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Preaching the Gospel in the 21st Century

 
 

October 8, 2012

“Going therefore, teach you all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” – St. Matthew, Chap. 28, Verses 19-20.

This last command of Our Lord to the disciples before ascending into Heaven has resounded from the four corners of the earth for the last two thousand years. Every race and culture has heard the Gospel preached. Six of the continents have borne witness to untold conversions and numberless barbaric tribes have been civilized.

Our Lord’s command directly implies a simple but profound truth, i.e., to convert the world to the One True Faith – the Roman Catholic Faith. This truth is in no way acceptable to an obstinate, politically correct world in the 21st century. It seems as though the longer the Gospel has been preached, the more stubborn men have become.

When Christ sent the disciples out to preach, they went two by two into the four corners of the known world. They preached the Gospel by word of mouth for it would be in hearing the spoken Word that men would find salvation. And so the course was set – with the exception of the few who were inspired to write – the Gospel would go throughout the world by way of preaching.

The method of spreading the Gospel for many centuries was quite simple. The clergy preached it during Holy Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation. It was preached in churches and the open fields, especially in Europe, throughout the world. Priests in hiding would have preached it in the secrecy of the homes of courageous Catholics, who, if they were caught by the authorities would have faced imprisonment. The priests were put to death.

This is an interesting example for this writer. Everywhere I now travel in the West and Southwest, Mass is celebrated in a home of a faithful Catholic. The exception, of course, is Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Lubbock, TX. Although the parallels are not exact, for we don’t face imprisonment or death yet, the homes are certainly types of modern-day catacombs.

The local clergy would have fulfilled Our Lord’s command in the frigid missions of Alaska, Russia and Siberia, as well as the tropics of Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. It has been preached in hundreds of languages with the greatest simplicity or the eloquence of the educated intellectual. The lowly peasant of Europe, the savages of Africa, the Orientals of the Far East, the kings of Europe and the infidels (Moslems) of the Middle East have all heard the Gospel preached to them. This was indeed their “moment of salvation.” Some responded to the message of Christ and were converted and baptized, while others remained obstinate and refused the Grace of Salvation.

As time passed, the Gospels (sermons) in written form became more common. It was the Church’s way of reaching more souls beyond the local parish or mission. Undoubtedly, this must have been quite “modern” for its time. Consider the clergy of those times. All they had known up to that point was preaching the Gospels from their pulpits. It would have been quite parochial, and to us quite primitive. The fact is, those “times” weren’t that long ago.

After the printing press and typewriter, the next major invention the Church utilized would seem to be the radio. Imagine the first clergy to step behind the microphone. Like so many, they would have theoretically understood just how far the radio waves would have carried their message of the Gospels. In practice, (I am now able to understand this myself) only when you have people who are listening at a local distance, call into the program does it begin to dawn on you that, yes, indeed, my voice is being heard by those listening to this station at this time. One is now able to preach to any willing listener. This now has a new meaning to the person behind the “mike.”

One is reminded of the times gone by of the Catholic clergy who preached in the open square or field. They quickly realized their words were now being heard by a “mixed” crowd, not simply the Catholic sitting in the pew each Sunday morning. Those mixed crowds made it possible for numberless conversions – individuals who otherwise would not have “darkened the doorway” of the local Catholic church, found themselves willing to listen to the Catholic priest (many of whom were noted, saintly Franciscans or Dominicans) and as a result were converted to the True Faith or brought back into Holy Mother Church from their reprobate life.

Later on in the 20th century the invention of the television brought on another wave of technical advancement. Now the viewer could not only hear, but now see the one who is giving a sermon or lecture. Those old enough to remember Bishop Fulton Sheen on weekly television in the 1940’s and 50’s can attest to the effect of watching a clergyman defend the Catholic Faith while the viewer remains in their home. I don’t know if anyone was able to determine how many people converted to Catholicism as a result of his program, but it would not be surprising to learn there were many.

As a side note, I believe the Catholic clergy in the United States has, for the most part, been quite negligent in how they have not made use of the different forms of the media. The Faith could have been advanced immeasurably if only the bishops had been willing to initiate apostolates dedicated to the field of mass communications. Now this is the type of “modernism” which ought to be promoted instead of the heterodoxy which has overwhelmed the Church. Unfortunately, I believe their outlook was far too limited to understand the good which could have been accomplished, or else they simply allowed the heresy of Americanism (go along to get along) to dictate their decisions.

Moving forward since the 1980’s when computers first became available to the consumer, and in the 90’s when the internet came online, the world of communication changed in a way that had not been seen previously. Now it was possible to communicate with those in distant parts of the earth immediately. The different means by which this has been accomplished is nothing short of what would have been thought of thirty to forty years as science fiction. The rapid development of the technology has truly been quite amazing, especially for those old enough to remember rotary phones and black and white television.

The more important point in this review is what is now possible through the development of this technology. We are now able to broadcast a program such as The Catholic Faith Radio Program from a local radio station, make the proper connections to our website (www.catholichour.org) and the internet, and are now able to reach listeners around the world. The ability to do this has been with us for several years, so the news in itself is not startling.

The exciting aspect of this apostolate is the ability to reach souls anywhere in the world. Our efforts have already begun to bear fruit, hearing from people in New Zealand, England and India. I will tell you this gives an entirely different meaning to missionary work! But there is more.

The ability to broadcast Holy Mass live via the web is a more recent development, but one which is perhaps more exciting and certainly more important than the radio program. As we are all aware, there are numberless True Catholics who desire to attend only the Latin Tridentine Mass, but live in places where a priest is not able to go on a regular schedule. This broadcast each Sunday morning from Lubbock, TX has now made it possible for Catholics coast to coast (literally) to attend Mass. Some have told me how they get dressed in their Sunday clothes and use their missals to follow Mass. This obviously means they are able to hear a Sunday sermon, providing spiritual thoughts to grateful souls. A Spiritual Communion would seem to complete there “attendance” at Mass.

Frankly, this technology is a Godsend in an otherwise godless world. I have seen the effects of those who attend Mass once a month, or perhaps once a year. The hardship of such a situation is known only by those who live it. May God abundantly bless them for the sacrifice which they make!

More recently, we have been told that a small group of Chilean Catholics now “attend” Mass on Sunday mornings. I was left nearly speechless when this wonderful news was conveyed to me. We were told these souls do not have any priests available to say Mass. On one hand, imagine a country such as Chile with its Catholic history not having one priest available to offer the Holy Sacrifice; and on the other, the effect of the destructive work of the Modernists. Their only recourse is Bishop Luis Madrigal in Mexico and our Franciscan community in the United States. Is it any wonder why the devils seem to always torment us in one way or another, and would wish to destroy us?

God has made it possible to reach souls which a few short years ago was simply unthinkable. It is now up to us to do all which we can to reach these souls anywhere in the world. These are the tools of the 21st century with which to preach the Holy Gospels – and preach we must!

We can no longer think in terms of simply helping those who attend Mass in our local churches, but must use the technology to reach as many Catholics who are concerned with their salvation. It indeed is a new way of preaching the Gospel, reaching the four corners of the world by pressing a few buttons on your computer.

Please pray for the continued success of our work. We also ask for the special intercession of St. Clare of Assisi, Patronness of the Radio and Television.

May God bless you,
Fr. Joseph, OFM