The note of “catholicity” is that which assures to the true Church a broad diffusion throughout the whole world. That the Catholic Church is historically the only Christian body to possesses this mark is proof of the veracity of her claims.
Yet of the many promises Our Redeemer made to His Church, there is not one that tells us she can never disappear, or nearly disappear, from a particular geographical area. To illustrate: the first four ecumenical councils took place in Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. They are to ecclesiastical tradition, according to Saint Gregory the Great, what the Four Gospels are to Holy Scripture. Yet, Nicaea is now the Turkish town of İznik; Constantinople is now the Turkish city of Istanbul, as the song so helpfully tells us; Ephesus — one of the seven churches of Asia to which Saint John addressed his Apocalypse — is now a glorious set of ruins near the Turkish city of Selçuk; and Chalcedon is now Kadıköy, a mere district on the Asian side of the sprawled out city of Istanbul. All are found, as if it needs saying, in an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.
The Catholic Church is currently growing in Africa and Asia, two continents where the population on the whole is growing. She is on the wane in Western Europe and the Americas. Here in the United States, she is shrinking; “ex-Catholics,” if that tragic epithet named a sect, would make up the largest one in the country. In short, the Catholic Church in America is near moribund. She is growing in a few places (like Tyler, Texas, for instance, which is building new parishes), but traditional Catholic bastions are selling off Church real-estate, and her financial capital is slowly withering much as her moral capital has been squandered for many decades now.
A bright spot amid all this grim business is that where tradition thrives, there is growth — even dramatic growth. That’s good. By and large, those are the Catholics who actually reproduce, aren’t they?
The command that Our Lord gave the Church was to teach and baptize all nations. In spite of glaring and glorious exceptions, that project in this nation, since it has been a nation, was early on compromised by the heresy of Americanism, which itself contained a strong element of indifferentism. Today, there does not seem to be anything like a serious program of evangelism in the Church in America, at least not at any official level. Indifferentism is the heresy of the day, or, at least, it is part of that toxic soup of heresies served up as the hérésie du jour, the thing that is poisoning the life of the Church in our day.
If American Catholics don’t think the Church is necessary for salvation, then not evangelizing our neighbors makes perfect sense; there is at least a congruity between our heresy and our collective moral sloth.
Yet, if we do not evangelize, we will die, and deservedly so. An Islamic takeover such as the one that took hundreds of years to happen first in Anatolia and then in the rest of Byzantium is not likely here, but a secularist takeover is currently happening — and will become more complete, unless we combat it actively.
I know that there are clergy who will read these lines; if I might therefore use this space as a “bully pulpit” for a bit (pardon the role reversal [Most] Reverend Sirs!), I would like to encourage them to evangelize. They might even take to the streets at times as Father Lawrence Carney does, or as Father Leonard Feeney did. Our community takes to the streets on a regular basis, and yes, we get some good results.
In Suicidal Ideation in Church and State, while considering how to avoid shutting down parishes, I offered some suggestions on how the bishops might reverse the Church’s steady atrophy. They are, I think, worth repeating here:
What would a real remedy look like? Here is a missionary solution: Send priests, upper-class seminarians, and religious out into the streets to invite people — Catholics and non-Catholics — to come to Church, getting the Roman collar, the cassock, and the religious habit in plain view and making your new diocesan missionaries vulnerable to a hostile or indifferent populace. They will be targets, but that’s OK, so were the Apostles. Once they have people’s attention, they must invite them, challenge them, engage them, hear their grievances compassionately, and answer their questions with thoroughly orthodox and uncompromising replies. Put on special classes and some cultural events for the people you have so invited. Make them feel welcome, not by some big PR splurge that you’ve paid too much for on TV and radio, but by having genuine human interaction that has as its sole purpose the glory of God and the salvation of souls. In short, save the parish; don’t shut it down, and save souls in the process: a net gain for the Church.
It is probable that there are some shakers and movers in the parish, capable and energetic layfolk who want to do something good for the Church. Instead of clericalizing these zealous individuals by making them eucharistic ministers, lectors, “song leaders,” and other unnecessary add-ons to the clerics and male acolytes in the sanctuary, have them help with these truly missionary efforts. They could actually be working to save souls.
Note that the proposed solution is missionary. In other words, it involves the Church doing something integral to the divine constitution of the Church and therefore traditional. Traditional remedies are the best!
While the clergy should evangelize, as I wrote above, the laity should not depend on them to lead the effort. The lay faithful share in the Church’s general obligation and hence have a right to evangelize. Further, as the code goes on to say, “This obligation is all the more insistent in circumstances in which only through them are people able to hear the Gospel and to know Christ” (see my Motives and Methods for Lay Apostles for more on this).
Using the media as an evangelical tool can be effective, especially when that approach is combined with the “personal touch.” Such a combination may be found in the Veritas Radio Network’s Crusade Channel, now in its fifth year. Because Mike Church and other VRN personalities go to events that are simulcast by the network, they get to know their listeners and interact with them. It’s human scale networking that only uses “social networking” as a means, not an end.
Having been instrumental in thirty conversions to the True Faith (so far), and the return of numerous Catholics to a sacramental life, VRN is an evangelical tool. It’s also a community of good people working for good ends that are very much tied in with the Crusade of Saint Benedict Center.
I would like to give the rest of my space to Mike Church, whose inspiring writeup of the difficult and worthwhile first four years of the Veritas Radio Network’s Crusade Channel is worthy of my readers’ attention. Please consider this an invitation to join us.
It was four years ago today, that the CRUSADE Channel was launched, thanks to many of you, it has survived in a cutthroat marketplace where it seems everyone is a “broadcaster”. What started as a special event radio station, Founding Father Films Radio, was renamed and went 24/7/365. We missed all of 16 hours on-air during these four years, SIXTEEN HOURS!
We’ve broadcast the best LIVE! radio and events anywhere from 8 states, LA, FL, GA, VA, PA, MA, NH and NJ and two foreign countries England and France!
We’ve interviewed over 200 guests, seen Brother Andre Marie notch his 200th broadcast; the The Mike Church Show over 900 episodes; launched an original LIVE! News Service; written and produced four Feature Length original dramas including The Last Confession of Sherlock Holmes and set sail on the coolest radio product ever, the 5-Minute Mysteries series!
We’ve been blessed to meet hundreds of you in person and have seen the miraculous conversion/reversion of over thirty members to the Catholic Faith.
Our patroness, Our Lady of Walsingham and our patron Saints, Saint Joseph and Saint Pius X have interceded for us to avoid five financial crises and have been credited with three miracle babies [very ill children whose families requested prayers, and who were healed], Lilli Anne, Alexander and Isaac!
We’ve survived numerous defections of on and off-air talent and even more numerous members cancellations, yet the CRUSADER Nation continues to grow.
We could carry on and on about so many blessings we’ve received but are humbled and contented to trumpet those listed here, knowing that thousands of souls have been touched by the amazing community we’re blessed to call our on-air home, every day.
Thanks to all who have toiled, sweated, fretted, prayed, promoted and worked alongside us to make this possible. It is truly an amazing example of what can be accomplished through solidarity and constantly striving to promote and defend The Good, True and Beautiful.
If you’ve read this far and are not a listener, friend and CRUSADING member, don’t you wonder what you’re missing!? Find out by crusading on over to crusadechannel.com.
Thanks to our patron Saints, Patroness, The Holy Trinity and all of you for four wonderful years!
May God bless and Mary keep you,
The CRUSADE Channel