Thursday, April 26, 2007

More on evangelization

Amy has a fantastic post up starting with the recent contretemps involving Evangelical Catholic. I posted the following comment there (it hasn't shown up yet; no idea there's issues or it's just taking time). All very incoherent, but here we go:

I'm gung-ho about the EC (Evangelical Catholic) phenomenon (my own two cents about the recent contretemps are here, ): the Catholic Church is vast and diverse and as Amy rightly points out, there's room for a variety of approaches. I've never heard anyone at EC claim that their's is the only way. To me, EC, and the other movements, are clearly in response to Pope John Paul -- who saw the state of things so clearly -- who called for a new evangelization, new in "ardor and methods and expression." The task of evangelization is indeed the whole church's, and EC, in my opinion and experiences, tries to do that by making disciples full of zeal and love for the Lord and His Church.

Another way of talking about these things is (to use the title of a recent book published by Paulist Father Bob Rivers, here's the review from America) is to emphasize mission (the mission of all believers) versus just maintenance, when it comes to our parish structures. [I recall an instance when Fr. Rivers had delivered a keynote at a conference in SC on this topic, and a friend of mine, a convert from evangelical Protestantism, leaned over and said, "This is new stuff for Catholics?] How many of our parishes are, if we're honest about it, to use this metaphor, just about "maintenance?"

I also think this kind of "intentionality" or "discipleship" -- while certainly a call for every age -- is particularly necessary in ours, with the insidious onslaught of secularism. In India, I see this in the urban areas, among my own friends, those who feel that their faith is only holding them back, or who see it as irrelevant or against progress and modernity, who don't get why the Sacraments are such a big deal. I've got these various thoughts about what I'm calling "ethnic" Catholicism/Christianity (which functions socially much as an ethnicity does -- lots of strengths, but some serious weaknesses, the biggest being difficulty in critiquing the surrounding culture, and, in response to secularism, a loss of nerve or self-confidence, and with it, an inability to transmit the faith meaningfully to the next generation.), and I see these as connecting back to a lack of "intentionality" or perhaps a sense of personal commitment to Christ.

Finally, I completely symphathize with Fr. Tucker: why get your child baptized if it doesn't mean anything? Yes, canon law describes the faithful as having "rights" to the sacraments. But not without responsibility? But then, do we really want to have parishes that administer the sacraments strictly?

Lots of stray thoughts which I may connect, God willing, at some point, a little more coherently.

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