A wake-up call to evangelize
As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have much to think and pray about. There has been a lot of talk about the long-term effects of this crisis on our economy, society, and the Church. From a spiritual perspective, the experience of going several months without the ability to attend Mass was something many of us could not have imagined in our lifetime! What will be the impact on Catholics worldwide? For some, they may not come back. On the other hand, this experience could cause faithful Catholics to realize the gift that the Mass and Eucharist are, and be a wake-up call and catalyst to set us on fire to evangelize others.
Several years ago a Pew Research Survey reported that for every new Catholic who entered the Church, we lose six. This is a startling statistic, but let us start with the positive… those entering the Church. I believe it is safe to say that converts to the Faith are often the most on-fire Catholics in the Church. They are typically entering the Church because they are attracted to it, at least enough to know it is the true Faith and comes at a cost – such as having to change their lives and make sacrifices, such as upsetting family members. Yet the fact that they are willing to pay a price is evidence that they appreciate the Church.
I have often said that when it comes to evangelization, one on-fire Catholic is worth many lukewarm Catholics. How many nominal Catholics convince others to convert to Catholicism, if any? On the other hand, many converts who are on fire for Christ are willing to share their Faith with others and thus draw others into the Church. If each new Catholic converted six – our numbers would be the same, but how much more alive the Church would be!
Now in terms of those leaving the Church, we have to conclude that they did not understand what it meant to be Catholic. The same Pew Research Survey mentioned above stated that 13 percent of all Americans describe themselves as “former Catholics,” and that 23 percent of the total population are unaffiliated, or the so-called “nones.” These former Catholics and “nones” are unlikely to step into a Catholic Church unless we give them good reason. If our faith has no meaning, no substance, no hope, no love…why would anyone want to become Catholic? But if we as Catholics are markedly different from our secular counterparts, then we can truly be beacons, ambassadors for Christ and His Church.
As our society comes out of the pandemic, I think we have an opportunity. People do not want to be bound by the fear so prevalent today. Instead, they want to experience love and hope, which we have in the Church. And as I have said on many occasions, Legatus members have more potential than most to share our Faith because we are more visible, influential, and credible.
TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.