In the Pope’s visit to Ecuador he stated: “Evangelization does not consist in proselytizing, but in attracting by our witness those who are far off, in humbly drawing near to those who feel distant from God and the Church, those who are fearful or indifferent.” Since hundreds of thousand of South America Catholics have left the Church for Pentecostal “churches” mostly through very aggressive proselyization, the prosperity gospel message and having preachers destroy statues of Our Blessed Mother on stage, I wonder if we are being too benign in efforts to gain back those who have left the Church. I freely admit I usually prefer a more direct and forceful approach in situations when confronted by situations in which I am attacked wrongly. In this case is turning the other cheek the right thing to do in your opinion?
I’m not sure exactly what you mean by proposing a “more direct and forceful approach,” with regard to evangelization.
Errors must be addressed forthrightly, as Pope Francis has done. The proselytization he is condemns is the approach used by “pentecostal” communities which is, at its core, deceitful.
We should not pretend to be anything other than what we are: Catholics, Catholics who are Roman, Ukrainian, Maronite, etc… but Catholics, nothing less.
We should live our faith with gusto, fidelity, and striving for holiness.
If our numbers are falling off, it’s not because we’ve not tried some new, aggressive program or approach. It’s because we’ve failed in holiness and we have failed in our God-given vocations. We have failed in our sacred liturgical worship as well. Christ is the Perfect Communicator and liturgy is the most visible and accessible means by which He communicates with us.
My old pastor, Msgr. Schuler was wont to quip, “Nemo dat quod non got”, purposely macaronic, for “You can’t give what you aint’ got.” We have to know clearly what we believe (fides quae creditur) and have a solid, holy relationship with the content of our Faith (fides quae creditur – a Person!) and we must be able to communicate it clearly and with charity (1 Peter 3:15).
If we don’t know who we are, then we can’t share who we are. If we can’t share who we are, why should anyone bother to listen to us?
The starting point, therefore, is a renewal of our sacred liturgical worship of God. That’s where we must start and that’s where we must wind up. We cannot simply have a marketing approach evangelization. Everything we do must flow from our Catholic identity and that must start and aim at worship, as individuals and as congregations.
We need liturgical worship for our identity, like our bodies need shelter, air and nourishment.
If we have become ineffective bring the Faith to the masses and the masses to the Faith, then we need to review how we are worshiping Almighty God.
We need a strong, hard identity liturgical life!
Ask yourselves: Is what are you are getting at your parish or chapel giving you that? Clear Catholic identity (which involves works of mercy as a sine quibus non)?
Fathers: Is that what you are providing for your flocks?
If not… for the love of all that’s holy WHY NOT?!?
Is evangelization failing? Are people falling away?
Our priests and, especially bishops, have failed to provide us with the liturgical, sacramental, and catechetical life which has always been the backbone of the Church. Our consecrated religious have failed to lead lives of heroic and inspiring sanctity. Our laity have failed to live authentically Catholic lives both in the pew and in their homes, places of work, and in the public square.
We have no one to blame but ourselves.
Pace Commodore Perry and Cartoon Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is us!