In particular, the Bishops hope to recapture the imaginations and hearts of those who have traditionally been described as 'lapsed' Catholics.
According to Fr Christopher Jamieson, one of the keynote speakers in the campaign's launch, the new language of the 21st century Church in England and Wales describes lapsed Catholics as either 'non-Churchgoing Catholics' or, and this is a classic, 'resting' Catholics. And there we were thinking that 'resting' Catholics were all dead!
In fairness, the poster for the Resource Day held in York on Saturday for 'ministry and outreach' to non-Churchgoing (lapsed) Catholics' does at least mention the dreaded 'L word'. The same poster for the Resource Day in York admits that 'lapsed' is the category into which 2/3 of all Catholics in the United Kingdom fall. According to The Guardian that is about 5 million people. Just think. That is 5 million people who have not yet been introduced to 'Shine Jesus Shine'!
We shouldn't joke about it though, for, as all the Bishops will attest, Salvation is a very serious thing, the most necessary and serious thing and Souls are gravely at risk. You won't hear them say that, of course, but that is what they mean. So when our own Bishop Kieran Conry says, as he does in The Guardian report...
"We have something we're trying to market and we're just reminding people there's something that can bring you happiness, satisfaction and friendship."
...we know that His Lordship is saying that Our Blessed Lord's Heart is pierced through by love for Souls, for those who have forgotten Him and that it is only in His Heart and His Holy Church that Catholics, faithful or lapsed, shall find rest. We know that we can't really "talk about Salvation", but that is surely what His Lordship means.
|"We have something we're trying to market..."|
'As part of the legacy of the Papal Visit to the UK, representatives from across England and Wales gathered for a unique event to focus on outreach and ministry to non-churchgoing Catholics (March 2011).
Three bishops, representatives from 19 dioceses from a broad cross section of Catholic organisations were among the delegates who came together to pray, share experiences and good practice.'
'Good practice'? I haven't heard that phrase since I left temping work in the public sector. You can read the Bishops' recommendations here. Fr Christopher Jamieson's personal suggestions are particularly interesting. These include:
1. Invite them to house groups and prayer groups
2. Offer meditation and silence. Young people can be encouraged to do sponsored silences. Don’t underestimate the power of the simple.
3. Music – have concerts of sacred music in church buildings,
4. Make sanctuaries – consider in your town coming to an agreement with the other churches that one church will stay open 24 hrs for people to pray and sit; e.g. Night Church
Then invite them to Mass.
Your thoughts are welcome here. I know quite a few lapsed Catholics. I've asked whether they would like to come back to Church many times and perhaps one comes every now and then, but they don't come back. Most are lonely, depressed, alcoholic, living on benefits and suffer mental illness, in some way on the margins of society. I try to show them love and compassion, give them a Rosary or a religious item if I have one lying around. Each person has their own reasons why they don't come to Mass and I expect that those reasons are varied, not necessarily because their lives run totally contrary to Church teachings.
To me, it seems like going to Mass on Sunday is simply an Act of Love for God. First it is an obligation of course, but we can only really make the effort if we believe that the effort is worth it and that God is definitely worth it. I do think this new initiative is interesting, I just wish it had been placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham or even a patron like St George. Reading through the literature it seems slightly disconnected from the Catholicism of previous generations, in terms of the language and the spirit of it, but I could be reading more into it than is there.
Perhaps I should undertake a survey of my lapsed Catholic friends and ask 'What would bring you back to the Catholic Church?' First, I'll ask George and see what he says. Are the Bishops really asking people to go out in pairs and knock on people's doors, like the Apostles did and the Mormons do now? I don't want to sound negative since my own efforts to bring home Catholics to the True Fold are so paltry. Churches have community centres - you could have informal evenings there, but why do prayers in there when you can have Exposition in a Church before the Lord Himself or something really silent and prayerful like a Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form? Do I really have to invite everyone round to my studio flat for Heaven's sakes? Michael Voris has some interesting thoughts today which could just shed some light onto the reasons for the collapse of the Catholic Faith in the West.