Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Need for More Evangelical Catholics

I will continue to promote the concept that "salvation" for our country rests not in social change, but in changed hearts. A change in heart demands a change in our daily actions and on-going lives. This can take on several themes or "skins" as our electronic gadgets call outward appearances. One of those physical realities is often described as a spirit of Evangelicalism. Deacon Alex Jones and other converts to the Catholic faith from Protestant Evangelicalism, give witness to bringing those core characteristics of Evangelicalism with them when they came into the Church—(1) a passion for the faith as expressed in ceaseless prayer and devotion; (2) a trust the Word of God, the Bible, as interpreted and expanded by the Church; (3) a fearlessness to tell others of the truth and meaningful lives we lead as Catholics; (4) a vigorous participation in worship and adoration; and (5) an active life-style of charity, especially to the poor.

I like the concept of "Evangelical Catholicism" because it speaks not just to evangelizing the Church and others, but evangelizing our own personal lives. The Church speaks officially of an on-going conversion of our hearts. One of the books we sell is THE THREE CONVERSION IN THE SPIRITUAL LIFE, a small book written in 1938 by Fr. Reginal Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. that sill resonates with the current time. It has a timelessness that we all need to contemplate. "All Catholics should go through three "conversions" in their spiritual life, but many do not" the jacket copy says. I would think "most" do not; yet all need that experience that the Apostles had at Pentecost.

Another book we distribute is THE 12 STEPS TO HOLINESS AND SALVATION. Yes, the Catholic version of salvation is as simple as our evangelical brothers suggest, but only as a beginning. The salvation we are called to is ultimately way beyond simply showing up for Mass every Sunday, or saying a few prayers during the week when we're depressed or in trouble. Comprised from the writings of St. Alphonsus Liguori, this book develops the 12 key virtues necessary for salvation: faith, hope, love of god, love of neighbor, poverty, chastity, obedience, meekness or humility, mortification, recollection, prayer, and self-denial or love of the cross. Not one paragraph is lacking. Yes, we all have a long way to go... and we better get going. There's much work to be done.

As our bishops struggle to find their backbone on the abortion issue, I am reminded how they are struggling also to be converted. Not in their faith in Christ, and not in their internal loyalty to the Church, but they struggle to be converted shepherds of ACTION. Rather than standing on a soapbox safety behind the rails of the sheep pen waving their crosier, the shepherd's staff with a hook on the end given to them as bishops, they need to venture out in the dark risky valleys, and put that stick around the neck of a few lost sheep (politicians and priests) and haul, yank, and drag them home to the pen with some sense of vitality, confidence, and determination. Yes, it will involve some risk. Yes, some bishops may be ridiculed by the press. Some, who are particularly good shepherds may risk death. But that is what they are called to do. The Apostles didn't become martyrs for the faith by hiding in the Christian ghetto worrying about how the pagans were going to perceive their charity. Real charity is thinking about eternal life, not life in the diocesan mansion. Who is their God? The press? Protestant pundits? Or, the Almighty who put Jonah in a whale's dark, acidic filled digestive system for a few days until he learned that obedience was better than person safety.

Of course, this has more to do with US as much as it has to do with our bishops or priests. We all need conversion. Of heart, mind, emotion, mind, and body. We need a REVIVAL. Pray for it. Fast for it. Work for it. That is what I'm doing at Nineveh's Crossing. Help us by buying our products and getting others to watch, read, and ingest the Church's truth into their hearts and lives.

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