Do you remember Mission Impossible from television some years ago? I used to like that action and intrigue show a lot. Times were certainly different back then. As I remember now, there was no gratuitous violence, no unnecessary sexuality, just good suspense and adventure. Did you like it?
One of the things that I feel or I see is what happens with people when a priest or this deacon starts preaching about the need for us to evangelize others. Catholics aren’t ‘disciples in mission’ for the most part — although being involved in New Media Evangelization paints a different picture than you see in the typical parish down the street. Many of us are on fire for our Faith.
Christ has given us instructions. He’s given us a mandate. We cannot continue to go to Church on Sundays and keep our faith personal to us — with perhaps a smattering of it in our homes.
Now — before getting into some words that talk about the scope of what we are challenged with — let me say that staying at home and doing a holy, awesome job in support of our spouse’s faith journey, and the faith journey of our children is definitely our biggest mandate. No wife, no husband is called to spend more time out of the house doing Christ’s work ignoring the precious souls that we live with.
That said, Henri J. M. Nouwen reminds us that there are more people on this planet outside of the Church than in it. Millions may have been baptized — but millions haven’t been. Millions participate in the Lord’s Supper — but millions don’t. And the saddest statistic that I hear mentioned is that the second largest denomination of Christians are former Catholics. We most all have members of that denomination in our families.
The failure of so many parishes and their leaders is they act as if the support and nurture of the attending members is what Church is all about. That’s only a part. We can serve all the spaghetti dinners in the world to our own Church members — but if we aren’t reaching out to the non-churched, then we aren’t responding to the mission that Christ calls us to.
I am in touch with and have twice interviewed Dr. Russ Rentler on our Catholic Vitamins podcast show. He is the strong ‘revert’ to Catholicism who is also a doctor, musician, teacher and medical missionary to Haiti. (You can find out much more about Russ and his lovely wife and nurse Deborah at their website: www.crossedthetiber.com
Recently, Dr. Russ recently emailed to ask me about my knowledge of two organizations involved in reaching out to non-Churched members: those who have fallen away from practice of the faith, and those who think they can’t or shouldn’t practice the Catholic Faith. One organization is called CATHOLICS COME HOME. The other is LANDINGS. I replied that I had some knowledge of and had supported Catholics Come Home. I’ve heard of Landings but didn’t have direct experience with them.
From their website (www.catholicscomehome.org) they welcome any who have for one reason or more or for no reason have stopped participating in their Catholic Faith. Their opening words speak to finding true peace, happiness and a regained sense of purpose in life.
Please consider those words as we enter into Thanksgiving and Advent. Have you as a practicing Catholic a sense of true peace, happiness and purpose in your life? If not — why not? You can’t give away that which you don’t have to others.
Landings International is a 20 some year old organization founded by the Paulist Priests. They provide a time-tested approach for helping active Catholics to welcome returning Catholics Home to the Faith. They have videos, testimonials, approaches for bringing Landings to your parish, etc.
You can find out more information about Landings by going to their website which is http://www.paulist.org/landings/
This fall and early winter — you and I will be exposed to many ideas and thoughts and Advent programs to be a part of. For the sake of those who aren’t happy with the Catholic Faith and who need someone to reach out to them, I can’t think of a ministry that you could pick that would most directly respond to the Mission that Christ gives to us. Maybe during Advent, you could pray about this, research the topic and then think about a personal response to Christ’s mission. Sure you’ll have to talk to your pastor. Maybe even call or write your bishop. Let them know that you feel called to respond to Christ The King and His wishes for the Church.
And by the way — it’s anything but Mission Impossible. May the Spirit be with you! Happy Thanksgiving.