Although the Catholic Church is facing many challenges today, the faith will never die. Dr. Sri reminds us that as we continue to navigate an increasingly secular culture, we also approach new and exciting opportunities for apostolic mission. It’s clear that our approaches need to change in the home, in parishes, in seminaries, and in schools so that Christ can bring about a renewal and his Church and in our hearts.
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Christ promised he would be with us until the end of the age. No matter what crises we face, we trust not in ourselves, but in the power of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth.
It’s easy to get discouraged at the state of our parishes, schools, and seminaries today. The Catholic Church is clearly facing many challenges in today’s modern secular culture. It’s in these times of decline of the faith, that we must look at how the early apostles evangelized and how the early Church spread the Gospel. The twelve apostles were tasked with evangelizing the whole world, so how did they do it? Looking at Scripture, we can see that the first apostles put their trust in Jesus. As we approach a new apostolic age, we have to realize that our strength is in Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. Although the faith seems to be institutionally in crisis today, we must believe that the faith will still be passed on in powerful ways if we allow Christ to transform our hearts, minds, and souls. It’s time to change our approaches in our homes, in our parishes, in our seminaries, and in our schools. In this episode, I draw from the book From Christendom to Apostolic Mission: Pastoral Strategies for an Apostolic Age to help us navigate these challenging times in the faith.
In the early days of the Church, when the twelve apostles first began their mission, they were able to bring about thousands of conversions. Part of their success has to do with the fact that they are preaching to fellow Jews, who shared a vision of the world with them and had common starting points. Jews believed in God, in heaven and hell, in the reality of sin, in the 10 commandments, and so many other basic truths of the Catholic faith. We must not be afraid because the challenges we face today are opportunities for a new apostolic age in the Church.
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. – Acts 2:37-42
However Paul preached to a pagan and gentile world, and the gentiles did not share a common vision of the world with the Jews. Their world was shaped by Greek mythological culture, which made it harder to preach the Gospel because they had different starting points. Paul and the apostles of his time didn’t have a foundation they could start with when it came to evangelizing the gentiles. They didn’t share truths about God, humanity, virtues, morality with them.
Today, we are unfortunately no longer living in a world shaped by Chrsitianity, people no longer view the world through a lens shaped by Christ. We are no longer living in a world shaped by Chrsitianity because people no longer view the world through a lens shaped by Christ. Modern man does not know who God is, what it means to be human, and what true love is. We are in a deep intellectual crisis, and we need a renewal of our mind if we want to bring about change.
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect – Romans 12:1-2
There are big differences between the Catholic worldview and the secular worldview. For example, the secular world places a lot of emphasis on what we can see, but the most beautiful and powerful things in the universe are things we can’t see- the angels, the holy spirit, the grace of the sacraments, and the spiritual battles we face in our souls each day. These invisible things are way more important than anything we can see, hear and touch.
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Eli′sha prayed, and said, “O Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Eli′sha. – 2 Kings 6:15-17
- Visit Dr. Sri’s website at www.edwardsri.com and to book online events with Dr. Sri email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Find more of Dr. Sri’s episodes at ascensionpress.com/allthingscatholic
- From Christendom to Apostolic Mission: Pastoral Strategies for an Apostolic Age
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Meet Your Host: Dr. Edward Sri
Dr. Sri is a theologian and the author of several best-selling books. He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. A founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), Dr. Sri currently serves as its vice president of formation. He appears regularly on EWTN and resides in Colorado with his wife, Elizabeth, and their eight children.
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