The Catholic Moment
It is time! Time for Catholics to be proactive in proposing the Catholic Faith intelligently and winsomely to the world.
Countless non-Catholics readily acknowledge respect for the strong position of the Church on moral issues notwithstanding the recent treacherous betrayal of these truths by leading churchmen. Worried as they are about the decay of post-Western civilization they see in the Church that they know only from the outside a “Helm’s Deep” (Tolkien), a last fortress refusing to surrender to the “Dictatorship of Relativism”.
As the convert, Richard John Neuhaus, stated:
“There is reason to hope that, after the long winter of its jaded discontent, the modern world may be entering a season of greater receptivity to the truth that the Church has to offer.
“The great British novelist Anthony Burgess sometimes described himself as an apostate Catholic. Shortly before he died, he wrote, ‘My apostasy had never been perfect. I am still capable of moaning and breast-beating at my defection from, as I recognize it, the only system that makes spiritual and intellectual sense.’ […]
“The Holy Father [Pope John Paul II] speaks frequently of the Third Millennium as a springtime….He cannot know and we cannot know what is in store for us, but we can be prepared. We can be prepared to be surprised by a time in which thoughtful men and women will give a new hearing to the only truth that ‘makes spiritual and intellectual sense’.
“One runs a risk by suggesting that the world needs to hear, whether it knows it or not, the truth that the Church has to offer. One runs the risk of, among other things, being accused of triumphalism.
“If the alternative to triumphalism is defeatism, we should not fear to be known as triumphalists.
“But the only triumph that we seek is the triumph already secured by the One who came “not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).
“Springtime may not produce immediate results, indeed the result may seem like failure.
“But we know that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
“And there were seeds sown long ago in cultures once called Christian, seeds that may again be breaking through the earth that has for so long been hard frozen under the ice of indifference and unbelief.
“I take it that this is what the Holy Father means when he so earnestly calls us to the tasks of ‘re-evangelization’.
“To re-evangelize-to sow anew, and to nurture to new life what is already there but has for so long been stifled and stunted by neglect and faithless distraction. […]
“At the edge of the Third Millennium we stand amidst the rubble of the collapsed delusions of a modernity that sought freedom and life by liberating itself from the author and end of life.
“Many of the best and the brightest announced the death of God; what appeared, is the death of man. It is for man ‒for the humanum ‒ for men and women in their personal dignity and vocation to community that the Church contends.
“The Holy Father has tirelessly reiterated that the revelation of God in Christ is both the revelation of God to man and the revelation of man to himself…In the words of the encyclical, Redemptoris missio, ‘The Church imposes nothing, she only proposes’.
“But, if we understand the crisis and opportunity of our historical moment, we will propose the truth— urgently, winsomely, persuasively, persistently, ‘in season and out of season’ (2 Timothy 4:2). […]
“If we have the will and the wit for it, if we have the faith for it, a world that has lost its way is waiting to receive the gift of the Church, which is the good news of the One who is the Way.
“A world that has come to doubt the very existence of truth waits to hear from the One who is the Truth.
“A world falling headlong into the culture of death looks with desperate hope to the One who said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6).
“If we have the will and the wit for it, if we have the faith for it, this is our moment in the Catholic Moment which is every moment in time, and is most certainly this moment in time.” (Richard John Neuhaus, address of January 31, 1994)
For Love of God and Man, We Will Propose the Faith to Non-Catholics!
If more non-Catholics could only come into contact with Catholics actively seeking to provide them with an inside-view of the Faith they would be encouraged to consider conversion.
Or if they could become involved “in the trenches” with Catholics warring for the Culture of Life in some concrete project, such closeness to vibrant Catholics would foster intellectual curiosity about the ultimate motives of their brothers-in-arms. Provided of course that these Catholics talk to them about the Faith.
However, under the Dictatorship of Relativism, Catholics are being pressured to “drop” proposing the Faith to non-Catholics on the social and political grounds that somehow it implies disrespect and even intolerance of other religions thus causing social disunity.
We may not do this! We will not do this! For love of God. And for love of the men and women of our age!
The day we stop being pro-actively pro-convert is the day when we lose our identity, when we become spiritually dead!
Moreover, our aspirations must not be merely to hope that a few individuals may convert to the Faith. Our goal must be the conversion of entire nations – just as He commanded “Go, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them…”
The Faith will flourish to the degree that Catholics set the conversion of not only individuals but nations as their goal.
How could it be otherwise? To theoretically deny that we are called to propose the Faith to everyone is to deny that this is what God has commanded; to deny that is to deny the authority in which the entire Catholic Faith rests.
Now while only an influential minority of theologians deny this theoretically quite a number deny it practically by remaining lethargic and gagging anyone who wants to promote conversions by reducing missionary work exclusively to “presence” and “dialogue” made up of unending questions and no answers. But then, ask yourself: “Why be Catholic at all? Either the Catholic Faith is the set of truths about man’s purpose for existing revealed by God and commanded by Him to be offered to all men – or it is not. If it is not, then let’s close the shop. If it is – and it is – then let’s avoid collective or individual schizophrenia and be coherent in intelligently and winsomely inviting others (with, obviously, full respect for their freedom) to enter the Catholic Church.