A few years ago Father Frank DeSiano, C.S.P. came to speak to our presbyterate concerning Evangelization. Father has spent most of his priesthood studying and teaching on the needs of evangelization. On of the more ominous factors that many of us took home was the make up of the Post Modern society we live in today. This is not just cafeteria catholics that we are dealing with, but a persona that views the world in its effects on the individual. Our society, and our parishioners today, do not involve themselves in a 'community' unless it have some meaning or purpose for them self.
We go to the meeting on the landfill because its down the road from my house, not because I am concerned about the environment. In a minor manor when doing sacraments the vast majority want a 'private' ceremony. They reject the group communions or baptisms. But it is also difficult to explain 'parish' or church to these same folks. It is like the difference between JC Penney and Bergners.
The challenge is to be able to articulate for people today the 'practical' aspects of the Paschal Mystery, and apply it to their lives. From this understanding to help these same persons recognize the value and importance of community. As Father pointed out, and as it has been suggested from time to time, perhaps even parishes will lose their traditional role in celebrating the sacraments. Parishes will need to become partly community centers, partly human resource centers, and lastly places of sacraments and preaching the Gospel.
While spirituality is important to many young people today, religion is not. This is partly because of our failure to catechize over these last twenty years or so, and partly in trying to maintain a status quo. Now some detractors will suggest that Vatican II is the root cause for all of our problems today. In reality Vatican II would have had to happen sometime. Were it not to have, we would be this very small and insignificant Church.
I continually remind my staff that the three big words we need to follow are: catechesis, evangelization, and stewardship. Our Church is slowly coming around in understanding this. We talk a lot about the St. Francis adage, "Go out and preach, using words only if necessary." But there is still a wide chasm between this saying and reality. Ministry needs to be more one on one. So much like the scriptures we have to leave our offices and preach and proclaim on the streets and in the neighborhoods.
Its all about Good News.