GMD 46-52: Catholic Enthusiasm

In laying out their three goals (GMD 45-60), the US bishops spend the most ink on the first:

Goal I: To bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus, they freely share it with others. (GMD 46)

The next six sections elaborate a bit on this. Rather than just reprint the bishops’ text (which I encourage reader to do themselves) I’d like to touch on the arc they give and highlight the assessment from twenty years ago, and see how much things might have changed today.

The basic principle is that Catholics cannot evangelize others if they themselves are not well-formed in the faith (Cf. GMD 47). Another obstacle is the Catholic “shyness” about sharing faith (Cf. GMD 48). Maybe we are products of our culture: American religious pluralism or the renmants of immigrant reticence. I’m not completely convinced on that front. Through the 20th century, there have been many cultural images of Catholic things: Boys Town, the guitar-playing nun, the hip ghetto priest, and such. The adulation given Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, certainly. Those two are fine examples to emulate, even if they were not representative of ordinary lay people.

GMD 49 reminds us of the inspiration of the Word and the sacraments. A good start for Catholics enthusiasm, and likely our best possible beginning.

The bishops falter just a bit I think by listing heritage and the Catechism as sources of enthusiasm–at least for ordinary Catholics. But we will get a more in-depth look at their strategies for developing enthusiasm later in the document (GMD 89-103).

For now, any comments on enthusiasm? I suspect most of us would agree with the bishops that “the fire of faith burns cooler than it should” in Catholics as a whole. The main thing is how to light that fire.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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