So the Catholic Church is supposed to get modern but refuses. It has feet of clay. The sheep are bleating for change. Oh, my, what can we do?
Catholics want change but they really don’t understand the church. What they actually need is a personal relationship with Christ through solid catechesis in the faith.
Folks, this is the good news — the Good News of the Gospel. However, the protesters — Catholic and non-Catholic alike — have forgotten this and have put the XYZs ahead of the ABCs of Catholic Christianity.
There’s been constant change since Jesus arrived 2,000 years ago and founded the church, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament. The fact that the changes have taken place over many centuries has people confused because they’ve been evolutionary, and the antsy modernists are calling for a revolution. Now.
Mark this down: Modern complainants must convert their hearts with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There must be a renewed recognition and acceptance of what Jesus taught. Then, it must be put into action as the Apostles and other followers of Christ did, albeit with severe challenges.
It is time to embrace the “New Evangelization,” whose roots were planted in Vatican II and re-emphasized by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
It is a conversion of heart, an acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and then spreading the Word to those around us, especially those on the fringes of the church.
John Paul II said this in “Redemptoris Missio” (“Mission of the Redeemer”) in 1988: “Groups of the baptized have lost a sense of faith, or even no longer consider themselves members of the church, and live a life far removed from Christ and his Gospel. In this case, what is needed is a ‘New Evangelization, or re-evangelization.’” This is a crucial mission of the church.
In other words, it’s time to spread the Good New — undaunted and without embarrassment, but with vigor and diplomacy. I suggest diplomacy because evangelization takes on the aspects of salesmanship. However, “Be bold for testimony to the Lord,” St. Paul urges in his second letter to Timothy, a convert and colleague on Paul’s missionary journeys through the Eastern Mediterranean in the mid-first century.
As members of the laity, this missionary role falls primarily to us, with guidance from church authorities, because we are in daily personal contact with people on the street. We rub shoulders with all kinds of people whom priests and bishops cannot meet.
In 2010, then-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, declared what he foresaw as a crucial mission of evangelization in an interview with El Jesuita, (The Jesuit): “It’s key that we Catholics, both clergy and laity, go out to meet the people.” Clearly, the Holy Spirit was behind this prescient admonition.
In a 2011 interview with the Argentinian Catholic news agency, the archbishop said, “The layperson has to live as a layperson with the power of baptism, which enables him to be a leaven of the love of God in society itself, to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from pulpit but from his everyday life. And like all of us, the layperson is called to carry his daily cross — the cross of the layperson, not of the priest.”
The current “Year of Faith,” established by Benedict XVI and ending with Advent this fall, goes hand-in-hand with evangelization. We must do this. It is the only way to bring peace to a selfish humanity.
As in Paul’s life, there will be speed bumps, but make a decision to continue forward, slowly, over the potholes. A ramrod approach won’t work. The transformation must be encouraged, sans hellfire and brimstone. A spoonful of sugar makes the healing medicine go down smoothly.
This is the Easter Season. There isn’t a more opportune time to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. His life, death and resurrection – the Paschal mystery — are proof positive that His is the right way. It saves us from destruction and gives us confidence and assurance that He is the way.
So, before we get all agitated about certain issues, let’s acknowledge that the big change needed in this post-Christian Era is a real, bona fide acceptance of the New Evangelization.
Matthew’s Gospel puts Jesus’ crucial but happy admonition into words: Love the Lord and others as we love ourselves. This is the heart of the matter. Holy Spirit-inspired love and trust in the Lord bring peace and contentment, even in the worst of times.
With dependence on the Holy Spirit we will be infused with the faith that God’s love soothes us. When we begin to see the value in such a lifestyle, we will see the start of an era that will
be viewed as revolutionary centuries from now.
Our change in heart will be evident in our character, personality and thinking. These signs will be evident, and offer a subtle but effective evangelization.