Widespread secularization is seriously eroding faith in Christ. It has led to the emptying out of our pews, a denial of objective truth, broken hearts, broken families, and broken lives. If recent historical trends are left unchecked, the very existence of Christian faith in highly secular societies is in jeopardy. (Cf. Luke 18:8) At the same time that secularization has been growing, the Church has been focused inwardly on internal ecclesial issues rather than winning people for Christ.
The only hope of prevailing over atheistic secularism is to change the Church’s “culture of maintenance” to an outwardly-focused culture of missionary discipleship. It is the rare parish indeed that has been able to resist, let alone make headway against the winds of secularism. However, by virtue of their unique apostolic vocation, diocesan bishops can provide the leadership needed to unite, energize, and re-orient their parishes to the largely ignored mission of bringing the Gospel to our hurting, post-modern society.
If you’re reading this, it is likely that you already know Christ is the light of the world. We know God is the source of all our hope and love. There’s no question in our hearts and minds, and there is no question in the depths of our being. That’s because we’ve had profound personal encounters with Christ that have led us to this glorious understanding.
Unfortunately, too many have not – from lives broken and suffering due to poverty, pornography, divorce, abortion, and addiction – to Catholics who’ve been baptized, but haven’t truly experienced the intimate joy of God’s love.
Implicit in this situation is the need to proclaim the Gospel anew. Perhaps St. Paul said it best when he wrote: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But, how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom 10:13-14). A rudderless culture and rising social breakdown are symptoms of a deeper sickness – millions who haven’t had their own personal encounter with the joy and love of the Son of God.
This is why we are all called to evangelize and, in the words of St. John Paul II, to do it with “new ardor, new methods and new expressions”.