As one of many objectives, the bishops wrote that they wish “To foster an even deeper sense of prayer among our Catholic people.” (GMD 97)
Prayer seems far removed from the “action” that comes to mind with evangelization. But I think that mature believers know that prayer is the heart that drives the human spirit, and the means of asking, requesting, begging God for grace for a fruitful enterprise.
The “Possible Strategies” are listed and I would strongly agree with every one of them:
- daily schedule of prayer for every Catholic;
- wider utilization of the Liturgy of the Hours and other common prayer among Catholics;
- prayer groups;
- retreat experiences;
- training in methods of meditation and contemplation; and
- publication of more accessible devotional reading.
It’s interesting that the Divine Office is listed not under liturgy (see GMD 94-96) but this is a minor quibble.
My other small quibble is with “prayer groups.” This is really more the small faith-sharing group or the base community of our Latin American sisters and brothers. This really deserves more attention, as it bridges the gap between the typically large American parish and the cultural individuality and privatization of religion in much of the West, especially the US.
The retreat experience–this is a difficult point. At the student center, I think we struggle with our aims and with how the “product” comes off to young adults. It is necessary to hook people with “fun” aspects? I wonder. As I look to my own studies in spirituality the next four summers, I will be attending to the retreat and what it might be. I certainly found great grace in my college experience and our connection to a Trappist monastery. While it is true that monastics aren’t what we would think of as on the front lines of evangelization, their stability and presence have a deep appeal. Even among non-believers. It touches on the 12-Step approach of “attraction, not promotion.” And that should be part of Catholicism’s evangelical appeal.
Devotional reading that’s “accessible”–this is not at all a problem with today’s internet. The challenge today is vetting the various sources.