Monday, 24 December 2007

A new start

Yesterday the News carried reports that Catholicism was the leading religion in the country. The statistics show that attendance at Anglican Sunday services has dropped by 20 per cent since 2000. A survey of 37,000 churches shows the number of Catholics going to Sunday Mass in England last year averaged 861,000, compared with 852,000 Anglicans ­worshipping, and thatthe rise of Catholicism has been bolstered by an influx of immigrants from eastern Europe and Africa, who have packed the pews of Catholic parishes that had previously been dwindling.
However, beyond the sensationalism of the Headlines, that Britain is now Catholic, lies another reality: the reality of pagan Britain. These religious statistics reveal that proportionally the number of Christians in the country is very small in a society whose predominant culture is antithetical to the Gospel, a culture marked by consumerism, alcohol and drugs poisoning, pornography, chav, gay, violence, and the culture of death, and a mass media which operates at an IQ level of 14 and which is utterly opposed to the Gospel. Indeed, in choosing to give up the Gospel our country is reverting to its original indigenous state, adopting cultures which are virtually impossible to evangelise, as we are experiencing. What’s more, those who are the forefront of evangelisation today are neither the Catholics nor the Anglicans, but the Evangelicals – they are doing our work for us!
Last week’s headline statistics put one in mind of the first evangelisation of our country which was carried out, after the long brutal centuries of the ‘Dark Ages’, largely by celibate Cistercian monks. These monastic communities gradually first civilised, brought order, then evangelised and baptised the peoples of this country. It was a task which took hundreds of years and which brought spiritual, material, social and political benefits. It is that same task which we must begin again, except that today, this task is being experienced as a new Pentecost and is rightly called the New Evangelisation.

1 comment:

JP said...

I think this post is correct and Fr, you know better than I the hardships of evangelisation; however I think your post misses out something which I feel is prominent in our culture - the rejection of reason.

People today are so mixed up with this utilitarian mindset that they are beggining to forget right and wrong and thus replacing it with a false happiness. Although the Utilitarian philosophers like Harris and Singer raise ligitimate questions and make valid points. Our failure in the Church and wider in society is to simply call them names. It's not a good response. We need to start confronting head on the big issues, and not simply sidestepping them.

More than the rejection of reason, I find it more disturbing the widepsread loss of hope that I see and hear everyday. Our government wants to make laws which curb the social effects of drugs, of sexual promiscuity and social disorder. The people don't have a sense of a better world, they take life as it is and just accept it. People feel they cant get rid of drugs or anything else for that matter and say 'Oh well, let's make drug taking safer'. Laws like this and I would include abortion in this are effectively taking the head off from the weed, but they leave the root of the weed in the soil. The pope's encyclical is again prophetic and timely. Yet how many priests will tell their faithful to consider reading it or making it more accessible to them through preaching and catechesis?

We need to respond to this by prayer, but also by walking before we can run. We need to build a church which is solid and firm - at the moment I don't see that in this country. I see a church in civil war and that is what is hurting people and discouraging the faithful who don't know why their faith is being compromised in such a fashion. Some priests are turning to hugging tree's and others are turning to wearing cassoks. Is either right? No.

We need witnesses to the Gospel. Priests who actually like being priests and who arn't in it for the dressing up factor, but for the simple fact that they want to communicate the riches of the true faith to the people. St. Jean Marie Vianney was on such man in his time. Edith Stien in hers. Mother Theresa in the generation before mines. John Paul II in my own time. Who is that now?