By Edward Pentin
ROME, NOV. 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Ever had that brilliant idea to help the Church’s mission of evangelization, but somehow never managed to see it through to fruition? Ever thought you could be a better witness to the Gospel as an individual rather than within a movement, but didn’t know quite how?
Then you would probably have appreciated a summit in Rome last week aimed at inspiring Christians to combine an entrepreneurial vision with individual apostolate.
Hosted by the Springtime of Faith Foundation, a U.S. organization, the annual two-day meeting focused on how Catholic individuals, lay or clergy, could more effectively participate in what John Paul II prophesized as a new springtime of evangelization, due to take place in the 21st century.
“We are entering an entrepreneurial evangelization age, a flowering of the individual apostolate to complement the wonderful group apostolates,” said Thomas V. Wykes Jr, founding president of the Springtime of Faith Foundation.
Wykes, whose foundation is soon to be headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, noted that since the Second Vatican Council there has been a clear call to the laity to boldly engage in the sanctification of man. That call has been taken up to great acclaim among the new movements.
But he is puzzled why not more individual Catholics have responded to this call. He said if you added all the movements together, they would still be less than 1% of all the Catholic laity in America. That leaves 15%-20% of Catholic laity who are 100% in agreement with Church’s teaching, amounting to ten million Catholics not involved in any movement. These individuals, he believes, hold great potential to further the Church’s mission, and his foundation aims at encouraging them to fulfil it.
So how should an individual Catholic begin? Wykes stressed the importance of making adjustments to one’s daily life. “There’s no constructive change in people’s lives unless they change something they do daily,” he said. New Year’s resolutions, he added, usually last about two weeks, but to make them stick, a daily habit, however small, has to be created.
Wykes spoke about the importance of leadership which, he stressed, is about doing things unconditionally and for no return; of starting your individual apostolate at home, with your family or within your marriage; seeking reconciliation and forgiveness with God and with others; and making time to work towards your goal of evangelization.
“Do something everyday,” he advised. “People say they have no time, but I say if you have time for the Internet, if you have time for television, then you have time for these other things.”
Wykes said each Catholic passes through one of three vocational calls: to be married, to be a priest or religious, or to be called to “single blessedness.” But quoting Blessed Mother Teresa, he said each person then has a “call within a call.”
“Catholics tend to enter one of those three vocational doors, close it and the funeral march begins,” said Wykes. “That’s the big difference between being good and being great […]
“The question isn’t whether you’re doing your little bit for the world; the question is: Are you doing the thing God destined you to do when you were conceived? Are you doing the great thing that he had in mind for you with your individual talents, gifts and graces?”
Some Catholics, he said, “hunker down” in the face of the prevailing culture. “They pull the blanket over their heads and say: ‘I’ve got my little cocoon right here. I go to this Church, I get the Mass that I want, I get the sermon that I want, and I have my good, little books here,'” Wykes explained. “But in the books I read, I see that the Lord’s greatest condemnation was for the sins of omission, for the lazy and slothful servant, for those who had been given great gifts and not used them to engage the culture.”
To rise above mediocrity to fulfil a great individual apostolate, Wykes referred to an 18-step program devised by the foundation. It includes the ancient tried-and-tested method of Lectio Divina (daily readings of the Bible), finding sustenance in the sacraments, and spiritual direction.
All of which amount to the most important step of all: to know, love and serve God. “That’s the first button of the coat,” said Wykes. “If that’s buttoned first, the rest of them will be lined up right.”
More on the Springtime of Faith Foundation can be found here: www.springtimeoffaith.org
* * *
Formation for the Extraordinary Form
A lack of priests trained to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form was a common concern after the Pope issued “motu proprio” [on his own initiative] his apostolic letter “Summorum Pontificum” in 2007. The papal document aimed to make it easier to celebrate the old Mass, but a lack of qualified priests was sometimes used as a reason not to allow it to be celebrated in certain dioceses.
But thanks to the traditionalist Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and Una Voce USA, an international federation promoting the Tridentine Mass, it has co-produced a successful program to fill the gap. The FSSP priests have teamed up with the traditionalist group to help train other clergy on how to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form across the United States.
Since it began in 2007, 130 priests have been trained through the program, and a highly acclaimed CD has been produced in collaboration with EWTN to help them learn more about how to celebrate the old rite. FSSP priests are sent to any diocese where a “stable group” of faithful has requested Mass in the old rite. “The results have been amazing,” says Jason King, a director of Una Voce USA who thought up the idea of working with the FSSP on the project. “It’s been such a blessing to be involved in it and to help others have the ability to attend Mass in the extraordinary form whenever they like.”
King, who is also second vice president of the International Federation of Una Voce, was in Rome for the organization’s annual meeting. In a report on the second anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Una Voce noted that since September last year, there has been a “noticeable improvement” in awareness of the motu proprio in Poland, South Africa, and the United States. In the U.S., traditional Masses are now being celebrated in 151 of the nation’s 178 dioceses.
But it also reported that in most other places, the situation remains “unchanged” with resistance among some bishops to the old rite, and even threats against some priests who wish to celebrate it. In Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, England and Wales, there has been “some increase in Masses and locations”, but it added that this is “often due to the persistence of lay people and the courage of individual priests rather than the pastoral concern of their bishops.”
Michael Dunnigan, chairman of Una Voce USA, said the resistance isn’t always so obvious: Some bishops or chanceries, for example, are telling groups who request a Mass in the extraordinary form that they have to find a priest themselves to celebrate it. “I don’t think it’s right to put that burden on the laity,” he says. Help from the FSSP priests is reducing the number of these cases, says Dunnigan, but some chanceries are even opposed to them visiting their dioceses to train other priests.
One other weakness since the Holy Father released the motu proprio has been a lack of back-up from Rome. Summorum Pontificum stated that, should there be resistance to requests, appeals could be made, but the Ecclesia Dei Commission at the Vatican has not been offering much in the way of support, according to some who favour the old rite.
But overall, supporters of the old Mass are still delighted with the results of the motu proprio so far. Una Voce were particularly grateful that they could have a public, solemn High Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s basilica last wee
kend – only the second of the past 40 years (the first was celebrated last month by Archbishop Raymond Burke). Significantly, the Mass took place in the St. Pius X chapel, after being moved at the last minute from the nearby chapel of St. Joseph.
“The best part was the spontaneous singing that occurred, which filled the basilica with wonderful Latin hymns,” says King. “I wasn’t looking, but I heard later that so many people were stopping and looking in wonderment at the liturgy that was taking place.”
* * *
Edward Pentin is a freelance writer living in Rome. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.