Evangelization for the 21st century?

We are familiar with the story of St. Paul.  On the way to Damascus, Saul was struck by a lightening, and fell from his horse. There he heard a voice saying to him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  To whom he answered “Lord, who are you?”  “I am Jesus whom you persecute.”

Soon after, the former chief persecutor of Christians became the great apostle St. Paul.  From that day onwards, St. Paul dedicated his whole life to spread the Name of Jesus, and make it known and loved by all men, thus becoming a model and example for all men who dedicate themselves to the apostolate.

The zeal of St. Paul is a great source of inspiration, not only for the priests, but also for all Christians, who received the unmerited grace of the knowledge of the revealed Truth. The more we love the Truth of our religion, the more we want to share it with others, and do whatever possible to bring the light of the Gospel to those poor souls who are still hanging in the darkness and in the shadow of death.  Like St. Paul, we want to help the souls that God placed on our path to reach to the knowledge and love of the True God and of His True Church, out of which there is no salvation.

It has been the constant worry of the Church throughout the centuries to search for the lost sheep and bring them back to the flock, according to the word of the apostle St. James[1]: “My brethren, if any of you err from the truth, and one convert him: He must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.”  The Church had sent missionaries all over the world, and to some of the most remote and unhospitable regions to spread the Gospel.  Close to us, the shrine of the Canadian Martyrs from Midland is a good reminder of the sacrifice of these missionaries, who came across the ocean, to bring the light of faith to the Indians and paid the price by the shedding of their blood.

But now, what is happening with the concern for the evangelization of the poor souls who don’t belong to the True Church?  Could we say that the flame of the apostolate, and the desire to convert sinners is still burning in the heart of present-day Catholics?

We could find an answer to that question in an article, recently published in the excellent magazine, Catholic Family News[2].  By the way, we are grateful to the staff of CFN for the publication of a series of articles on education, written by Fr. David Sherry, Principal of our school, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy, New Hamburg.

But the article that focus our attention today was written by Matt Gaspers, Managing Editor of CFN.  It reports a talk between Bishop Robert Barron, a Catholic bishop and Ben Shapiro, a Jew, the two of them debating on the matter of salvation.

Who is Bishop Barron? Likely, that name may not be familiar to the faithful of the SSPX, but Bishop Barron is one of the most mediatised members of the Novus Ordo establishment.  Besides being Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Bishop Barron is the founder of the online evangelization outlet World on Fire and one of the world's most followed Catholics on social media.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s, Bishop Fulton Sheen was a pioneer of the apostolate on radio and Television.  Now, Bishop Barron claims to follow the lead of the late Bishop Sheen for the 21st century. However, there is a huge gap between these two men. 

Bishop Sheen was a man of profound faith, deeply attached to the Tradition of the Church.  Acting as national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Bishop Sheen was using the talents that God gave him for the spreading of the true religion, and he was not afraid to speak out and to denounce the enemies of the reign of Christ the King.

As related in the said article from CFN, the theme of the conversation between Bishop Barron and Ben Shapiro was clearly stated at the outset of the interview “What’s the Catholic view on who gets into heaven and who doesn’t?”, thus giving a golden opportunity to a Catholic Bishop to expose the Catholic teaching on salvation before the TV cameras. Alas, Bishop Barron failed to give the right answer, not telling his interviewer that he had to convert to Christ in order to be saved!  When we think about, this is criminal, because thousand of people who were watching the TV interview, and may be prevented to convert to the true faith.

Men like Bishop Barron are the by-product of the new religion of the conscience, expressed in Vatican II Declaration on Religious Liberty. They think that, as long as you are following your conscience, you will be saved, no matter what is your religion.  They forget that, because of sin, men’s conscience can be easily twisted, thus leading them to error in religious matters.

Now, what is the lesson for us?  Bishop Barron and his friends of the so-called religion of the conscience could not find followers if Catholics knew their faith.  We have now plenty of good books available that teach the True Faith.  Make good use of them!

Father Dominique Boulet

[1] James V, 19-20

[2] Catholic Family News magazine, PO Box 694, Niagara Falls, ON, L2E 6V5  www.catholicfamilynews.org