Sunday, March 03, 2013

Mass Chat: MPLS-StP Archdiocese Rediscover Catholicism - Evangelical Catholicism Program Initiative

Motivational speaker, Matthew Kelly - website.

Catholics are leaving the Church at an alarming rate, and disengagement levels among those who remain is staggeringly high.

Matthew Kelly is big in this Archdiocese.  For Lent his Advent talk - Become a Better Version of Yourself and his book Rediscover Catholicism were distributed to all parishioners of the archdiocese free of charge.  Currently underway is an Archdiocesan program - in the works for four years - by the same name, with speakers making presentations in select parishes.  I can't recall a program of this scope since Renew in the 1980's. 

It is part of the 'New' Evangelization John Paul II and Benedict XVI called for.  I imagine other dioceses around the country may adopt similar programs based upon Kelly's evangelism, if this works out well here.  Perhaps they have done so already, since Kelly is pretty hot on the lecture circuit.

Matthew Kelly began his apostolate after receiving locutions from God the Father, which may explain why I was never interested in what he had to say, especially since he was picked up by the Medjugorje affiliates as soon as the messages became public.  Now the locutions are part of his personal spiritual past and Kelly has a very good apostolate evangelizing 'cultural' Catholics.  The CD I listened to is good, but not special.  He is a good motivational speaker and speaks to families, fathers especially.  Or so it impressed me.  I've read sections of his book, and his writing is better than the recording.  I'm not motivated by it however. 

What will turn the tide for Catholicism?

In Sunday's paper*, there is an article about the Rediscover program as spearheaded by the Archdiocese, Fr. Laird, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, is one of the principals introducing the program at select, suburban and wealthy parishes in the area.

Evangelical Catholicism... seems kind of Stepford to me.  The Charismatic renewal was rather evangelical, wasn't it? Didn't that renewal renew Evangelicals?  Didn't many innovations to the Mass grow out of the Charismatic movement?  Gather Us In?  Gather round the altar, hold hands, raise hands, receive in the hands, lay homilists, EMHC's, evangelical style evangelization!  It seems so 'American' to me... as in 'Americanism'... you know, what Weigel refers to as 'that phantom heresy', which Rome once feared might infect the Catholic Church in the United States.  Although Weigel pretty much interprets that sort of Americanism as only being present in 'populst' Catholic figures such as Sebelius, Pelosi, Biden, and the Nuns on the Bus brand of Catholics.

Weigel states That Leo XIII "...was concerned that doctrine — what John Paul II a century later would call the Catholic “symphony of truth” — might be regarded in some quarters as an impediment to evangelization and witness. And he took aim at what he called the confusion of liberty with license, as if willfulness were at the center of human freedom.

He was, in other words, warning against confusions and distortions that are manifestly in play in certain Catholic quarters today, whether or not they were widespread in Catholic circles in late-19th-century America. - National Review
I think that has happened, hence there is no doubt the New Evangelization needs to correct these divisions and errors - but not at the expense of the devout life.  I know this is being taught, but I would so hate to see Catholics become a bunch of Bible bangers/haranguers at the expense of real Catholic identity... Tradition.

That said, the idea of evangelization door to door, on the street corners, and in the workplace is not a new one for Catholics.  Consider the Legion of Mary, founded in Ireland by Frank Duff:
The Legion of Mary was founded by Frank Duff on September 7, 1921 in Dublin. His idea was to help Catholic laypeople fulfill their baptismal promises and be able to live their dedication to the Church in an organised structure, supported by fraternity and prayer.

The legionaries first started out by visiting hospitals, but they were soon active among the most destitute, notably among Dublin prostitutes. Frank Duff subsequently laid down the system of the Legion in the Handbook of the Legion of Mary in 1928.

The Legion of Mary soon spread from Ireland to other countries and continents. At first, the Legion often met with mistrust due to its dedication to lay apostolate which was unusual for the time. Only after Pope Pius XI expressed praise for the Legion in 1931, could such mistrust be quelled.

Most prominent for spreading the Legion was the Irish legionary Venerable Edel Mary Quinn for her activities in Africa during the 1930s and 40s. Her dedication to the mission of the Legion even in the face of her ill health due to tuberculosis brought her great admiration in- and outside of the Legion. A canonization process is currently under way for Venerable Edel Quinn and a beatification process is currently underway for Frank Duff.

Membership in Ireland had been declining but due to efforts by the Concilium to attract younger people to its ranks through the Deus et Patria movement a substantial increase in membership has now occurred. - Source
Programs go stale without authentic devotion and prayer.  In addition to older apostolates such as the legion, another superb example of 'evangelical life' or living the 'New' evangelization is Opus Dei.  One doesn't need to be a member to live one's faith generously in the spirit of Opus Dei, which emphasizes the greatness of ordinary life.

Just thinking out loud here, BTW.

*Excerpts from Star Tribune feature article.
Evangelization, testifying, sharing faith stories and inviting people to check out their faith are unfamiliar acts to many Catholics. But they’re at the center of a new initiative by the Twin Cities archdiocese aimed at refreshing Catholics’ knowledge of church teachings and getting them to spread the word.

Considered one of the first-of-its-kind among U.S. dioceses, Rediscover calls on Catholics to share the gospel message and form a “personal relationship” with Jesus — echoing some of the core beliefs of Evangelicals.

It’s the latest example of American Catholic leaders’ growing alliance with conservative Protestants, religious scholars say.

Practices once exclusive to evangelical Protestants are finding a place in the plans of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

A number of Catholics who have left the church have joined evangelical denominations, many of which are growing financially as they add followers. - Strib

If the bishop says it's Catholic,
that's good enough for me,
I don't give a damn how much it costs.



  1. He's speaking at our parish later this month. I like his "Become a Better Version of Yourself" CD, and his book "Rediscover Catholicism" is pretty good as well. He has a good way of reaching people where they're at. He's not a nail spitter, but he's not wishy-washy either.

    I'd like to take my family for his one-day shindig, but it's more than I can justify to pay at this point in time.

  2. I've begun reading "The Soul of the Apostolate" by Jean-Baptiste Chautard. Its premise is that if your prayer life isn't good, all the activity (good works) are worthless. If you want to check it out, here's a pdf version or you can buy it at Amazon...

    Soul of the Apostolate

    I don't like to read any spiritual writing written after 1960... :-)

  3. Lynne - Excellent book.

  4. Larry - I think you are his audience. It's all good.

    1. It's all good.

      I think so. How long before he starts blogging at Patheos?


  5. I should have said, the Catholic family is his target audience.

  6. Umm, I read his book and it's really fluffy and very motivational speakery.

    I didn't get select, suburban wealthy parishes for the lectures, I noticed that they were all big parishes so suited for lectures to which all are invited.

  7. Anonymous7:45 AM

    "but not at the expense of the devout life."

    I agree with this, or at least, how I understand it.

    I think there is a major loss of the virtue of religion. There is a loss of seeking God, above all, and His will - of trying to live for Him.

    There is too much talk of 'happiness' and personal fulfillment - especially as a justification for religion or coming to God. I don't think that will ever stand up in the long run.

  8. Anonymous9:46 PM

    Chicks dig the accent. That's basically it.



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