Sacramentalised but not Evangelised.

Sacramentalised but not Evangelised.

09 January 2015


Sacramentalised but not Evangelised.

Continuing our series based on the remarkable and provoking book on the state of Western Catholicism "Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus" by Sherry Weddell, we take a closer look at the notion of "cultural Catholicism" and it's affect on our church.

In her book, Weddell, co-founder of the Catherine of Sienna Institute quotes Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles' remark that “Jesus Christ did not come to suffer and die so that he could make "cultural Catholics".[i] As uncomfortable as that may be, the truth of those words is hard to deny. Simply attending mass with reasonable regularity and generally adhering to the rules was not what Jesus had in mind when he commanded his disciples to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow him.(Luke 9:23)

The fact is, it has now become the norm, even "deeply Catholic", for us to refrain from discussing our relationship with God at all (other than in the confessional booth - and how many of us now do that?!)  The result? A prevailing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" culture where personal faith has become an uncomfortable and embarrassing topic of conversation, substituted instead for a vague and impersonal "catholic identity". Does that strike anyone else as a rather far cry from the lives of the first apostles who "dropped everything and followed him" (nothing accidental or unintentional there!) and the other great fathers of the faith?

If we are serious about inviting God to use our schools as "hot beds" for reviving the Catholic Church and raising up a generation of passionate disciples of Jesus, we need to get a clearer idea of what true discipleship looks like. For what is not believed and lived out cannot possibly be passed on.

Weddell writes of how "Disciples pray with passion. Disciples love the Church and serve her with energy and joy. Disciples give lavishly. Disciples hunger to learn more about their faith. Disciples fill every formation class in a parish or diocese. Disciples manifest charisms and discern vocations. They clamour to discern God's call because they long to live it. Disciples evangelise because they have really good news to share. Disciples share their faith with their children. Disciples care about the poor and issues of justice. Disciples take risks for the Kingdom of God." [ii]

Challenging words that both convict of how little we often settled for in our relationship with God and inspire hope of what could be.  However, having established what intentional discipleship looks like, the question that remains is how this beautiful ideology can become a daily reality in our own hearts and lives, staff teams and schools?

What do you think? Is "sacramentalised but not evangelised" a fair description of your Catholic School and parish today? What steps can be taken in your own parish and school to raise up intentional disciples? Please share your thoughts and ideas.


[i] Weddell, S (2012). Forming Intentional Disciples:The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus. Indiana,USA: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Divison. p49.

[ii] Weddell, S (2012). Forming Intentional Disciples:The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus. Indiana,USA: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Divison. p81


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