics in the name of "health care." The administration is deciding what is and is not religious, and consequently what is and is not protected by "religious freedom."

The Church must die before it can rise again. Things are going to get worse--much worse!--before they get better. As bad as things are now, we haven't seen what is to come. We have sown the wind, and we are going to reap the whirlwind. (I feel like the prophet Jeremiah. This is not happy talk! Lord, have mercy!)

Kreeft: The Winning Strategy

Peter Kreeft, "The Winning Strategy."
Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5000% since the “happy days” of the ’50s. If suicide, especially among the coming generation, is not an index of crisis, nothing is.
If I haven’t shocked you yet, I will now. Do you know what Muslims call us? They call us “The Great Satan.” And do you know what I call them? I call them right.
But America has the most just, and moral, and wise, and biblical historical and constitutional foundation in all the world. America is one of the most religious countries in the world. The Church is big and rich and free in America.
Yes. Just like ancient Israel. And if God still loves his Church in America, he will soon make it small and poor and persecuted, as he did to ancient Israel, so that he can keep it alive. If he loves us, he will prune us, and we will bleed, and the blood of the martyrs will be the seed of the Church again, and a second spring will come—but not without blood. It never happens without blood, sacrifice, and suffering. The continuation of Christ’s work—if it is really Christ’s work and not a comfortable counterfeit—can never happen without the Cross.

Where are we going?

What is Jesus doing today? He is risen--He is risen, indeed! He is alive and well, reigning in glory. He has a plan and a purpose for the work we do on the The Station of the Cross.

Pray for laborers

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Mt 9:35-38)

Then he summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (Mt 10:1,5-8)

Blessed John Paul the Great: "Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."

Our greatest armor and attraction is joy

Joy strengthens us in the day of battle.

Joy evangelizes.

"The joy of the LORD is my strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

"Comfort my people" (Isaiah 40:1).

"Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint" (Isaiah 40:30-31).

"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love" (Blessed Mother Teresa).

"For the sake of the joy that was set before Him, He endured the Cross, heedless of its shame" (Heb 12:2).

Note well: we are not always in a state of consolation. Like Jesus, we, too, may have an Agony in the Garden and may cry out from our cross, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Mt 27:46). While we are in the Church Militant, we do not always feel the joy that God has promised us. When we endure that suffering in faith, we can look back on those days as the best times in our lives.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." (Jn 16:20-22).

The Church Will Decrease

catholiceducation.org, "The church will become small."
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009; 1969).
The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members....
It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . .
But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man's home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

Gutting the House of God

When we renovate, we first tear out all of the old, unwanted material, then rebuild as good as new. I think this is what is happening in the Church today.

Our house was built on sand. God has let the storms of our age cause it to collapse.

Practical considerations

  • Take both watch and alarm clock. Different rooms, different opportunities.
  • Try to get a seat for EVERYBODY. I wouldn't want to stand for 45 minutes.

References

  1. "America Still Has Half a Soul. For Now."
  2. St. Augustine, Serm. 96,7,9:PL 38,588; St. Ambrose, De virg. 18 118:PL 16,297B; cf. already 1 Pet 3:20-21.

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