Wednesday, 07 March 2007 09:24
Written by Keith Strohm
In the comments of Fr. Newman's blog, Dionysus asks the following question about the Principles of Evangelical Catholicism:
You mention that these principles help guide your pastoral pratice. How would you say it leads you to do things differently than they are done in other parishes?
Fr Newman's response is enlightening, and I'd like to highlight it here:
The rubber meets the road at the preparation for and administration of the sacrametns, especially Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, and Marriage. We do not administer these sacraments to strangers, which means that those who ask for them must truly be active members of our parish and give evidence that they understand the moral duties imposed on those who receive these sacraments. There was a time in the Church's history when we could responsibly give these sacraments almost simply because they were requested, and this condition obtained because of the vigor of Catholic culture and Church life.
That is no longer the case, and so our sacramental practice must be adjusted to the new reality....something much close, I suspect, to the discipline of the Early Church.Failing to adjust our discipline of the sacraments in the face of a neo-pagan culture results in millions of what I called "baptized pagans", meaning those who have received the sacrament without receiving the Gospel. This is one of the reasons why 75 to 90% of the baptized in the First World no longer attend Mass, and this must stop if we are to bring about real conversion in those who are called by Christ in the sacraments to follow Him in the Way of the Cross. The sacraments work ex opere operato, yes, but they are not magic. Each sacrament is a mystery of faith, and absent real faith in those receive the sacraments, superstition is more often the result than authentic Christianity. Evangelical Catholicism is one response to the challenge posed by this trend in our time.
Here is an example of a priest who understands the pastoral role of governance and focuses on the creation, formation, andnurturing of intentional disciples as a pre-requisite for embracing the Church's mission to the world.