Wednesday, August 14, 2013
THOUGHTS ON THE OLD EVANGELISATION
But the reality is somewhat different: the New Evangelisation is not happening.
More so, it is doubtful whether or not it was ever intended to be a success, what with Cardinals like Dolan telling good and decent Muslims to stay firmly in their religion and with an unenthusiastic response from many parish priests to do some evangelising A moribund state has fogged over not only too many priests but many of those who might at one time been interested in investigating the claims made by Christ's Church. Then again what average person would want to enter a Church of balloons, tambourines, dreadful music, altar girls, stupid homilies, repellent architecture, offensive Liturgy, effeminate priests, chaos at the top, etc., ad nauseam? Seriously, who would want to enter the Catholic Church which has been a disfigured wreck of Herself for well nigh on fifty years?
I wouldn't if I were not already a Catholic.
Are there converts? A trickle. A few here and there. I pity and hope for them especially if their only acquaintance with the Church is the godawful mess they see before them now. The more sincere converts will have to peel away layer after layer of decay to find the exquisite pearl underneath, the pearl which the Modernists have been brilliantly successful at hiding for decades. Some do peel away the rotted leaves and they do see underneath. These good people soldier on in the Faith even in the face of such prelates as Donald Wuerl, a man who orders Holy Communion for public, unrepentant sex deviates and persecutors of Holy Church. For them to remain in a Church plagued with cowardice and treachery like that says much about their fortitude and their faith. These converts are like precious jewels.
There are, alas, not enough of these kinds of stalwart converts and it is unlikely that we will see such men in large numbers until the Church comes back to Her senses. Father Ray Blake on his blog discusses the sinister overtones that mark the Ricca Affair, a situation guaranteed to keep good people out of the Church. There will be no evangelisation new or old with this type of thing going on at the very top of the Church.
Putting the hoopla and the Madison Avenue PR which marks the much-vaunted "New Evangelisation" aside let us face the simple fact that there will be little to no effort on the part of the Institutional Church to even properly teach the Faith let alone welcome converts into it. As one writer said to Hamish Fraser thirty years ago, if they had used whips and chains they could not be doing a better job of driving people out of the Church...or keeping them from entering in. Let us ignore the glad-handing of certain jolly Cardinals and look into the matter soberly. If we do that we will find a better option to their posturing.
That option is simple: we might need to embark on the "old" evangelisation. And we have a job of work to do here if we should embark upon that path.
We begin by recognizing that Christ founded but One Church, not 235. If we're not straight on that fundamental point very little will come from our efforts at bringing people to the knowledge of the Truth. If we ignore this we disarm ourselves right from the start ensuring very little will come of our efforts. We must recall that martyrs and numerous missionaries did not give their lives because they thought that "maybe" the Catholic Church is the true one. So we must recognize this. Some Catholics find this foundational teaching difficult. Yet we must not flee from the hard sayings, from the truth.
If we know someone who is genuinely interested in the Faith we must expend effort to get them to read materials that were written by great and holy men: Archbishop Goodier, Dom Geuranger, Pohle-Preuss, Abbot Marmion, Father Faber, etc. Notice I did not say Augustine or Aquinas...yet. Let those gentle, erudite souls I have just listed lead your friend into Aquinas and Augustine and Jerome and Chrysostum and the rest naturally and in due time. Given them philosophy, but start them gently with Chesterton. Give them history with, of course, Belloc, then Wyndham-Lewis, then Hollis, etc. Give them meat. To poison their minds with the likes of de Lubac or Urs von Baltasar would be deadly to their enthusiasm while leaving them in a state of constant confusion, ambiguity and restlessness.
[A gentle warning: Oddly enough we are plagued with a number of sound, clear-thinking level-headed Catholic writers today who cannot write. These are people who have important things to say and have original thoughts but are incapable of putting them down on paper in a manner in which they will be understood. They have not grasped the art of simplicity in their writing, and please know that I am hardly exempting myself from any criticism on these points. Far too many exemplary Catholics either have adopted the literary modernisms like ambiguity, for example. What could be said in simple verbiage to average Catholics like this writer are loaded down with what used to be termed "ten dollar words" the only result of which is to leave one mystified. I am not sure what is to be gained by it. Then there are those who, on the other hand, write "down" to their readers fussily explaining every word or phrase that they imagine might not be understood by the Great Unwashed. Simplicity and directness of approach are the most effective. You will find that in Faber, Goodier, Belloc and others I have mentioned. Potential converts will appreciate directness and certainties.]
And more than anything else, introduce them to the Ancient Rite of Mass, that Mass that came to us over the centuries from the time Jesus Christ walked upon earth to the present day. As far as humanly possible keep them away from the unedifying and often idiotic New Mass and all its pomps and works. I have enormous admiration for Catholics who can remain Catholic even after attending this charade of a Mass every Sunday. They are made of sterner stuff than I. I hope that one day they will be able to enjoy the sweet taste of the quiet beauties and solace of the ancient. Needless to say if such a Rite is unavailable try to help them find the most dignified, least offensive New Mass available. (If neither of those two options are available then I am not sure how to advise. It may take some sacrifice to locate and attend a decent Liturgy).
It will shore up their strength if you discuss honestly the problems in the Church today always reminding them of the hope that God's promise will see us through this current catastrophe (perhaps the worst one in the entire history of the Church, if not the worst then certainly in the Top Three). To ignore the sordid realities in certain sectors of the Church today will not help potential converts nor help them prepare for the battles they will be engaging in at some point in time. Do this by making sure they visit sound, intelligent blogs and websites. Do not parochialize their thinking; show them the whole Catholic world in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, America, England, everywhere. It will edify and encourage them to know that there are concerned souls everywhere on the planet worrying and praying for a Church coming unglued, but certain in the belief that the Gates of Hell will never prevail.
That is our small contribution to the Old Evangelisation. Since the New one is a clear box-office flop we have to return to what has been effective for centuries. I am not certain what kind of Catholics will come from this New Evangelisation but I know that if we evangelise the way Christ asked us to we will produce good Catholics even, please God, a Saint or two.
Out with the New; in with the Old.