If the Catholic Church were a business, its leadership would seek every possible means to reverse these untenable losses. And immediately.
The "new evangelization," beginning with our youth, seeks to reverse course.
The Church Compared to a Symphony Orchestra
The secret of Catholic Christianity lies not so much in the "the outer walls of the Catholic cathedral, with their cracks and crevices and their weather-beaten masonry" but in "the wondrous artistic beauty of the interior hidden from the outer structure" in the mystery of its internal life. (Karl Adam, The Spirit of Catholicism, 13).
The splendor of the Church's dogmas of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Mystical Body of Christ, the beauty of venerating Mary and the saints, and the beauty of the instructions of the Church Fathers on prayer, contemplation, mysticism and morality, on the Church's effective social teaching-all these expressions of Catholic Christianity can plant the seeds of faith as well as strengthen one's faith in their beauty.
At its best, Catholic Christianity is a splendid symphony orchestra, an inherently beautiful work of art to behold. The mission of the Church, like a symphony orchestra, is to attract the audience with its deep and expressive beauty. An orchestra without that uplifting spirit and joi de vivre is bound to disappoint its audience. Such an orchestra dies if it ceases to attract through its beauty. And what of the Church?
Can the Church die from within or be destroyed from without? Given the revolving door of converts coming in and cradle Catholics going out, can today's Church grow and speak as a beautifully persuasive voice?
Didn't Jesus assure Peter, the rock on which he built the Church, that the powers of death would not prevail against it (Mt 16:18)? Still, the human element, of itself, can become deformed and disfigured. Prayerlessness, the drive for power, worldliness and loss of fervor provide fertile ground for critics eager to brand the Church as corrupt.
We need more apostles like Mary Magdalene who first proclaimed the Lord's resurrection to the disciples. She ran to them in haste and was beside herself with joy to announce the good news.
This then is a Church that promises much and assures eternal happiness. The Church's vocation is to proclaim its beautiful truth and to do so beautifully.
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