The following is a post that I read earlier today on another Catholic blog. I gave my comments over there, but I feel that it is really important for me to write here about some of the topics addressed in this post.
One of the things that I was struck by was how much catechesis is needed for children and adults. I’m sure that many of you realize that there has been a lost generation of Catholics that came of age shortly after Vatican II. In fact, there could very well be two or three generations. These generations had very little catechesis as children. Rather, the catechesis that they received was rather poor compared to what is being offered to their children today.
The thing is that we must bring these Catholics back into the fold and educate them. One of the things that St. Francis preached about was the necessity of preaching the Gospel at all times. It is not necessary for us to preach in the public square and talk about God, but we can reach out to other fallen away Catholics in other ways as well. For example, I always pray my Franciscan Crown Rosary on the bus or at a bus stop. It is a visible sign of what I believe and who I am. But it is not only this, but a sermon without words. Seeing someone at prayer incites others to pray as well.
Yet we should not only do this, but we almost reach out to each other. Years ago, every Catholic parish in the country had CCD classes that were oriented towards adults. Some traditionalist parishes are very good about having their parishioners learn about their faith. For example, Mt. St. Michael in Spokane has an Adult Doctrine Class that goes over the Catechism of the Council of Trent. If the traditionalists can do it, why can’t we? Indeed, why is there so much resistance to adult education in some Catholic circles? Have we forgotten that it wasn’t just the children that Our Lord called, but twelve adult men who were fishermen as well as women such as St. Mary Magdalene? Indeed, it is a mystery to me, but the thing is that if we can trace the effects back to the cause, then we can see that the ferment of the 1960s and 1970s that followed Vatican II were also responsible in many ways for the problems that exist in our Church today.
Yet we should not blame ourselves for what has happened in the past. The fact of the matter is that we can still help the lost sheep to come back to the fold. Committees can be set up in parishes for outreach among fallen away Catholics. Special prayers can be recited after Mass for the return of these people, who sometimes only drop off their children at the curb for Sacramental Prep and then drive away. Indeed, we should try with all our might to bring back those that are abandoned, angry, or hurt by the Church. If we do not reach out to them, how are we expected to fulfill our mission?
It seems to me that St. Alphonsus Liguori was a man, who understood what it meant to bring back the lost sheep into the fold. During the course of his entire life, he sought to preach the Gospel to those souls that he felt were most abandoned by God. He journeyed by himself among the shepherds and villagers in southern Italian hamlets, who may have never heard the Gospels. Indeed, his Redemptorists continue to live in the most impoverished neighborhoods of the world and seek to bring people back to Christ by their preaching.
If St. Alphonsus could do such a marvellous job, why can’t we? There is nothing standing in our way. If we look at it realistically, no person can really tell us that what we are doing is an impossible dream or something extremely naive. Christ said that nothing was impossible with God. Indeed, Divine Providence will take care of us if we are willing to submit to It.
Remember, too, that you need not reach out to others via sermons, preaching, or many prayers. A smile or a kind word cna help many people to see their faith in a whole new light. Not only this, but a small holy card or pamphlet can trigger memories of the Church. If all else fails, invite people you know to Sunday Mass and tell them to “come and see.” If they are open and willing, God can work miracles in their own hearts.
Let us pray today for all of those that have fallen away from the Church and for their return and that we may find a way to reach out to them.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori, pray for us!