Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

3/17/2014 (1 month ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is time for the Saint Patrick's of our age to rise to the hour in this new missionary age.

We need to learn a lesson from this great missionary. He saw what was good in the culture and "baptized" what could be redeemed. He respected the civil order, but never compromised the faith. Then, he went for the next generation with all his efforts, preaching the Gospel without compromise and letting the Holy Spirit work. As a result, all of Ireland became Christian! From its beautiful shores western civilization, rooted in the Christian faith and the Catholic Church, advanced to change the world.

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/17/2014 (1 month ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: New Evangelization, St. Patrick, Missionaries, Green Beer, ireland, Culture, Druids, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - In Chicago, they dye the river green on St. Patrick's Day - as well as the beer.  On St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish. The celebration is an example of the presence of a Christian memory in the West. However, as we tumble toward the abyss in what many call a post-Christian culture, the real heritage of the Apostle to Ireland might be lost if we do not stop and examine his message and mission. I think I stand with the Apostle to Ireland in rejecting the term, "post-Christian". Instead, I choose to call ours a Pre-Christian Culture. Without apology, I proclaim that the greatest thing which could happen to Western culture is a rebirth of Christianity and Christian influence.

Keep the Saint in St. Patrick's Day! Shop these remarkable Catholic products.

Throughout the pontificate of the soon to be Blessed John Paul II he called for a "New Evangelization." Pope Benedict XVI has made this a central pillar of his pontificate. He erected a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization tasked with evangelizing countries where the Gospel was announced centuries ago, but where its presence in peoples' daily life seems to be all but lost. In a Motu Propio directive (which means issued on his own authority) Pope Benedict established this new dicastery (Vatican Office) and underscored the seriousness with which he views this mission of the New Evangelization.

Cultures formerly infused with a Christian culture are now regularly called post-Christian and understandably so. In April 2009 John Meachem, then of Newsweek magazine, wrote a widely circulated article entitled "The End of Christian America."  There is little doubt that Europe, the United States, Canada and Latin America are all "post Christian."  Yes, there are many good and genuine Christians living within these Nations. However, the scourge of legal abortion, the attacks on true marriage and the family and society founded upon it, and the intolerance against people of faith, speak of the decline of Christian influence in these Nations. However, as a proponent of the New Evangelization I propose we refer to them as "Pre-Christian."  As a Catholic, I also suggest Mr. Meachem has a surprise coming.

When the Venerable John Paul visited the Americas he wrote a letter entitled "To the Church in America" in which we find these words: "The New Evangelization calls for a clearly conceived, serious, and well organized effort to evangelize culture. The Son of God, by taking upon Himself our human nature, became incarnate within a particular people, even though His redemptive death brought redemption to all people, of every culture, race and condition. The gift of His Spirit and His love are meant for each and every people and culture, in order to bring them all into unity after the perfect unity existing in the Triune God." (Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, 70)

This call to a New Evangelization invites each of us to live our baptismal vocation, no matter what our state in life, completely given over to the work of the Lord. We do that when we choose to live at the heart of the Church for the sake of the world. Since the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church we have been constantly reminded that the Church is by nature missionary and that every baptized Christian participates in her missionary activity. The New Evangelization means taking this truth to heart and living differently. The New Evangelization requires an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can undertake such a new missionary outreach to the world. These two aspects of the one call are intricately connected. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical mission.

I believe that we are at the beginning of a great resurgence in the Catholic Church precisely for this mission. Just when her opponents are ready to count the Catholic Church out, the sleeping giant is rising. The Church is Christ's plan for the entire world. The early Fathers called her the "world reconciled." There is no "plan B" through which He will save this world. She is a universal sign, sacrament and seed of the kingdom of God. The early Christians would have never understood the notion in some contemporary Christian circles that anyone could follow Jesus and not "need" the Church.

Saint Cyprian (A.D. 258) wrote, "He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: `he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.' Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ." (On The Unity of the Catholic Church)

We are called to love the Church with the affection of sons and daughters; she is our "mother." We were reborn in the fount of Baptism as through a second womb. We live our Christian life now always as a part of the Church. To belong to the Head means to be a member of His Body. The Church is not some-thing, but Some-One, in whom we now live and breathe and have our being. As members of the Church we are passing through a time of purification and preparation. Hopefully, it is bringing us to our knees. It is only there we will find what we need. The Church has undergone similar .. purifications and reform many times over two thousand years. Her hull may be battered but she is still the Ark of Salvation.

Church history demonstrates that such seasons of purification are followed by times of great restoration and revival for the Church. So it will be in our day. This Church called Catholic is not a mere human institution. If it were, it would have shipwrecked long ago.The contemporary culture has lost its way, throwing off almost every remnant of Christian influence. It has embraced a new paganism. What Pope Benedict calls the "Dictatorship of Relativism" is the bad fruit of a rejection of truth. The West has embraced a practical atheism. It is Eden's error written large in an age which has rejected God and His plan. Like Cain, western culture wanders aimlessly in a land of Nod, East of Eden. America consistently polls as one of the most "religious" of the Nations of the West but has little evidence of the influence of religious faith in its daily life. Alasdair MacIntyre once exclaimed, "The creed of the English is that there is no God but it is wise to pray to him from time to time." This is the "creed" of the West. Religion is acceptable in America as long as it is kept "private."

However Christianity can never be kept "private."  It must be given away in love. The Church exists to evangelize. The Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is profoundly public. Only a holy, faith filled Catholic Church can bring the current culture of death, use and darkness to a conversion and transformation. This is the task of the "New Evangelization." Given the current state of moral decline we need to view the entirety of the American continent as missionary territory, ripe for the New Evangelization. We also need to view the once Christian Nations of the European continent as mission territory.  Most importantly, we need to view ourselves as missionaries in a new missionary age.

The Lord of the harvest is calling workers to the New Evangelization of His Church. Then, as loyal sons and daughters of that Church, He is calling us into the fields of contemporary culture which are ripe and ready for harvest. St. Patrick stands as a model of just how we must pursue this mission. Like so many, I paid my tribute to him this year with my article entitled "St. Patrick calls us to live in the Heart of the Church for the Sake of the World."

On the day after, when the world arises from the St Patrick's Day celebrations, after the Corned Beef and green beer, we need to learn from the Apostle to Ireland. When Patrick landed in Ireland in 432, tasked by the Holy Spirit with evangelizing a pagan people, he drew from a deep, living, dynamic faith. He understood well the challenge he faced. He had been held captive as a prisoner in that land. He knew the culture, the Druids who ruled it, and the realities he faced in a hostile culture. But, more importantly, he knew the Lord whom he served and he was unafraid. History records that Patrick had a missionary strategy, and it bore extraordinary fruit.

When he entered into a district, he would first preach the Gospel to the Chieftains and, following their custom, offer them a gift to honor them. Only a few were converted, but Patrick knew exactly what he was doing. He would ask for two favors, for a plot of land upon which to build a church and permission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ - as fully revealed in the Catholic Church - to the people. Both would be granted. Historic accounts revealed that he would then go to the sons and daughter of the rulers. He wrote in his Confession " Wherefore, then in Ireland, they who never had the knowledge of God, but until now only worshipped idols and abominations - now there has lately been prepared a people of the Lord, and they are called children of God. The sons and daughters of the Irish chieftains are seen to become monks and virgins of Christ."

We have a similar task in the West. We need to learn a lesson from this great missionary. He saw what was good in the culture and "baptized" what could be redeemed. He respected the civil order, but never compromised the faith. Then, he went for the next generation with all his efforts, preaching the Gospel without compromise and letting the Holy Spirit work. As a result, all of Ireland became Christian! From its beautiful shores western civilization, rooted in the Christian faith and the Catholic Church, advanced to change the whole world. The Gospel took root in the Celtic culture, transforming it from within as leaven in a loaf. Ireland came to be known as the "island of saints and scholars". Even now, in the midst of its travail and the purification underway in the Church in Patrick's homeland, it can - and it will - rise once again in Christ!

After the corned beef is digested and the green beer has left its after effects. it is time for the Saint Patrick's of our age to rise to the hour in this new missionary age. After all, the same God whom Patrick served is still at work, pouring out His Spirit and calling men and women to be fishers of men in this Third Christian Millennium.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More Christian Saints & Heroes

Duc in Altum: Men, Put Out Into the Deep on the Feast of St Joseph Watch

Image of

By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

This model of Christian manliness recommends himself to us not for any strange or exciting things he did (because he really didn't) but for the daily listening to and heeding the voice of Almighty God - in the home, in the synagogue and Temple, in the ... continue reading


Feast of Joseph, Husband of Mary: Time for Christian Men to Follow His Example Watch

Image of St. Joseph is our teacher and shows us the way to love and follow Jesus Christ. he shows us how to be faithful husbands, fathers and servants of the Lord. Joseph is a true 'man's man' calling all men to follow Jesus.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

He still gives His message and His mission to men who, like Joseph, cultivate ears to hear and then choose to exercise authentic manly virtue and act out of courage. He still invites men to turn the ordinary into extraordinary through cooperation and ... continue reading


Is St. Joseph worthy of commemoration?

Image of Saint Joseph's love for Jesus is worth of commemoration.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, which means this is the perfect time to check out our offerings of St. Joseph medals, prayer cards and the many other religious products we have at Catholic Shopping .com. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Catholic Shopping .com ... continue reading


After the Corned Beef: St. Patrick Challenges Modern Christians to be Missionaries

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We need to learn a lesson from this great missionary. He saw what was good in the culture and "baptized" what could be redeemed. He respected the civil order, but never compromised the faith. Then, he went for the next generation with all his efforts, preaching the ... continue reading


Who was the man named Saint Patrick?

Image of Saint Patrick not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, but it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites.

By Catholic Online

Saint Patrick - remembered with parades, the wearing of green and feasts throughout the world wherever there are people of Irish descent, or wish to be -- was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to the country. ... continue reading


Bet you didn't know these 10 things about St. Patrick and Ireland!

Image of Saint Patrick in blue vestments.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The most kids know of St. Patrick 's Day is that you must wear green or you'll get a pinch from your friends. Adults see the day as an occasion to celebrate, sometimes with green beer and other assorted alcoholic beverages. However, few really know what they are ... continue reading


Thomas Aquinas: An Example for a New Generation of Apologists Watch

Image of If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross- St Thomas Aquinas

By Deacon Keith Fournier

St. Thomas Aquinas knew that all truth finds its source - and its fulfillment - in the One who is Truth Incarnate, Jesus the Christ. In this way, he was a pioneer of a New Evangelization during the second millennium and a model for our efforts to in the Third.He ... continue reading


Feast of the Deacon St Vincent Calls the Church and her Deacons to Heroic Virtue

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the center of its ... continue reading


Hallelujah! Pierre Favre recognized as a saint Watch

Image of Pierre Favre was the first Jesuit after Ignatius of Loyola. Icon of Pierre Favre by Fr. William McNichols

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has named his favorite Jesuit a saint, bypassing traditional rules for sainthood. On his birthday last Tuesday, Pope Francis recognized 16th century Jesuit Pierre Favre as a saint. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Saint Pierre Favre is a favorite of ... continue reading


A Letter From St Francis of Assisi to All the Faithful: We Must be Simple, Humble and Pure Watch

Image of St. Francis of Assisi

By St. Francis of Assisi

We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all ... continue reading


All Christian Saints & Heroes News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:1-10
1 Once, when Peter and John were going up to the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh, call on his name, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:13-35
13 Now that very same day, two of them were on their ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 23rd, 2014 Image

St. George
April 23: Pictures of St. George usually show him killing a dragon to ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter