THE MAIN ISSUE
PEOPLE ARE NOT ATTENDING MASS AS MUCH AS THEY USED TO. WHY?
Many people are Catholic as an ethnicity instead of a belief. In other words, they identify with the group because of their ancestry and not their own personal beliefs. Thus, they don't truly practice their faith.
Some people don't fully practice their Catholic faith because they don't see enough fruits coming out of the Church and they identify more with other Churches.
Some people feel that Catholics don't live the dynamic lives that Christians do and therefore they believe the Church is dead.
LET'S GO INTO SOME BACKGROUND...
Jesus' Commission and Establishment of the Early Church
It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent.
The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. "The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.
The 12 Apostles and their Significance in Early Life of the Church
The twelve apostles are Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.
They were all ordinary people and Jesus wanted to show that Catholicism appealed to everyone. The denition of apostle is one who is sent out.
The most influential apostles in the development of the early Catholic Church were Paul, Peter, and John.
Peter is called the rock of the Church because Christ chose him as his main apostle to assist him. Jesus wanted him to be the foundation of the church, and rock is a strong foundation for building houses and buildings upon.
Acts describes Peter's early leadership and ministry, such as his powerful speeches in Jerusalem (Acts 2-5), the healings of Aeneas and Tabitha (Acts 9), his mission to the Gentiles and return to Jerusalem (Acts 10-12), and his presiding at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).
Peter went on to become the 1st Pope. and many bishops after him were related to him.
Paul first preached in Damascus, Syria, traveled to Arabia, and then returned to Damascus where he stayed for three years (Galatians 1:17-18). Peter and Paul met in Antioch (Galatians 2:11). Peter then went to Rome, while Paul made three missionary journeys from Antioch, traveling as far as Dalmatia or "Illyricum" (Romans 15:19).
During Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 16:7-12), the Spirit of Jesus redirected Paul and Luke to Macedonia, a journey which was the first recorded introduction of Christianity into Europe!
The Acts of the Apostles concludes with Paul's fourth missionary journey to Malta and Rome as a prisoner in chains.
John was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He is considered the same person as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos and the Beloved Disciple.
John's older brother was St. James the Great, another one of the Twelve Apostles.
John is believed to be the longest living apostle and is believed to be the only Apostle to not die of a martyr's death.
John was one of the only two Apostles (the other being Peter) sent by Jesus to make preparations for the final Passover meal, the Last Supper.
Differentiation of Early Church with Church of Today
Archbishop Nienstedt explained that the source of the Church’s mission is the conviction that Christ is risen and fully alive and present to the community of believing Christians. He noted Jesus Christ’s words at the start of the Gospel of Mark: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The prelate then cited Jesus’ words in Matthew 28: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” He pointed to Christ’s words in John 20: “As the Father has sent me so I send you… Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.” Noting the root of the word “mission” means being “sent."
thesddsArchbishop Nienstedt said the Church is “sent into the world to continue the works of Jesus Christ.” He listed works such as preaching, teaching, healing, and acts of charity and justice. Christians, empowered by the Holy Spirit, must “make the name of Jesus known and loved,” the archbishop added, using a phrase of Archbishop emeritus Harry Flynn.
Background: Top: modern day Venetian Church, Bottom: the remnants of what is believed to be the Church that Saint Peter built.
What is the New Evangelization?
Today's approach of evangelization is called the New Evangelization because instead of converting people into Christianity, we are called to evangelize to people that were raised knowing Catholicism but have had a loss of motivation to go to mass and practice the faith.
The New Evangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel.
The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on 're-proposing' the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith
Pope Benedict XVI called for the re-proposing of the Gospel "to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization." The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.
It is believed that Blessed John Paul II first used the term in 1983 in an address to Latin American Bishops. He would later bring this term to the attention of the entire Church.
Perhaps, the most clear definition of the New Evangelization is in his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio. In section 33 of this encyclical, Blessed John Paul II describes three different situations for evangelization: "mission ad gentes, Christian communities, and the New Evangelization. The New Evangelization pertains to a very specific group of people: fallen-away Christians. For most Catholics in the western world, we see the need for this type of evangelization all around us. Everyone knows someone who was once baptized but who no longer practices the faith." Blessed John Paul II wanted the faithful to clearly recognize this problem and then try to solve it.
How is New Evangelization Methods different from those of the Early Church?
With the passing of each generation, the sensibility of the culture is less Christian. The feeling of being a distinct minority was very much the experience of early Christians. That’s a similarity with the early Church. However, new evangelization methods differ because we must convince those that were Catholics to come back.
But our situations are different in one key respect: today we in the West live in a post-Christian world, in an aggressive secular culture. This culture has known Christianity, and it is bitter toward Christianity; the culture is in revolt against what existed before. Ancient paganism did not have that kind of bitterness. It was curious about Christianity, even incredulous.