Speaking to Catholic campus ministers on January 10, 2013 in Florida, Capuchin Archbishop Charles J. Chaput addresses the urgent need to give good, authentic formation to college students in the ways of God. As he says, the status quo is not good enough. Chessy programs are not satisfying.
The frequent question is how do we evangelize and give good formation to our college students today? I think we know what needs to be done. SO, let’s get to work; let’s teach, lead and pray. Campus ministry has an objective: seek the face of God; to enable one to hear the voice of God in the still small whisper. Of course, the issues of formation are not germane only to the college aged.
An excerpt: Campus ministry needs to lead young adults not just to good religious activities that keep them busy, but also to the beauty of interior silence that enables a person to hear the will of God and entrust his or her life to Jesus Christ.
Philadelphia archbishop and Capuchin friar Charles J. Chaput writes well about the sobering reality of evangelization in his weekly column for this week. (Get in the habit of reading the Archbishop’s weekly essay.) The content of His Excellency’s essay “The new communities and the ‘New Evangelization‘” has “three simple things today: first, I’ll share some observations on the general state of the Church; second, I’ll talk about the role of new communities and charisms like the Sodalitium in the new evangelization; and third, I’ll offer some thoughts to this group as a brother in consecrated life, based on my own experience as a Capuchin and a bishop. I have a fourth point to mention as well; but it’s really more of a story. I’ll come back to it at the end of my remarks.”
Among the remarks of the archbishop’s are those he talks about the new communities, sometimes called the ecclesial communities. Each group has it’s own gift to give to the life of the Church. Each community answers a need and helps a person to be faithful to the Gospel in a new, vital way: a manner of really living the Good News and recognizing the grace of God right now.
Real Christian discipleship rejects and resists the kind of radical personal license and acquisitiveness that animates a consumerist society. So when the Catholic Church teaches about the dignity of the unborn child, the purpose of human sexuality, economic and immigration justice, the rights of religious communities and believers, and the
nature of marriage and the family – she’s not just “unpopular.” She’s hated as the enemy of individual privacy and personal freedom. And that theme shapes the way the Church is treated in the mass media.
For Catholics in my country to recover their vocation as a Church, they need to be awakened; they need a reason to be zealous again about their faith. They need to hear the witness of people like yourselves who live the Catholic faith with confidence and joy. They need to see their Church growing and fruitful, and young again, instead of constantly retreating and in decline.
This is the value of the new ecclesial communities and movements. They’re alive in Jesus Christ, and their new life and energy spill out into the whole Church.
For those of us who follow/live within the ambit of an ecclesial community whose founder is dead, what we compromise on? What will sacrifice to fit into the culture at large? Will we lose touch with the reasons that was the impulse of the founding of our community? Answer: may be; but I hope not.
Read the essay –it won’t take you long.
Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.
The new evangelization needs substance: it needs catechesis of a certain depth that is able to say something serious to our lives, but also and above all it needs lives of substance that demonstrate through actions the solidity of the Christian. It is even more important today, now that families are disunited and often abdicate their educative role, that priests demonstrate to the young their faithfulness to a vocation and the possibility of choosing an alternative way of living, better than that proposed by society.
My concern however is that these figures of substance are becoming a minority. The priest has lost trust in the importance of his ministry, he has lost charisma and culture. I see priests who adapt to the dominant thought. The same is true of the liturgy, which in the attempt to become original becomes meaningless. Priests, I ask you to find the courage to be yourselves. Do not fear because where you are truly priests, there you propose the truth of the faith without fear, we the young will follow. Indeed, the words of Peter are also ours: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life”. And we are infinitely hungry for something eternal and true.
I therefore propose:
1) an increase in the formation of priests, not only in spiritual but also cultural terms. Too often I see priests who have lost their role as masters of culture which had made them important for the whole of society. Today if we want to be credible and useful, we must return to having good cultural tools;
2) the rediscovery of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its conciliar sense: in particular the first part of each session where the documents of the Council enlighten the traditional themes. The Catechism has, indeed, the wisdom of making the premise to the explanation of the Creed an inspired part of the Dei Verbum, in which the personalistic vision of revelation is explained, the Sacrosantum Concilium prior to the Sacraments, and the Lumen Gentium, which shows man created in God’s image, before the Commandments. The first part of each section of the catechism is fundamental to enable today’s man to feel faith as something that relates to him closely, and to be able to give an answer to his most profound questions;
3) Finally the liturgy: too often it is neglected and desacralized. It must be restored with dignity to the center of both the parochial and the territorial community.