In another entry, about implementing Summorum Pontificum in a parish, my correspondent mentioned awareness that we must help fallen away Catholics back to Holy Church.
In this Year of Faith we should act concretely to bring Catholics back to the sacraments. Their souls are in peril. We have an obligation to them out of love of God and neighbor.
The Holy Father’s call to promote a “New Evangelization” aims to revive our Catholic identity and practice of the Faith in places, traditionally and historically Christian, where the Faith is dying our or effectively dead.
We all know Catholics whose faith is dying or dead. Rather, their conscious and active identity as Catholics, is at best dormant. The virtue of faith is the last of the theological virtues to fade, after charity and hope.
I have at times made some suggestions to people who have told me, with pain, that their loved-ones are not practicing their Catholic Faith.
A first suggestion is to avoid bitter arguments. It is likely that the people you worry about have already heard what you have to say and they know what you are going to argue. The problem is that, these days, people don’t reason well. You can lead them from point to point into an inescapable conclusion and they will respond, “That might be true for you.” Also, it seem to me that people don’t really care if they make you mad. But they still care if they have made you sad. Express your concern and sorrow about their choices not to practice the Faith. Try not to argue too much. Show JOY in your Faith, for joy is attractive. But, that said, remember 1 Peter 3:15.
A second suggestion is to be inviting. Even if people refuse, they are still pleased that you thought enough about them to invite them. Never underestimate the power of an invitation. Invite fallen away Catholics to Mass and other parish events. If every regular church-goer would remember to invite someone every week to come with him, imagine what an effect that could have. Many will not accept. Some will. But if many are doing the inviting, many will eventually come. Everyone benefits. Parishes grow. Souls are helped. You please God who will crown your deeds with His own merits.
A third suggestion concerns especially parish priests. We have to rethink our liturgical worship to support a New Evangelization. Something of what I intend by this suggestion can be teased out from a manifesto I posted HERE. We cannot succeed with Year of Faith proposals or the New Evangelization unless we revitalize our liturgical worship of God. God is at the summit of all relationships we have. By the virtue of Religion, we owe proper worship to God. This is a matter of Justice and Religion. If we do not give God what is his due, our relationship with God will be disordered. As a consequence all our other relationships will be disordered. One of the best thing a parish priest can do to help people live better and be in better relationships is to foster proper worship of God. Foster worship which stresses the transcendent. An encounter with mystery, the transcendent, cuts through escapist arguments and world-mired excuses. What we have been doing, in the main, hasn’t worked.
Thus endeth the rant.