Church Life

The Cart Before the Horse

I have so much hope for the new evangelization and then reality hits me and I get all depressed and weepy. I travel to a lot of parishes (a lot for me, anyway. I'm no Jackie Angel.) and I talk about evangelization, mission and discipleship. I preach the basic Gospel message and break down how parish staffers, clergy and catechists can do this in their ministries and in one-on-one relationships. It feels like there is a shift towards being a mission-driven, discipleship-focused Church, like we should be.

Then I read a bunch of results from an Archdiocesan survey... Totally bummed again.

This survey was largely about Baptism and was meant to gauge parish practices and people's thoughts on the matter. When asked about Infant Baptism class and what their concerns were for the parents who attended, only one parish mentioned Jesus Christ. The rest mentioned that frustrating concept called Catholic Identity

When I say "the rest" I mean all other 49 parishes surveyed, as far as I could tell, said that they want parents to get a stronger Catholic identity from the Infant Baptism programs. I get bummed because this screams "STATUS QUO!" to me and I just cannot take it anymore.

Infant Baptism programs should be about the constant evangelization of the parents in the room, with some side theology of the Sacrament. Or, if you know your stuff, the reshaping of that great theology of the Sacrament of Baptism thoroughly with the kerygma. But in parish after parish you find people going to videos and PowerPoint presentations that are at best a catechesis on Baptism, but typically are just facts about Baptism. "Just the facts" may work for Dragnet, but it doesn't work at all for inspiring and converting the lukewarm, the lost, or the disenfranchised back home to the Catholic Church.

Putting the cart before the horse is expecting of our young adult attendees should have a strong Catholic Identity before they have a care in the world about Jesus Christ. Solve the apathy towards Jesus problem first and the rest will follow.