Saturday, January 3, 2009

But I sent you a rowboat!

We've all heard the musty old parable about the man who was stuck on his rooftop in a flood and kept praying to God for rescue. In succession he rejected help from people in a helicopter, a speedboat and a rowboat, explaining that God was going to rescue him. When he finally drowned and went to heaven, he reproached God for not doing anything to save him, but God replied that He had sent him a helicopter, a speedboat and a rowboat.

The modern Catholic Church seems to be like the man on the roof. We constantly bemoan our empty churches and whine about our fallen world, but we don't do anything with the instruments God gave us, apparently expecting Him to swoop down from the clouds and corral all the errant Catholics back into church and back on the right path. We have our minds, our mouths, our creativity, incredible tools of communication with newspapers, television, radio, the internet, etc., yet we do practically nothing. This came to mind after reading the religion section of the Staten Island Advance for the last 2 weeks.

Our local paper features 2 pages of religious news in its Saturday edition. It includes articles of interest as well as local announcements of individual church events. What a great tool our local churches have to publicize their activities and evangelize. However, in the 12/27 edition, not one single Catholic church on Staten Island had the initiative to submit a single announcement. Even if there weren't any spectacular events going on in our plethora of local Catholic churches, it shouldn't matter- the Protestant churches which monopolized the section had no compunctions about trumpeting such prosaic news as the topic of the next day's sermon. If I were an ordinary secular guy who was feeling an emptiness in my soul around Christmas, and I scanned that page, what would I think? First, my interest might be piqued by one of the sermon topics or events at these churches, thus leading me to attend. But secondly, I would come away with the impression that these churches want me and would welcome me. If I thought about the AWOL Catholic Church at all, I would come away with the impression that they do not want me and would not welcome me.

The next page was more of the same. It contained small ads for churches with pertinent information such as addresses and service times. Only one Catholic church saw fit to advertise there. All the rest were various Protestant churches (even the Episcopalians!). You'd think we lived in Alabama.

Why are we hiding our light under a bushel basket? Why are we so dense? Have we never heard of advertising? Have we never studied human psychology? Do we not want to tell people about our Faith? Do we want to die?

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