Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Routes to Changing the Demise of Culture in America and the World

Watch and read Fr. Robert Barron's Word On Fire - The New Evangelization! and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s Address, Evangelizing Young Adults, to the Catholic Campus Ministry Association that I have posted below with my comments.  By focusing on the true needs of our young people, we can advance the health of the society very quickly focusing on the Truth. These two men get it.

Fr. Robert Barron's Word On Fire - The New Evangelization!
Youth need joyful excitement in their lives with a sense of a positive mission that will make a difference.


Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. Evangelizing Young Adults

The very wise Archbishop points out what many of us former youth in the pew, now older persons in the pew, have been trying to say for a very long time post the experimental age that occurred after Vatican II.  He states the problem:
Over the past five decades, we’ve moved from a culture permeated by religious faith to a culture that seems increasingly indifferent or cynical toward religion in general and Christianity in particular. Many Americans no longer claim any religious affiliation. And as Notre Dame’s distinguished social research scholar Christian Smith has shown, vast numbers of American young adults are, in effect, morally illiterate. They’re not bad people—far from it. But they lack the moral vocabulary and roots of a living religious tradition that would enable them to reason independently through complex ethical problems. They believe in God, but only in a generic, feel-good sense: God’s main job is giving them what they want when they want it.
At a minimum, this implies a massive failure of catechesis and young adult ministry, not to mention personal witness, on the part of my own generation. And I don’t think many of the men and women my age in the Church are willing to admit that yet. But the results don’t lie, and now we need to deal with the consequences.
This was not because what Vatican II taught and promoted in its documents. The Archbishop points out that:
A primary goal of the Second Vatican Council was to advance the Church as the sacrament of Christ in the world. A sacrament is, as we all remember, an outward sign, instituted by Jesus, to give grace. A vibrant Church, a vigorous and mission-oriented Church, radiates the presence of Jesus to others and gives us a share of Christ’s life and love.
The problem was a mix of widespread iconoclasm and a deconstruction of classic education replaced by the interpretation of knowledge by experts who sought to replace truth argued from faith and reason to a more morally relativistic platform that would rewrite what was fundamentally held in the society and that infected even the Church in the world. Both the Fr. Robert Baron video and Archbishop Chaput’s article demonstrate the solution to this problem and the reason for hope that we as a society do not have to be at a point of no return to the good.  Archbishop Chaput states:
God will multiply every gift we bring unselfishly to his service, no matter how meager our abilities. But we need to let God do his miracle by letting go of ourselves, our vanities, our plans, and our assumptions.
Too often in the Church we expect young adults to simply fill the empty slots of existing structures and ministries, even when some of the programs are obviously dead shells. Old methods of pastoral outreach predetermine the ways in which we employ new disciples. Then we’re surprised that nothing seems to change.
We’re frequently quick to dismiss new initiatives and ideas because “It’s not the way we do things here.” It’s “too liberal” or it’s “too conservative.” In my own experience as a bishop, I’ve been astonished at the number of campus ministers over the years who have rejected the obviously fruitful and very effective work of FOCUS—the Fellowship of Catholic University Students—for ideological reasons.
I cannot offer a magic blueprint to revivify campus ministry across the country and turn around our Church and culture in the next five years. But I know that we can’t afford to merely maintain the status quo. I know that we need visionaries, missionaries, leaders who will burn up every atom of themselves in the furnace of God’s service, so that nothing remains but the light and warmth of Jesus Christ blazing out to touch the lives of others.
Catholics involved in the New Evangelization must remember that each person has been given the gift of the free will. God will work with us, give us what is best for us to exercise it.  But we make the decision freely to say yes or no to His will. We can allow him to change our heart in our YES or to allow our heart to be hardened in its NO to Him.  That is what is meant when it is said we have a FREE will.  The ultimate civil snapshot of a society is the reflection where God’s will and natural law that promotes the common good is or is not playing out in the societal morality and policies. We must do what each of us can to put Christ back into play by spreading the faith one person at a time. Before becoming the Holy Father, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger said the following:
Man, precisely as man, remains the same both in primitive and in technologically developed situations. He does not stand on a higher level merely because he has learned to use more highly developed tools. Mankind begins anew in every single individual. This why it is not possible for the definitively new, ideal society to exist-that society built on progress, which not only was the hope of the great ideologies, but increasingly became the general object of human hope once hope in a life after death had been dismantled. A definitely ideal society presupposes the end of freedom. But since man always remains free and begins anew in every generation, we have to struggle in each new situation to establish the right societal form. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, (Pope Benedict XVI) Values In a Time of Upheaval, Ignatius Press, 2006 p. 25
The New Evangelization is about the Common Good and we need to evangelize our youth so that they, too, will make it their mission to establish the “right societal form”.

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