Stuck in our buildings, and in an era of Christian mediocrity, what shall we do? Believers are in need of the evangelical experience themselves. They are the first target:
549. In order to become a Church full of drive and evangelizing boldness, we have to be evangelized and faithful disciples once more.
I’m not sure most bishops and pastors take this seriously enough:
Conscious of our responsibility for the baptized who have left this grace of participation in the paschal mystery and incorporation into the Body of Christ under a layer of indifference and neglect, we must care for the treasure of the popular religiosity of our peoples so that the “precious pearl” that is Jesus Christ may shine ever more within it, and it may be newly evangelized in the faith of the Church and by its sacramental life.
Keeping up appearances is important. Otherwise, with an eighty-percent-plus defection rate, how else would we know that Christian faith is in crisis throughout the Catholic Church? Pope Benedict XVI had some of the problem assessed:
The faith must be strengthened, for it “has some serious challenges to address, because the harmonious development of society and the Catholic identity of these peoples are in jeopardy.”(Benedict XVI, Introductory Address 1)
Looking at the big picture and the signs we are shown:
We are not to take anything for granted or disregard anything. All of us who are baptized are called to “begin again from Christ,” to recognize and follow his Presence with the same reality and newness, the same power of feeling, persuasion, and hope produced by his encounter with the first disciples along the banks of the Jordan two thousand years ago, and with the “Juan Diegos” of the New World. Only thanks to such encounter and following, which becomes familiarity and community out of overflowing gratitude and joy, are we rescued from our solitary consciousness and do we set out to communicate to everyone true life, happiness and hope that we have been given to experienced and enjoy.
For deeper examination, check an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.