Written by Sherry
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 11:16
Archbishop Chaput of Denver gave a speech earlier today at a conference in Rome: Priests and Laity on Mission. The Archbishop has hit the nail on the head again.
"But when we talk about a theme like today's topic – “Priests and laity together, changing and challenging the culture” – we need to remember that what we do, proceeds from who we are. Nothing is more dead than faith without works (Jas 2:17); except maybe one thing: works without faith. I do not think Paul had management issues in his head when he preached at the Areopagus. Management and resources are important – but the really essential questions, the questions that determine everything else in our life as Christians, are these: Do I really know God? Do I really love him? Do I seek him out? Do I study his word? Do I listen for his voice? Do I give my heart to him? Do I really believe he's there?"
We have an obligation as Catholics to study and understand the world around us. We have a duty not just to penetrate and engage it, but to convert it to Jesus Christ. That work belongs to all of us equally: clergy, laity and religious. We are missionaries. That is our primary vocation; it is hardwired into our identity as Christians. God calls each of us to different forms of service in his Church. But we are all equal in baptism. And we all share the same mission of bringing the Gospel to the world, and bringing the world to the Gospel.
And yet, Kolakowski's devil was right. The fundamental crisis of our time, and the special crisis of today’s Christians, has nothing to do with technology, or numbers, or organization, or resources. It is a crisis of faith. Do we believe in God or not? Are we on fire with a love for Jesus Christ, or not? Because if we are not, nothing else matters. If we are, then everything we need in order to do God's work will follow, because he never abandons his people.
Fr. Mike and I have had so many conversations lately with priests, pastors, diocesan staff, lay Catholics in different dioceses - all on the same topic: how is it possible that a Church that possesses the "fullness of the means of salvation" (CCC, 292) does not also possess a culture of discipleship? How is it that so many active Catholics regard talk of discipleship as foreign, judgmental, exaggerated, bizarre, not-Catholic?
Think I'm exaggerating? I wish.
A while back, one sharp eye witness at a major gathering of diocesan leaders to discuss evangelization described watching one major diocesan player rise and object to the whole conversation: "I mean who do you know actually who wants to surrender their whole life to Christ?" No one actually is at a place to want to make a decision to give their life to Christ."
As Archbishop Chaput put it so tellingly today: Nothing is more dead than faith without works except maybe one thing: works without faith.