ASK FATHER: Do we need “more direct and forceful” evangelization? Identifying the “enemy”.

Pogo we have met the enemyFrom a reader…

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.

¡Hagan lío!

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!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, New Evangelization, The future and our choices and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. benedetta says:

    Agree completely. When Catholics live the liturgical life of Holy Mother Church, in their prayer, in their work, in their homes, in their hearts, in all the assorted domestic churches, in all its beauty, abundance, and attuned-ness to our needs, it’s all there, especially in the EF propers, readings, celebrations, memorials, chants, calendar of feasts and feria, we live the faith with joy and confidence and this radiates to others, this draws others much better and more powerfully than mere proseltyzing. The sacraments are trustworthy — we have to depend on them and work with them for our own spiritual growth, and live the Church’s liturgical worship fully in the concrete details of our lives when we are not in the sanctuary of our church itself, and they will inform us of what to say when we meet others who desire in their hearts the same communion we call our own. When one considers is out fully it is very easy to see that a full renewal of liturgical life is best, most reliable, and shortest route to a communal life in the faith. My prayer is that the next generation of pastors say both forms of the Mass, that all Catholics come prepared to worship in all the Rites Holy Mother Church offers in her wisdom and care, that confession is availed of as a regular and reliable means to personal holiness.

  2. Blas says:

    There is astrong need in teaching what a catholic does believe and why a catholic believes that. The Catholic Church has abbandoned to teach the cathecism and has forbid the word apologetics. The onñy way to evangelize a world educated in materialism is with mataphisic, apologetic amd catecism. Unfortunatly, the hierarchy of the Chuech do not see this needs.

  3. TWF says:

    The Church hasn’t lost hundreds of thousands to Pentecostalism. It’s lost millions. Millions upon millions. And Pentecostalism continues to grow like wild fire in Latin America.
    In my wife’s native Dominican Republic I’ve seen the children invited to hold hands around the altar or perform “cute” liturgical dances while Sister strums away on the guitar. We can’t compete with the Pentecostals on the “entertainment” front, so why do we try? It doesn’t work. Pentecostal services in Latin America have flashy, skilled “worship bands” and engaging speakers who are strong on moral issues. We have wushy washy homilies and banal liturgy. Simply offer authentic Catholicism and people will return.

  4. cowboyengineer says:

    I am a 58 year old Protestant man and I believe you Catholics are over thinking this new evangelism. I can’t count the number of times friends and relatives have invited me to their church. I have had strangers come up to me in grocery stores and malls and invite me to their church. I have had neighbors invite me to their church. I have had bosses and co-workers invite me to their church. I have had churches send me mailings inviting me to their church. I have even had preachers come to my door and invite me to their church. In all my 58 years, I have never been invited to a Catholic Church. If y’all want to evangelize, if y’all want to convert, if y’all want to fill the pews, you might try inviting people into you church.

  5. yatzer says:

    cowboyengineer, I’d love to invite you to my parish church, and I do. It is both up to date and traditional, although there are the usual numbers of real stinkers. We don’t have too many cowboys around here though, so geography might be a problem.
    You have hit on a real problem. Too many clergy and laypeople seem to be even apologetic about being Catholic. We have the fullness of the faith! I don’t get it either.

  6. stephen c says:

    Cowboy Engineer – You should try to be nicer. How many of your Evangelical friends really really believe the words in the Bible that Christians believe? Almost all your Evangelical friends have no desire to publicly condemn abortion. There are exceptions, but they are few. With almost no exceptions, every single one of your Evangelical friends believes they can contracept most of the next generation of Evangelicals but that is all right because God, to judge from the silence on the subject from Evangelical preachers, only loves the fortunate ones who have survived to become babies and God does not care about the contracepted children who will never be adults. Almost all of your Evangelical friends love to talk about eternal security – not in the way Father Vianney talked about it,as something that happens because people have been taught to love Jesus and each other so much that no other option is viable, but merely as an amalgam of contract law and out of context Bible citations that make people confident and happy (and willing to drop dollars in the donation plate). It is easy to get poor people to agree with you when you say the poor are better than the rich, so let’s manipulate the poor and get them on our side, and let’s sing songs about how we are poor and we are better than everyone else, but how many wish to heed St Paul’s inarguable call, echoing the words of Jesus, to consider all – rich and poor, male and female, foreigner and neighbor, fellow Christians — and to save or at least joyfully help the world through real poverty and real chastity and real celibacy out of love? As for me, I pray every day for my “Protestant” friends, but , as unhappy as I might be about the modern Roman Catholic prelates who have decided not to proclaim loudly the joy of God’s word, and the love we are called to show for the least among us, I am much more unhappy to see the sinful Billy Graham epigones and their prosperous and sinful cold-hearted pro-abortion and anti-Biblical followers claim to be a “saved and chosen people” while ignoring the words of Jesus every day of their lives (not that I don’t ignore those words, too, but at least, I hope, I am not worldly profitable and business-like and profit-seeking about it). Yes many of them love Jesus, but let’s be honest – how many of them feel in their heart of hearts that they are better Christians than the Catholic saints who, without exception, would have laid down their lives for any one of us. If they feel that way they are wrong…

  7. Bea says:

    “Nemo dat quod non got”, purposely macaronic, for “You can’t give what you aint’ got.”
    So VERY, VERY True. I had good parents but lamented that I did not grow up with a solid outlook on my Faith, until I realized that they couldn’t give me what they didn’t have or know.
    The more we have and the more we know, then the more we have to give and teach our children or those around us.

    “We cannot simply have a marketing approach evangelization. ”
    Except for our parish, the diocese has a practically zero vocation quota.
    You can’t believe the “marketing” that goes on.
    “Jammin’ for Jesus” was their big event. Once a year teens came to participate.
    Lots of fun, the teens came out, met other teens and zero vocations.
    Other “social vocational events” too, but no fruits.

    In speaking of peripheries: It was Our Lord who was on the peripheries, not the people.

    Thanks for posting these 2 Truths , Father. Much food for thought but unfortunately those who should be reading these Truths aren’t going to.

  8. Nicolas Bellord says:

    I have hear it said that the evangelicals whilst having a concern for the poor also preach the bible and morality. The Catholic Church shows concern for the poor but has forgotten the bible and morality.

  9. jacobi says:


    I am all for evangelisation, even a little bit of prosytelisation, although in my part of the world you might risk a punch on the snooter, but, and this is a big but, first of all we have to be clear what to evangelise about, what to declare as the teaching of the One, True, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

    I mean is homosexual sex now acceptable, can adulterers now receive Holy Communion and just carry on regardless?And what about the other deadly sins which no one in the Church seems to bother much about these days?

    Maybe we should sort this sort of thing out before we go again and evangelise Mr Cowboyengineer, who as an engineer will want us to have a logical approach.

  10. Kerry says:

    My wife and I began attending the closest Traditional Latin Mass to us, 65 miles one way, on Pentecost. We can only go every other week, and on odd weeks endure wretched hymns, terrible music with the Agnus Dei and Sanctus etc. It is uninspired. If we find it dreadful, what’s there for a non-Catholic?

  11. Stephanus83 says:

    I think cowboyengineer is onto something. I’m a student at The Ohio State University. It’s a massive school. I’ve met Mormon missionaries on numerous occasions. I’ve been approached by Jehovah’s Witnesses on campus. I’ve had various Protestant missionaries talk to me numerous times. I’ve always been able to adequately defend my Catholic faith. I’ve never been approached by a Catholic on campus though. It seems that almost everyday someone is on campus handing out flyers or doing some sort of street evangelization…but they’re never Catholics. I guess I share some of the blame because I’ve never stepped up and tried to go out on campus and share my faith either.

  12. Defender of Truth says:

    I suppose that much of has been written so for has some truth in it, however, in my opinion TWF states it best. I have taught 7th grade student in CCD for 15 years. One of the questions I asked the students is; what do you think of Mass? The answer was always, boring. In attending a class for CCD teachers, one told the story of her son who had attended a “Holy Spirit Meeting” with his Pentecostal friends. He was greatly impressed with all the activity and singing and ask his mother why his Catholic Church can’t be as exciting. I truly believe that the mother in question was, herself, questioning why the Mass liturgy isn’t more exciting in the vein of Pentecostalism. I ask the class, where is the Eucharist in those “Holy Spirit Meetings”, what is the true meaning of the Mass? I’m not certain that this mother actually knew. Benedetta writes that in the Catholic Church there is: “beauty, abundance, and attuned-ness to our needs… especially in the EF propers, readings, celebrations, memorials, chants, calendar of feasts and feria, we live the faith with joy and confidence and this radiates to others, this draws others much better and more powerfully than mere proseltyzing”. Certainly that is the case for faithful Catholics but it doesn’t speak to the fact that the Church is hemorrhaging people who prefer a church alive with pastors who jump around a stage replete with guitars and drums being promised wealth if they only would “plant a seed” by giving to the church. Yes, there are several reasons why people abandon the Catholic faith, but it is my opinion based on observation that if we are to recapture the millions who have left the CC for Pentecostalism and other sects, we must look to the data as to why they leave and act accordingly; meaning, using whatever action it takes.

  13. Father Z: “We have no one to blame but ourselves.”

    I’ve never been able to understand this formulaic kind of assertion of moral equivalence, of blame and guilt shared by all in sight.

    Is the pew sitter forced with no choice to acquiesce to liturgical or catechetical abuse morally equivalent to the bishop ultimately responsible for it being rammed down his throat?

    Might not “No one to blame but our bishops” be a more accurate (and useful) diagnosis?

  14. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The proselytization he is condemns is the approach used by “pentecostal” communities which is, at its core, deceitful.”

    After having studied Charismatic theology for almost 20 years at a research level, I can say that the majority of Pentecostals do not deliberately intend to deceive their audiences. They are offering a defective theology because they know no better.

    The reason the Church is losing so many people to the Pentecostal movement is as simple as it is sad: the Church has no effective apologetic against it – indeed, in the Charismatic Movement, it has, effectively, gotten into bed with Pentecostalism and now it laments that people are leaving.

    Let’s be clear, there is no good understanding of the roots of the modern Pentecostal movement to be found anywhere in the Church. I know that sounds harsh and even prideful of me to say, but it is, nevertheless, true. I know the literature in detail and all I ever see is Nouvelle Theologie rearing its ugly head in the whole mess. Nouvelle Theologie was the reaction against neo-Scholasticism that occurred in the French and German schools in the 1920, gained momentum in the 1940’s, and went full-force into Vatican II. It takes the form of ressourcement – a return to the sources (Scripture and The Fathers), instead of the logical order of Scholasticism. Naturally, when Pentecostalism was introduced into the West in full force, fully developed, in the later 1910’s, it set the stage for some in the Hierarchy to begin to salivate, because it looked like a return to the sources on the day of Pentecost, which is exactly how the Protestants sold it.

    By the 1950’s there were some cardinals in the Vatican who had about 300 books on Pentecostalism (we have eyewitnesses), so the myth that the Charismatic “Renewal” was a sudden outpouring of the Spirit at Duquesne University in 1967 is a pure fiction. It was a stupid, foolish, self-indulgent action of two university professors, too impatient to develop their own personal holiness, that was the wedge that allowed the movement into the Church.

    Now, the Church laments. Forgive me for saying this, but, too bad. This is the result of decades of sacrificing logic for emotionalism, of wishful thinking instead of sound scholarship. Some liberal cardinals (such as Cardinal Suenens) after Vatican II actively promoted the Charismatic Renewal, which is, effectively, Pentecostalism in Catholic dress. They had no understanding of the phenomenon and twisted Scripture to try to interpret it. They were bad scientists.

    I can tell you exactly what the modern Pentecostal phenomenon is, but I cannot tell you exactly how it works on the flesh, although I can shed some light on this. If you understood where it comes from, you would know why the Church has to condemn the movement (indeed, already has, although they don’t realize it) and why it is so attractive to so many people.

    I will not write the book I should be writing, here. It has been very hard, the last few years, to be able to concentrate on writing the book. I have the title and chapter titles and I have most of the research completed, but it has been hard.

    A return to a logical liturgy will help, but only after the root causes of the infiltration have been purged. There needs to be a return to the idea of sacrifice and the Cross. There needs to be a return to the spirituality of the mundane. Glitz and glamour need to be replaced with quiet and hiddeness. Holiness is never loud.

    We don’t need to invite people into our Churches – we need to invite people into our lives and, if they be holy, they will find the true Christ.

    Let me be practical. The main reasons that Pentecostalism is making such strides, sad to say, are the same old fleshly desires that people have without religion. Pentecostalism promises immediate access to God, in a personal manner, complete with conversations (words of knowledge, etc.). It promises power, if only spiritual power. It promises knowledge, quick and easy, of the right thing to do because one is, “led by the spirit.” It provides an in-group of people having the same experiences. It eschews rigorism or structure – i.e., it is antinominous. It is not a quiet, contemplative, rational approach to a relationship with God. It is a type of distorted mysticism, but it is not a type of mysticism that struggles, as in any ordinary love relationship, to relate to the beloved, to purify oneself, to be a good example for the sake of the beloved. It promises a quick and easy relationship, no muss, no fuss. In a few words, it is a type of approach to Christianity that understands the Resurrection, but not the Cross. For Pentecostals, suffering is an enemy, not a means to relate to the Suffering Christ.

    To say that Pentecostalism is the next thing is ludicrous. It is growing in places that have not really had a historic connection with science. Pentecostalism is both anti-rational and anti-empirical. Once modern life moves into those areas, Pentecostalism will fizzle out, just as it has in most countries, because Christianity, itself, will fizzle. One reason behind the decline in Christianity in-the-whole, is because it has not found a way to deal with the allure of modern science. Vatican II was supposed to deal with this issue (see, the Church is aware of the problem), but it got hi-jacked by other concerns. Once the limitations of science are understood by the general population, religion will make a comeback – if we haven’t destroyed ourselves, first, and it will be a more mature form.

    The Church, by the latest estimates I have seen, is losing 4000 people per day to Pentecostalism, all because they wouldn’t do their homework to understand it when it first came out. Indeed, the Church should have waited at least a few decades after the 1960’s before studying the phenomenon, because the necessary scholarship to understand the origins of the modern Pentecostal movement wasn’t even done until 1985, by Robert Tuttle, then a Ph.d student at Columbia in his dissertation on Wesleyan mysticism.

    I could give you the abbreviated history of how the modern movement came about, but this combox is not the right arena. The documents are all there, available to anyone who would look. The best way to stop the aggressive evangelization of the South American Pentecostal churches is for people to be armed with the truth. Even Patton read Rommel’s book on tank warfare. I suggest that those wanting to stop the mounted tanks of Pentecostalism do the same – become detectives and read the literature.

    I may have a responsibility to give people some sort of apologetic, but I like to make sure that anything I say is judged by those in authority. There is too much bad theology floating around. The SSPX, who are very critical of the Charismatic Renewal, themselves do not, really, have very secure arguments.

    I need to think about this.

    The Chicken

  15. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Yes, there are several reasons why people abandon the Catholic faith, but it is my opinion based on observation that if we are to recapture the millions who have left the CC for Pentecostalism and other sects, we must look to the data as to why they leave and act accordingly; meaning, using whatever action it takes.”

    We know why they are leaving. They are leaving for many of the same reasons that people are abandoning marriage – lack of commitment, abuse, misunderstanding of the nature of the relationship.

    The Chicken

  16. benedetta says:

    I think one aspect of this that gets overlooked in our age of dwelling upon surface appearances has to do with understanding why a renewal of our sacred worship in the liturgical life and prayer of the Church is needed. I think a common misconception certainly in the secular world and to a great extent in the Catholic world in the West today looks at demonstrable goodness, authenticity, and works, sorts of appearances, for verification in terms of faith community. As the liturgy is where the Church takes on a particular visible form, people’s expectations, rightly or wrongly, often focus upon the character of the congregation where they worship. Along with the secular dogma that only short term political goal accomplishment matters, and that people can be reduced to how they vote one way or the other once a year, there follows a way of defining one’s place with reference to the types of works of mercy or social justice that this or that congregation advertises it takes part in. The liturgy then is understood to be confirmation of those aims and principles or “mission statement” and group personality of one congregation or another. Of course this is quite common in the Protestant world, but it is also very typical nowadays of Catholics.

    The reason why liturgical renewal is so gravely needed in these times is not as some would pretend or portray because the people who worship in one way or another are somehow more holy or perfect or better or righteous. Common sense and ordinary experience tells us that those who worship in the EF as opposed to those who worship in some hyped up dissenting faith community of intention with the accent on a peculiar sort of political activism without resonance in Christianity across millennia are no better, different or less human or real in their struggles and in their journeys of faith. One will not discover better people by examining one group against another. Of course the secularist narrative of our times is that any believer must be held up to some artificial, often arbitrary, and usually irrational standard of perfection. I call this the Alinsky heresy…But we as believers ought not indulge ourselves in excessive judgment of one another’s souls, or at least attempt to resist that, attempt to resist the deception that plays out from the enemy that says that we are unworthy as human beings of being made perfect in God’s grace and providential ordering.

    My sense is that the reason why a profound renewal of our liturgical life will help and save us in these times is rather very different from the notion that those who worship according to a more beautiful and traditional manner are thereby rendered more perfect instantaneously or “magically”. My sense rather is that the living, true, trustworthy and completely real presence of Our Lord is less obscured in one sort of worship. The times cry out for the Lord’s visible presence among us. The times cry out for Love to be loved. The times cry out for us to make something beautiful for the Lord with us. The times cry out for this tenderness, the creche of a baby king welcomed in love and with our very best, for the acceptance of this great wondrous mystery, for our acknowledgement in solidarity with all those who have ever been deceived into believing that goodness does not exist, that we do believe.

    Now would such a course that we set upon as a journey together yield an increase in holiness? Personal holiness, and, strengthened ties in caritas amongst us such that we are capable of doing some surprising and significant works in our times? It would not be because of what we are or would do. It would be because of the way we let God lead us. I think one need only take a cursory browse of liturgy and theology this past half century to see the thrust, a heresy, that sought to obscure the presence of Christ in countless and even undreamt ways, and the steady denial of opportunities as individuals and as congregations to actually pray with the Lord present in our church has gone hand in hand with that. We need to accept Christ back to our midst. The EF is an important answer, as would be the revival of Eucharistic adoration and processions. As to the Novus Ordo, as it is typically celebrated in the West, it really serves greatly to obscure the Real Presence and not admit to our churches, however, if it were to be celebrated as the rule and not the exception according to the way envisioned by Second Vatican, perhaps it could too play a role. Better minds than mine have been hashing this out and I hope will continue.

  17. Mike says:

    If I can’t clearly and correctly say what my faith is (shockingly true until relatively recently, and I’m still shakier than I’d like to be), and I don’t have a reasonable expectation of encountering other Catholics who can clearly and correctly say what their faith is, then I’d say that “We have no one to blame but ourselves” fairly hits the mark. What proportion of total accountability falls to clerics and what to laity is immaterial. I can only clean up my side of the street — which may or may not include engaging priests, Religious, and hierarchs at appropriate times and venues.

    The fact that we seem sadly prone to treat as if it were a dirty little secret is that the Traditional Latin Mass, once understood (and especially when accompanied by orthodox, liturgically based preaching), hammers home the Faith every single time. By contrast, nearly a half-century’s sad experience should persuade any sincere observer that the Novus Ordo, however “accessible,” is too frequently festooned with distractions and agendas to be a reliable vehicle for transmitting and cultivating the Faith.

    One is entitled to disagree in the light of a well-formed conscience, and I recognize and regret that I am variance with our blogmaster on the TLM-versus-Novus-Ordo question. What I think we all can agree on, however, is the necessity of “a strong, hard identity liturgical life” — and one that, focused on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, possesses substance that smooth and emotive approaches to evangelization and worship, absent focus on Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection and on the Eucharist, will always lack.

    Approaching a solid understanding of the Mass (in any form or rite), the better to participate in it, is hard. The Holy Ghost will not withhold His gifts from one who seeks sincerely, humbly, and with a clear conscience, to be united with Christ in His sacrifice. Let us beseech the Holy Ghost for those gifts — not least to infuse that understanding into our souls so that we may serve Him as He would have us do, irrespective of the Zeitgeist or our personal comfort.

  18. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    We need a strong, hard identity liturgical life!
    And that includes more of The Liturgy of the Hours.

  19. Kathleen10 says:

    Very interesting thread and thought provoking comments.
    cowboyengineer raises a great point and is no doubt true. I myself have not invited people to my church and need to really try to do better on this score. But, as Defender of Truth rightly says, many people today find Mass “boring” and “don’t get anything out of it”. The people want bread and circuses all the time, and Holy Mass is not oriented that way, unless Father is trying to turn it into a hootenanny or make us all Protestants. I believe that is one reason for the tambourines, puppets, etc., clergy and some well-intentioned laity trying to respond to the increasing need of contemporary people for stimulation and entertainment in church. If people are properly informed on what is going on during the Mass, like many older folks still are, at least they know, but many people don’t, and it is asking a lot of ordinary people to really convey the depth and meaning of the Catholic faith to other laypersons. Very hard to slip any of that into the conversation. That kind of teaching seems most likely to happen from the pulpit. Priests and bishops must take their obvious opportunity during homilies to reach out and grab the captive listeners with the truth of the faith! We’ve seen what the watered down, politically correct, weak homilies do, empty the pews. Laity has a function, but it is not this function. We may well be to blame for not inviting others to come to our church. I know I am. But I am not responsible for allowing the liturgy or teaching to get flabby and go on life support. That falls to priests, religious, and most importantly, Bishops. For decades we have watched while our faith has been all but dismantled, and we see the results. Experiment fail. Time to get back to basics, provide the Catholic faith with bite in it (the truth), and start to raise the bar.
    This is going to be hard, because in our liberal area, we get nothing but the watered down type of liturgy. If our clergy “don’t believe it”, they can’t expect the average layperson to care or bother.

  20. Kathleen10 says:

    Defender of Truth did not say people “don’t get anything out of it” (the Mass). I did. Oops.

  21. KateD says:

    As far as evangelization goes, in a class I have been taking recently that is mostly comprised of atheists, pagans and fallen away Catholics, I have seen that they are struck by the holiness and gentleness of a fellow classmate who is Russian Orthodox. She is constantly in prayer, and never confrontational, she never rebukes even though she is very aware of the spiritual and moral ailments of our fellow classmates. Then in quiet moments a classmate will seek me out to discuss matters of faith, why they left, issues they have. One person who is very forthright, announced loudly at the last class their disdain for Christians and the reason why. This person has good cause to distrust self proclaimed Christians, but then in the same breath that person said, “but I’ve never known any Christians like the two of you. You are changing my mind.” I agree with Benedetta. Perhaps Saint Francis was right when he said we should, “preach at all times and sometimes use words”…

    Within the Church we should make clear the faith, take back the field of parish catechetical programs, firmly correct error and toss out secular humanists who have led so many astray….until they are ready to accept God’s teaching above their own.

  22. Traductora says:

    I have spent time with Latin American Pentecostals, and actually, it is the proselytism that gets them in the door, not the emotional music (which you have in all Catholic churches now anyway).

    Everyone has one question, Master, what must I do to be saved, that is, how must I live? The Pentecostals perhaps go overboard and confuse not drinking or smoking with holiness, but at the same time, they also preach against fornication, theft, drug use, and a host of other behaviors that are the plague of Latin American society. Men are told to marry the mothers of their children and support them; women are told to be faithful to their husbands.

    On the other hand, the moral teaching of the Church has virtually disappeared. The Church regards itself as just another NGO, busy trying to get benefits from the State for itself or to get government programs for all. There is no such thing as individual moral authority and individual moral choice in today’s Catholic Church.

    Interestingly, one woman told me that the thing that had attracted her was that the Pentecostals who lived a virtuous life also did much better materially – no drinking up the paycheck, having crowds of children that nobody supported, no joining gangs, etc.

    The Church needs to get back to preaching and teaching. We aren’t just talking about some abstraction, we’re talking about God, who He is, how we are made in His image and likeness, what he has done for us in Christ, and how we should live in response.

    Instead, the Church has been nearly silent on its teachings for decades, and now in fact it even seems to be on the verge of abandoning them (with the Pope’s bizarre statement that what was formerly viewed as impure can now become good…what the heck was he talking about?).

    So while I completely agree that beautiful liturgy reminds and supports people on their journey, the Church (officially, not just through isolated laypeople, but through the bishops and clergy) has got to start calling people to start out on that journey in the first place. People are dying of starvation and the Church is, alas, busy handing them stones.

  23. mburn16 says:

    Complex problems rarely have simple solutions, and ones that do rarely persist long enough to get so much attention. It is impossible to deny that Catholics are being horribly out-gunned in the recruitment department, primarily by Evangelical protestant denominations. Evangelicals will bang on doors, shout on street corners, and hike through college campuses. Catholics do little, if any, of this. The result is not in our favor.

    We NEED to knock on doors. We NEED to shout on street corners. We NEED to actively recruit young people by staging on-campus events beyond the chapel door. We should be making a very strong point that only those in full communion with the Catholic Church can trace the authority of their faith in an uninterrupted, non-schismatic line back to Christ. That would be a powerful point to many people.

    At the same time, its true we have something of a market disadvantage when it comes to our theology. For one, it is far more complex than most Protestant theology (I’m not making a criticism one way or the other). Its easy enough to stand up and say “accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, and you will be saved”. Catholics have a far more complex view that is more difficult to elaborate on, particularly when the Church provides very little in the way of instruction on such topics. Yet even if we can get to that point, we’re going to run into the significant roadblock that Protestants very nearly promise salvation. Accept Jesus as God, and no matter what you do, you’ve earned yourself a one-way, irrevocable, first-class ticket to Heaven the moment things on Earth really start getting hairy. The Catholic road to salvation is longer, more difficult, requiring continuous renewal and repentance. That’s going to be a tough sell.

  24. 6daughters says:

    When we belonged to parishes that had modern music, no catechesis and watered down liturgy, I never invited any protestant (or fallen away Catholic) relatives or friends to come to Mass. Since I have been at a more traditional parish (Saint Agnes in St. Paul) I invite people all the time. The experience is so different from what they’re used to that those invited will notice the difference immediately and hopefully be moved by the liturgy (especially the EF or the sacred music Mass).

  25. Stephanus83:
    Have you ever heard of St. Paul Street Evangelization? I am a recent graduate from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), and the situation you describe (a great lack of Catholic evangelization) is what led us to start a SPSE chapter on our campus. I would love to get in touch with you about seeing if a similar chapter could be started at OSU. You can find our contact information on our group’s website and also see some pictures of our efforts on campus:

    The term “street evangelization” sounds scary to some, but after doing it for three years I can honestly say that it is probably the easiest type of evangelization possible. We use a non-confrontational approach, and I think people realize right away that we are different from the protestant groups in that we seek to talk WITH people instead of AT them. Also, I think this kind of witness is especially needed on our college campuses. Amidst so many conflicting and false messages, we need people standing up for the Truth of the Catholic Faith!

    Anyway, shoot our group an email if you think this might be possible at OSU. There may already even be an active chapter in your area:

  26. Thom says:

    We need a strong, hard identity liturgical life!
    And that includes more of The Liturgy of the Hours.

    Yes, yes! A thousand times yes!

  27. suedusek says:

    Do we need “more direct and forceful” evangelization?

    What exactly is meant by “more direct and forceful” evangelization? Some people confuse evangelizing with catechizing. While the two may be related, they are not the same thing. Not strictly so. People must be evangelized, first, and catechized, second. The Pope is right when he says that we must attract people by our witness–by the example by which we live our lives. There must be something attractive about the Gospel, lived, in everyday life. It has to be personal.

    IDK. Lots of stuff in the news lately about SSM and what we should do. So much hand-wringing. How do we change hearts, since our current civil laws no long support Christian doctrine on marriage? Here is a really good article I came across today. Read it if you have time. I think it’s really good.

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