Several Popes have now called for the New Evangelization because of what Pope Saint John Paul II called “invasive secularism” in the Church. The Church is being changed by the world rather than changing it. As a result, the Church and the world are not experiencing the human flourishing that following Jesus and the teachings of his Church lead to. And, the Church is failing in its mission to lead people to Christ…
The data is clear, self-identifying Catholics are no different than the ambient western culture in America. “Catholics” are sacramentalized, but not evangelized. They contracept, abort, cohabitate, and fornicate at the same levels as non-Catholics. They vote for pro-death politicians, support so-called same-sex marriage, euthanasia and other elements of the culture of death at the same rates as non-Catholics. There is no differentiation until the data is cut for those Catholics who attend Mass weekly. There is an even greater distinction when the data is surveyed for those Catholics who attend daily Mass, attend retreats, and otherwise show some evidence that they are intentional disciples of Christ.
Following the lead of the Popes, many in the Catholic world are calling for new Catholic subcultures, distinct communities that live and bear the fruits of the teachings of Christ. They argue that in contradistinction to the witness provided by the lives of self-identifying Catholics, that the witness, the human flourishing of distinctly Catholic communities will show the truth, the goodness, and the beauty of living life according to our nature given to us by God.
I argue that the Troops of Saint George could quite possibly be one of the most important distinctly Catholic communities or subcultures, one of the most vital efforts in service of the Church and the New Evangelization.
Steve Woods (Dads.org) recently wrote an article, Why the New Evangelization Needs a Focus on Fathers. In it, he writes:
“Key to the long-term success of an evangelistic effort that results in widespread cultural transformation is the targeting of specific “people-groups” (a term used in missions and in evangelistic planning) that are keys for the conversion of others. In other words, instead of trying to evangelize everyone, the focus is put upon those who in turn will be instrumental in the conversions and reversions of others. As far as I can tell, the key “people-group” for the New Evangelization of families has yet to be identified, namely fathers.”
Steve reports one remarkable finding from research conducted by Southern Baptists. If a child converts to Christianity, there is a 3.7% incidence that the rest of the family will convert. If the mother converts, the incidence rises to 17%. If dad converts, the chances the rest of the family will become Christian is 93%. Other data sets show that even if only the father, not the mother, practices the Catholic faith, children persist in the faith at rates close to 90%, compared to only 45% if only mom practices the faith.
The basic unity of society is the family. It is the domestic Church. It is the basic unit of the Church. The catechism even gives the same definition to the family as it does to the Trinity, a community of persons united in love. It is vitally important to the success of the Church and its mission that Dad be evangelized and sacramentalized. And that’s where the Troops of Saint George could be so important.
Men are under attack! The only place left to men in society is the place of Homer Simpson, and/or oddly enough… as Neanderthal, women-objectifying barbarians in Western Culture. Men are portrayed as either buffoons or abusers in the media, or some kind of metrosexual male. But, where is the Catholic gentleman?
Fathers need a group of men, brothers in Christ, who share their vocation to marriage, to fatherhood. They need a group of likeminded men, a brotherhood of men who take their vocations to marriage and to fatherhood seriously. They need a distinct community of men where Catholic masculinity can still be lived, and in which they can train sons to live lives of heroic virtue according to the vocations that God calls us to, by His grace. Nothing like this exists today!
If the members of the Troops of Saint George, fathers and sons, follow Christ as His intentional disciples, they will form a much needed, distinct community within the Church that focuses on men, fathers and their sons. But, the Troops of Saint George and its members must remain distinctly, faithfully, ardently Catholic! Only this witness will serve fathers, their sons, Catholic families, and the Church in the mission of the New Evangelization, and the mission of the Church to make disciples of all men.
Captain William Rowe, Troop 77