Sacramentalized But Not Evangelized
#1

A post by Father Longenecker:


Meeting the Master
October 21, 2013
By Fr. Dwight Longenecker




When discussing the problem of the Catholic Church one of the main culprits is “poor catechesis”. The lukewarmness of the laity, the misguided political correctness, the sentimentality, and bland, suburban do-gooder mentality prevalent in the pews is all blamed on “poor catechesis.”

“If only the people had been taught what the Catholic Church really teaches. Then we’d be okay!”

I’m the first to agree that there has been some very poor catechesis in the church, however, I’m not sure the problem is completely the fault of the religious publishers, trendy nuns, poorly educated Directors of Religious Education, left wing theologians and unconcerned pastors.

There is also a problem amongst the laity themselves. The best way I can describe this problem is an attitude of “I’m a cradle Catholic. Don’t you try to catechize me!” How many adult Catholics have taken the trouble to have any form of religious education after being confirmed? It would be interesting to know. [html]Catholics still make up the largest religious grouping in the United States. Why are Catholic publishers not selling millions of books like the Evangelical publishers do? Because Catholics don’t read about their faith. [/html]How many adult Catholics have taken the trouble to go on a retreat, a conference, a seminar to learn more about their faith and grow in their knowledge and love of God? Not many.

Vox Wrote:I think a lot of that might have to do with the lack of emphasis by lay Catholics (not the Church, not the religious, not priests) on Sacred Scripture. I think a book about Sacred Scripture that is HEAVY into typology would be a fascinating read for Catholics, esp. since it will buttress the Faith like nothing else. There used to be a guy who posted here, named LumenGentleman, who was just brilliant about this topic. I'd love it if he were to write a book about this -- or teach me what he knows, turn me on to his sources of info, and I had the time to write such a book. It''s fascinating stuff to read Scripture like the Church Fathers did!

Ignorance of the faith? Absolutely. Poor catechesis? Absolutely. Who’s fault is it? Just as much the laity who don’t have the level of commitment or interest necessary to do anything more than turn up for Mass on Sunday (when they don’t have anything better to do)

Vox Wrote:I see that as a chicken and egg problem. Folks are not catechized, so they don't understand what the Mass is, so they don show up for it, and, so they don't get the catechsis the Mass offers. And, of course, if their Mass is the Novus Ordo, the catechetcal value and Mass readings have been watered down in the first place.


[html] Underlying this complacency is the lack of a real, life changing experience of Jesus Christ. They encounter with the One who changes everything has not happened. The typical Catholic in the pew has been sacramentalized but not evangelized. They have even been catechized (and often not too badly) but not evangelized. They have yet to be converted. [/html] Excuse this former Evangelical from lapsing back into Prot-talk, but many Catholics have yet to “meet Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior”. They have not looked up from the fishing boats of their ordinary lives and heard the call of the Master to leave their nets and follow Him.

Vox Wrote:And THIS! Yes! There are a lot of Catholics who simply go through the motions, who, in fact, have not allowed Christ to change them. I refer back to the Power of Christ thread.

Furthermore, there is a deep seated resistance to such an encounter. “I’m a cradle Catholic. Don’t you try to evangelize me!”

[html] The bottom line–and this is a message hammered home by Pope Benedict and Pope Francis–is that the Christian adventure is about the encounter with Christ. All the sacraments, all the catechesis, all the liturgies, all the good works of the church, all the theology, all the spirituality, the canon law, the devotions and disciplines–all of it is a structure or a method or a framework for the soul to encounter Christ, and to walk in the way with our hearts burning within us.[/html]


How does this evangelization take place? I have just been keynote speaker this month at two conferences focussing on the New Evangelization and my talk each time revolved around the way we transmit the faith. Why are you a Catholic today? I’m a Catholic Christian because of the example of my parents and because of a few radiantly alive Catholics. People who lived the faith and loved Christ and his people. They were not especially pious or holier than thou. They were simply alive in Christ, and what they had is what I wanted.

Benedict XVI calls this “attraction”. It is the supernatural attraction of a soul to Christ seen in another person. It is the moth being drawn to the light and the metal drawn to the magnet. It is as natural and real as water flowing downhill or the sun rising and setting. This abundant and authentic life is not something which can be manufactured with a method or produced with a gimmick. It is not something which can be taught, but is something that can be caught.

This attraction happens as a side effect of sanctity. It is the result, not the first aim of the would be saint. Pope John Paul II outlined the way in his pastoral letter Into the New Millennium  where he says that this flows from the heart of contemplation. A person spends more and more time with Christ until Christ’s glory is reflected in that person’s abundant and whole life. They become like the thing they worship, and Christ in them draws others to the everlasting encounter.

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#2
I have another bubble to burst. If we need to sell books to teach the Faith, don't get in the weeds. There is plenty of books like that, and that's why they are not read. Mother Angelica said there is a special place in purgatory for the guys that write the lives of the saints. What she was getting at is the stories are puffed up and the picture painted is they are more than perfect. They were humans. They said shit. They punched people out. They got dirty doing physical work.

Jesus Christ was a construction worker. Fr. Pacwa said there is part of a table and part of a yoke for oxen which still exist and are believed to be His work. Jesus Christ taught in little stories, He didn't sit with the Doctors in the Temple arguing about angels on the head of a pin. The solution is in the words of St. Benedict "ora et labora".
Teach the basics thoroughly. Teach the Mass. Teach the Sacraments. Teach them that morals do apply in this wicked world. Teach a prayer life.Trust the Holy Ghost.

tim
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#3
(10-22-2013, 08:33 PM)Tim Wrote: I have another bubble to burst. If we need to sell books to teach the Faith, don't get in the weeds. There is plenty of books like that, and that's why they are not read. Mother Angelica said there is a special place in purgatory for the guys that write the lives of the saints. What she was getting at is the stories are puffed up and the picture painted is they are more than perfect. They were humans. They said sh**. They punched people out. They got dirty doing physical work.

Jesus Christ was a construction worker. Fr. Pacwa said there is part of a table and part of a yoke for oxen which still exist and are believed to be His work. Jesus Christ taught in little stories, He didn't sit with the Doctors in the Temple arguing about angels on the head of a pin. The solution is in the words of St. Benedict "ora et labora".
Teach the basics thoroughly. Teach the Mass. Teach the Sacraments. Teach them that morals do apply in this wicked world. Teach a prayer life.Trust the Holy Ghost.

tim

Yes! The Saints got dirty, they sweated, they went to the bathroom just like everone else, they had bad days, they struggled (sometimes literally) with demons, they had dark nights of the soul, etc. -- which is why, despite a sentimental soft spot for it, I am so down on "l'Art St. Sulpice" -- that style that's found on most holy cards, with the pink-cheeked Jesuses and puffball Saints. It's also one of the many reasons why I have such a deep admiration for Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," which showed Our Lady as a real woman, which she is (though now glorified). That final shot in which she holds her dead Son and looks right at the camera, at US, seeming to say, "YOU put Him here!" is the single most powerful frame of film in movie History. I think the St. Sulpice Saints leads to a sugary, overly sentimental view of the Church, attractive to people who suffer from anomie and a longing to return to Victorianism (many aspects of which I'd like to -- not "return" to, but make our own again), and which breeds an unwillingness to look humanity in its face and see allllll sorts of people, ALL of whom God wants to be in His Church.

Some folks seem to want the Church to be for the perfect only, rather than a place for sinners. But God wants the metal-heads,bikers,  the tattooed, the folks with the piercings, homosexuals, the mentally ill, transsexuals, whores, drug addicts -- everyone -- to belong to Him and be in His Church. And when all of those people join Her, they deserve traditional Catholic doctrine, sound catechesis, traditional Sacramental rites, and to not be scorned for liking metal, liking to ride, having tattoos, having piercings, being homosexual, being mentallly ill, etc. (though of course, they should refrain from sin, like any Catholic).

The Art St. Sulpice lens on things, though, causes folks to look right past these people or, worse, scorn them. That is NOT how Our Lord looks at and treats them. IOW, I think that pink-cheeked Jesus stuff makes for a human element of the Church wherein human beings just don't fit. And that's wrong. While I'm the woman who wrote about attire and etiquette at the Mass, I also think that the people who show up at Mass and find themselves bitter and angry when they see they are not surrounded just by men in suits and women in pearls are showing their desire for escapism rather than holiness.

And while, as you know, Tim, I am SO not into treating the Faith as a philosophy, or as a thing just for the egg-headed, I also think that the intellectual types need to be fed, so seeing more solidly Catholic books that cover things too many Catholics know too little about (typology is what came to my mind, though I can think of other stuff) -- I think it'd be a GREAT thing. I'm the bookworm type, though... That lots of folks aren't is fine and good! -- but the thing with the intellectual type is this:  if they get dissatisfied, they often write books or start websites/blogs filled with error, or they often start movements, and those movements can sometimes be bad ones that drag souls to Hell. The brainiacs need knowledge on a deeper level than some other folks; that's how they're made, and that's fine, too...

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#4
Here is a great article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Hatred for the Catholic Church comes from all quarters, and one of this attack — that the Catholic Church is "corrupt, immoral and riddled with crime" is one of the more typical.

My tweets must have been re-tweeted to a less than sympathetic audience because a reply came floating back that anyone with a conscience should leave the "corrupt, immoral, crime ridden Catholic Church."

What I find curious in the present wave of anti-Catholicism is that the new atheists and the old fundamentalists resort to many of the same attacks on the Catholic religion.  Hatred for the Catholic Church comes from all quarters, and one of this attack — that the Catholic Church is "corrupt, immoral and riddled with crime" is one of the more typical.

What no one stops to consider is that no knowledgeable Catholic disputes the fact that there is immorality, crime and corruption in the Catholic Church.  We've known that from the beginning.  In fact, the Lord Christ himself said that the sheep and the goats would be mingled together and that the wheat and the weeds would grow in the same field.  Indeed, among the holy apostles themselves were those who were less than holy.  Judas was a traitor who sold his Lord and his soul for a bag of money then went out and hung himself.  Peter was a loud mouthed coward, Thomas a timorous doubter, Paul a violent and ignorant man and an accessory to murder.  The list could go on.

Of course there is immorality and corruption and crime in the Catholic Church.  What did you expect — a tighty whitey sect of grinning do gooders with their hair combed and their shoes shined and their ties tied out handing out gospel tracts?  What did you expect a group of nice old ladies who bake cookies and run a soup kitchen?  What did you expect — a group of sincere activists who want to bring in a more politically correct world for all the people they happen to feel sorry for?  You can certainly find groups of do gooders like that, but they won't be the Catholic Church.  They'll be some sort of frightful sect you wouldn't want to join if you had a chance.

Instead, in the Catholic Church — like any group of human beings — you'll find the good and the bad mixed up together.  You'll find the agony and the ecstacy — the joy and the sorrow — the sinner and the saint, and isn't that what you'd expect to find if you were looking for an authentic religion?  Isn't that what you find when you read the Old Testament?  Isn't that what you find when you read human history?  Isn't that what you find when you study your own family tree?  Isn't that what you find when you look in the mirror?

The reason I love the 'corrupt and crime ridden Catholic Church' is that first of all we admit that it is such, and second, we're sorry that it is such and third, that we are trying to do something about it.  The Catholic Church might be corrupt and crime ridden, but the Catholic Church is also the only institution that can do anything about it.  Of course the Catholic Church is full of sinners.  Just like a hospital is full of sick people.  The Lord does not call the righteous but sinners to repentance, and since that is the case we should expect that it is sinners who respond to the call, come in out of the cold and ask for the necessary treatments to make things better.

We are all not happy with the crime and sin and corruption in the Catholic Church, but we can't imagine any other church that would be any different.  Catholics are a work in progress and those of us who acknowledge we are sinners feel comfortable with other people who are also still working on it.  Like an AA group: "Hi I'm Dwight.  I'm a sinner."

So I'm not real worried about the Catholic Church being full of crime and corruption and a good number of sinners.  It makes me feel at home.

What worries me are the self righteous people who blame the Catholic Church for being such.  Do they really think they are so much better than everybody else?  Geesh!  It's those type of people who give me the creeps — not the sad sinners who sit in our pews week by week.  At least they know they need help.  The ones who think they don't need help?  They're the squeaky clean zombies that make me shudder.
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#5
I also wanted to share something else. It is both an invitation and a privilege for those who live in Southern California. If you live in Southern California I would invite you to come check out the Brotherhood of Saint Dismas. It is a Catholic Confraternity (for guys only) which stresses penitence and evangelization to Christ. If you don't live hear in Sunny Southern California Prayers would also work out

Here is a bit of information including the link to the website for more info

The Hermandad de San Dimas is a brotherhood of Catholic men who come together to encourage each other in our struggle to be faithful followers of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

THE CALL TO CONVERSION

Christ calls each one of us to conversion of heart, to abandon sin and to follow Him to eternal life.  The Church tells us:  Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!” God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1432). We are here because we have heard the call to conversion and we seek to answer it.

DISCOVERING THE FAITH

As the Catechism points out, it is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that conversion begins in us.  Through the Scriptures God makes known to us His infinite mercy and love.  For this reason studying the Word of God and the teaching of the Church is a priority in our weekly fellowships and formation classes.

OUR RULE OF LIFE

Conversion of heart is only genuine if it changes our outward life.  The Church teaches: The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1434).  All hermanos of San Dimas are committed to a rule of life that emphasizes these three fundamental aspects of conversion: prayer, penance, and works of charity.

EVANGELIZATION

Personal conversion is not enough, however.  Christ asks us to share the graces we have received with others.  We take seriously our obligation to evangelize those around us.  We have a special interest in reaching those who have been incarcerated or have been involved in gangs, or drugs, and who may feel unwelcome in a parish community. We are also committed to the evangelization of the youth of our families and neighborhoods, and we sponsor initiatives, in cooperation with the parish, to further that end.

WHAT WE DO

We meet every week for fellowship and Bible study, each month we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we offer testimonies and presentations by our brothers and invited speakers, we hold retreats and days of recollection, as well as family and social events throughout the year.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

On a side note many of the people from this group have been incarcerated and have struggled throughout their lives. Yet this are the men that inspire me. Many of these people are traditional and DEEPLY care about their faith, much more than those who did not struggle in life. Why is that? It is because they are humbled to know that they have tried it their own way and it did not work. Now they try Christ's way which obviously works.

Also it is through this group (besides this websites) that I found out about the Latin Mass as well as clear Catholic teachings. The group was founded by a Norbertine priest Fr Adrian and two of the original brothers.

The priest does not currently offer the Latin Mass but hopefully in the future they will. However it is a very reverent Novus Ordo with 95-100 % of the people kneeling down and I just love that.

Here is the link

http://hsdo.org/about/
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#6
Vox, your last three paragraphs are right there. My vision only goes so far, but you've summed it well. We are the body of Christ so each of us is a part, not all of us are mystical brain cells. What I see is lack of balance. Certainly there is a higher place for the "egg heads" but the rest of us in the toes and legs have to be included.

tim
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#7
When Catholics today come to church to receive the sacraments, they almost always are not being evangelized from the pulpit. Instead of conversion to the person of Christ, we hear about man-centered religion, which is what is expressed by the New Mass.

More than books, the laity need to see the true Faith first hand. The best catechesis is the Mass of All Times. The Traditional Latin Mass, the traditional Catholic Mass, is the best way to truly bring souls to Christ.
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#8
Vox, I am currently reading “A Practical Commentary on Sacred Scripture” by bishop Frederick Justus Knecht.  It goes through all of the major stories of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it cuts out the minor stuff, and offers awesome commentary. 

The Commentary does exactly what you say, it shows how the various old testament people are “Types” of Christ (or Mary in some cases) and how certain events foreshadow New Testament realities.  It also offers practical moral advice based on the reading.  It is an absolutely fascinating read!  I recommend that every Fishy here reads this book.
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#9
Evangelizing is to get out in the world and engage others. The way Jesus did with the Samaritan women at the well. To be a cultural Catholic only, or a sacramental Catholic only, just won't fly these days. In fact, I don't think it ever did. I've seen it written on this forum and other forums as well. We want a Catholic "sanctuary." We want peace and comfort and safety. We want to hide in our stained glass closets and hear beautiful chant and gaze at glossy holy cards and talk with people who will agree with everything we say. Our Lord gave the example. He sometimes retreated to the wilderness, he sometimes taught in the synagogues and prayed in the temple, but he always mingled with the crowds, who were like sheep without a shepherd. He was a shepherd who "smelled like the sheep" because he got close enough. He got his hands dirty.

Saints were truly evangelical. Even when they lived in monasteries. They had to teach their fellow monks who needed a deeper conversion too. Don't we all? Today we talk about the New Evangelization which speaks of nominal and fallen away Catholics, how to get them back in the church. They were probably badly catechized, but I don't think that's anything new or unusual. Read the lives of Sts. Angela Merici and John Bosco who taught poor children. There's a 400-year difference in time there, but the problem was the same. Young girls and boys on the street did not know their religion. They didn't even know the Trinity. These were not pagans, but baptized Catholics raised in a Catholic land, under the shadow of St. Peter's dome! Maybe they knew the Christmas story, could do the Stations of the Cross, pray to St. Anthony when they lost something, and pray to St. Anne when they wanted a good husband and a healthy baby. But they needed conversion! We need more folks like Angela Merici and John Bosco, not afraid to get their hands dirty.

Education is the first step. We have to know God in order to love him. And Catholics are notorious for not continuing their education. It usually stops with 8th grade and/or confirmation class. We are responsible for teaching ourselves throughout our adult lives. When all is said and done, we will not be judged on what we knew, but what we DID with what we knew.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble. I enjoyed the article very much.
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#10
(10-23-2013, 12:00 PM)AxxeArp Wrote: Vox, I am currently reading “A Practical Commentary on Sacred Scripture” by bishop Frederick Justus Knecht.  It goes through all of the major stories of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it cuts out the minor stuff, and offers awesome commentary. 

The Commentary does exactly what you say, it shows how the various old testament people are “Types” of Christ (or Mary in some cases) and how certain events foreshadow New Testament realities.  It also offers practical moral advice based on the reading.  It is an absolutely fascinating read!  I recommend that every Fishy here reads this book.

Found it! Amazon link here. This book sounds fantabulous!

[Image: 51GQTVC7E5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg]


A review:

This is an invaluable book. As mentioned in other reviews, it is not a book by book commentary. It provides a narrative of an (abridged) section of scripture followed by a fascinating commentary that weaves together orthodox theology, history, and scripture study. This book is presented in a way that takes you through the bible so that you grasp the overall cohesiveness of the entire bible. Although not every chapter and verse is covered it provides you with a framework to go back and explore the rest of scripture. It was originally written as a text for school children, but don't let that throw you off, it's at a level appropriate for most lay Catholic adults.

To be honest, like many Catholics today, I had never read the entire bible or studying it seriously although I knew a lot of scripture from attending Mass regularly. I always wanted to but I never knew exactly how to go about it in a meaningful way. I feel much more confident exploring my bible after reading this commentary. This book presents the entire story of salvation- God's great plan from Adam and Eve to the founding of the Church. And it's true- it's difficult to put down! The language is a bit antiquated but that doesn't detract from the overall text- a fantastic resource.


A review:
"A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture" is great because it explains a lot of the important biblical events in the Bible. It explains it according to Catholic teaching. There is no Modernist or liberal commentary here. It was recommended by over ten Catholic bishops during the pontificate of His Holiness, Pope Pius XI.

It does not explain every book in the Bible and summarizes much of the important events of the Bible.

For example, the explanation of the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden is quite excellent, especially the importance of why Adam and Eve were not supposed to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.


Nice!
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