Monday, December 5, 2011

How Can A Catholic Evangelize?

If you are not a regular viewer of “The Vortex” on, you should be!

Michael Voris has been speaking lately in ways that are meant to, and really should, stir us to take action in terms of evangelizing the culture, and defending the faith - boldly. In the Vortex episode from December 1, “All Zeal, No Truth”, Mr. Voris talks about the Protestant claim that they have saved one billion souls for Christ. He makes clear that the Vortex is not about disputing the number of souls saved, but asks, “Where is the Catholic effort to do this?”

Mr. Voris has a positive effect on my own motivation to evangelize…until I think the whole thing through. Our poor Church is under siege from within as well as from without. If one wants to evangelize as Mr. Voris exhorts us to do, just how does one go about it?

Suppose I want to introduce a non-Christian or a non-Catholic Christian to examine the truths of the Catholic faith. Well, there are many beautiful documents, there are many well-written books about what Catholics believe, and there are many ways to describe the splendor of the Truth that exists in the Catholic Church. All well and good! I can do that.

But then…of course I will want to bring such a person to Mass. I will want the person to see for himself how Catholics worship God, how they perceive the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our life in Christ. Right?

I have engaged in my own fantasy of evangelizing one particular young man, who happens to be the object of my daughter’s admiration and love, but who is not Catholic, and who doesn’t even attend church, even though he considers himself to be a Christian. I ask myself where we would take him to Mass, should he be so inclined to join us? What are the choices?

First of all, it’s sad that I have to ask that last question. The “choices” should be only marginally different from each other, and the differences should have more to do with time and location than anything else. This is, after all, the Catholic Church – catholic, universal. We’re supposed to be celebrating the Mass in the same way.

But that’s not the case. So I look at the limited possibilities over here in my neck of the woods. I have only a few choices because we are in rural northeastern Oregon. The choices all involve bad music – sometimes performed well, but bad nevertheless. No one sings the propers of the Mass, and no one uses Gregorian chant in any way shape or form. The songs are not always theologically sound, or even appropriate in musical mood or tone. There are endless guitars, sometimes piano, and now and then a trumpet (a “joyful” noise, yes, but just that: noise).

The Cathedral has a great choir loft…with a wonderful pipe organ, I might add. Are they put into use? No. Neither one is used now. Instead, we must have a clear view of the folk group, with guitars and tambourine, singing from their site at the edge of the sanctuary. Sigh.

Generally speaking, all of the parishes around here (the Cathedral being the exception) have churches with a wanna-be Protestant look, and with music that doesn’t quite cut it. I don’t want to have the young man experience that; he will only think that it could be good, if they would just get some younger people with electric guitars and a drum set to play some really contemporary stuff…you know, like that Pentecostal church down the road.

And then there are the little girl altar servers who are just so darn cute it makes you want to melt into a puddle of sugary sweet goo. Yeah, that’s gonna make a big impression on my daughter’s boyfriend…but not in a positive way. Not in a Catholic way.

So I find myself at a loss as to how to explain to a person, such as the young man my daughter is dating, that the Church’s liturgy is much more than this. It’s difficult to describe the liturgy celebrated properly; you have to be there. That’s the whole point, after all.

Of course, I chose to come into the Church based on the Truth, and not on the liturgy or the music (both of which I found sadly lacking, but for all the wrong Protestant reasons!). I pray others can do the same.

Still, Michael Voris makes a very good point at the end of his Vortex episode on this subject:

The Church exists for the sole reason of saving souls. Nothing more. It is not a giant social help agency or political lobbyist machine. Souls. Salvation. Heaven. If we had kept our eyes on these final goals in the first place .. there wouldn’t even be talk of a NEW evangelization. Preach the truth is all its glaring blinding beauty .. that is the only thing the Church is commissioned to do.

If we do that  - preach the truth in all its glaring, blinding beauty – then we will only have to pray that the Mass to which we escort the potential new Catholic will not undermine that truth.


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