Matthew Kelly has gotten straight to the heart of the matter in his book Rediscover Catholicism: as a whole, the fire is missing from our parishes. Kelly tenaciously addresses the issue of Catholic evangelization. This key element directly affects the vitality, spirituality, and fate of the faith we love.
His words encourage us to take back our spiritual heritage, to live our faith richly.
His point that Protestants have taken sole claim to Christian evangelization is painfully true. His comment that the Mass can be seen as uninviting is important. As Kelly explains, the Holy Mass is not designed to be an outreach program. It is designed to be an intimate worship of our Holy God.
Protestants have mastered the art of outreach, and that is why ex-Catholics are flooding into Protestant churches. The Protestant community is meeting people where they are--by providing coffee bars, hosting seminars, and having live worship bands rock outdoor picnics. These events are appealing and in comparison make our beautiful Catholic parishes seem out of touch. Like Kelly, by no means do I believe this makes the Mass irrelevant. I simply think it means we need to take note of what brings people in, and then provide solutions to people's mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs outside the Mass.
The Christian trend away from the Mass is sad and ironic, because the Catholic Church is responsible for the evangelization of nearly the entire world and the spread of modern medicine, public education, the preservation of Holy Scripture, and the promotion of human rights.
But despite this spiritual legacy, Kelly's description of today's generation as disengaged and un-disciplined is dead on. Society at large is driven by consumption. We are asking all the wrong questions like: `What's in it for me?'
We are a generation that makes moral decisions on sound bite assumptions. As a whole we don't want to be bothered with books and study, rather we want someone to reduce `the facts' to a blog snippet or text. We avoid correction at all costs because admitting we have done something wrong is admitting we are not always right.
Today's generation has limitless resources. Yet in our pride we do what is convenient for us and forgo the wisdom of the scholars and Saints from the past 2,000 years.
Kelly is right - this way of living is not working for us. Elkhart County, for example, has one of the highest suicide rates in the state of Indiana. How can this be? Why are whole generations of people listless, feeling forgotten and worthless - living lives of `quiet desperation'? What we really need is a good grasp on our spiritual relevance. As individuals we need to reclaim our worth through God's grace - which, as Kelly states, is attained through the habit of daily prayer and the Sacraments of the Church.
Here is our golden opportunity. The question is: are we willing to take up that challenge? Or will we let it go by and say, "What can I do?"
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, just as your body cannot function if one part is not working correctly, neither can God's work on earth be done fully without you. I am impassioned by the idea that we are all uniquely gifted and can each make signature contributions to the work to be done. So let us raise up this Catholic Generation and purposely become, as Kelly says, more authentic and genuine version of ourselves through Christ. We must `let our life sing.' Surely, we will find no real meaning in our lives until we do.
I advocate for the dignity and value of human life through my personal vocation, and I encourage everyone to read this book. I argue that Kelly's leadership has initiated the `new evangelization' toward a greater spiritual relevance.
In the concluding rite of mass we say, `Ite missa est,' or `go, you are sent'; It is time for us as a laity to determine what we are being sent to do, and then, to go do it.