Keeping Faith Real: How Catholics Don’t and Why It’s Killing Us

girl-candle-real-faithCatholic religious education is failing.

Catholic children are instructed in the Faith, yet the Church is hemorrhaging members.

Most of them are going to evangelical protestant churches. They’re not leaving Christianity, just the Catholic Church. Why?

I’ve found one clue in Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book, “The ‘One Thing’ Is Three.

One concept with powerful implications. It’s called the enrichment of faith.

It was the key to John Paul II’s pastoral strategy. It could be the key to making a new evangelization actually happen. Here’s what keeping faith real is all about.
[Read more…] A Digital Areopagus for Atheist/Catholic Dialogue


I’m excited to tell you about a new site launched today by my friend Brandon Vogt.

It’s called

I think it will be a great resource for catechists and catechetical leaders dealing with people influenced by New Atheist authors like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.
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3 Things the Popularity of Pope Francis Can Teach You About Evangelization

So, is it just me, or has Pope Francis wowed the world?

Three weeks ago almost no one knew is name.

Now he’s endeared himself to millions…including me.

So, all the media attention got me wondering, is there something we can learn here? What can the media fascination with Pope Francis teach us?

Here are the three lessons on evangelization gleaned from the most commented on qualities of Pope Francis.
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What’s in a Name? Francis Stands for Evangelist

pope-francis-evangelistI just want to say I’m thrilled with our new Pope Francis!

I mentioned that the last time I watched a papal election, it was with my pastor on a TV outside my office.

This time I shared the election with 1,900 eager, anxious Catholics on Twitter. It’s a whole new world!

When the moment came, my Twitter feed exploded with “WHITE SMOKE!!!!!” It was very exciting!

There’s so much to say about our new Pope but what I’m most struck with at the moment is his name–Francis.

In the history of the Church, the name Francis is synonymous with evangelization. I believe the Pope’s choice of this name signals his commitment to the New Evangelization. Although, I think it might turn out a bit different than the way it began.
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Is There a Difference Between the Protestant and Catholic Gospels?

Here are two amazing videos presenting the Gospel message.

The first one, “Falling Plates,” is from Campus Crusade for Christ…now known as Cru in the U.S.

The second one, “Life in 6 Words,” is also Protestant. It’s from an organization called Dare2Share Ministries.

I think these are excellent presentations of the Gospel. They’re creative, engaging, and hit all the right points. However, there are some differences that Catholics need to be aware of when using Protestant materials presenting salvation.

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Marcellino D’Ambrosio: What’s New About the New Evangelization?

There’s been a lot written about the New Evangelization in the last year or so.

I’ve even written some of it.

But I just read an article by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio that takes a different perspective and really makes it understandable.

He looks at what’s new from the viewpoint of what’s old. The contrast between the way the Church thought about evangelization in the 50’s and 60’s with how we’re looking at it today is enlightening.

For instance, I didn’t know about this surprising difference in terminology:

“The first Vatican Council in 1870 used the term “gospel” only once and never used the verb “evangelize” or noun “evangelization.” The documents of Vatican II, by contrast, use gospel 157 times, “evan­gelize” 18 times, and “evangelization” 31 times!”

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How to Teach What Your Students Need to Hear

evangelization-listeningThink about how Jesus dealt with people.

He took the time to listen to them.

He asked them what they desired.

He spoke to their hearts and changed their lives.

Evangelization depends on you knowing what makes your students tick.

You can’t have the same insight into their lives as God, but you can listen to them. When you understand what’s going on inside, you can tailor your catechesis to meet their needs.

Here’s a story where listening made all the difference.
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Scott Hahn: Evangelization is Like a Courtship [Video]

This video by Dr. Scott Hahn is fantastic because it talks about the stages of evangelization.

Real evangelization is not a one-shot deal. It’s a gradual process of revealing, in successive stages, the beauty and wonder of the Catholic Faith as the person is able to receive it.

You have to first build trust, share a little of yourself in relationship, and then as they become more open, you slowly reveal more of God and the Church as they become ready for it. As trust in the Church builds, you can teach the more difficult issues without rejection.

That’s why I’m not a big fan of door-to-door evangelization. It’s too much too soon. It’s like going up to someone in a bar and asking them to marry you. What would happen? You’d get rejected.

You need to get to know the person first, figure out who they are, if you fit together, then enter a deeper, more exclusive relationship, then a formal engagement where you declare your intention to be united for life, and finally a marriage where you make the commitment. Then, of course, comes the lifetime of learning to live with each other.

The Church’s official stages of evangelization fit this model. First there’s pre-evangelization, then initial proclamation, initiation, post-baptismal catechesis, and continuing catechesis.

Following these stages respects who we are as human persons. That’s just the way people work. But it’s also divine. It’s the same way God has revealed himself to mankind of the course of human history and drawn us into covenantal relationship with him.

VCAT: Is the New Evangelization Just About New Media?

There’s lot of speculation about the role new media will play in the New Evangelization.

Some think it’s the key to making the New Evangelization new. New initiatives in media like the VCAT video above certainly are compelling and really make an impact.

Others see it playing a smaller role and feel the traditional forms of evangelization will be more crucial.

So, is new media the whole of the New Evangelization? Or, does it need something more?
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Evangelization, Transportation, and the Power of Story

evangelization story persuation

Stories can transport people from inspiration to fascination to engagement and belief.

Do you like being told what to do?

Probably not right? We aren’t always open to different points of view.

However, we’ll often respond to the moral of a story.

For example, have you ever tried to persuade someone with a story about “someone you know”?

Evangelization is often about trying to do just that–convince someone to see things from a different point of view. To change their perspective from the worldly to the Godly.

How do you do that effectively without turning them off? Tell them a story.
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