In The Rise of Evangelical Catholicism | First Things, George Weigel writes:
Throughout the Western world, the culture no longer carries the faith…Catholicism can no longer be absorbed by osmosis from the environment… So we can no longer sit back and assume that decent lives lived in conformity with the prevailing cultural norms will somehow convey the faith to our children and grandchildren and invite others to consider entering the Church.
A concise summary of our cultural reality–a setting that does not include a fruitful “cultural Catholicism.” What’s the implication? Weigel states that “in our new situation, Catholicism has to be proposed.”
And I think proposed at many stages along the road of discipleship and at many levels. There is the first and fundamental proposal of relationship and encounter with Jesus Christ. Then (in no particular order) the proposal of Christ’s Church in all of its fullness, the liturgical sacraments, personal calling and vocation, discernment of charisms, and more…
I’m encouraged by the fact that, at least anecdotally, I see more and more of these later proposals being offered in various formats and locations in the regular life of the Church (mostly lived out in parishes, for those of us here in the U.S.). However, I’m not so sure about the first and fundamental proposal–do we assume that kids in our parishes, adults in RCIA, active parish volunteers, or any registered parishioner has experienced this proposal and responded already by the time we encounter them? I think sometimes we do make this assumption. Part of Weigel’s thrust (I hope) and the New Evangelization is about making sure this proposal happens, again, and again…so that it is unavoidable for anyone encountering us as witnesses to the Catholic faith.