Dear Friends in Christ,
An important new book has just been published, and I commend it to you with highest praise. “Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World” was written by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, one of the most perceptive churchmen of our time, and this new book explores the challenges faced by those who seek to live according to the Gospel in the midst of a neo-pagan culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and His Church. Being evangelical Catholics requires us to remain faithful to the truth of divine revelation even in the face of ridicule and worse from those who believe that the Bible, the God of the Bible, and the religions of the Bible are the enemies of human freedom and flourishing, and such fidelity is all but impossible for those who have not thought through the many dimensions of living as resident aliens in this world. Lent is at hand. Take time in these 40 Days to read “Strangers in a Strange Land,” and your capacity to live the Catholic faith in a post-Christian world will be greatly enhanced.
Last September a group of people meeting here each Wednesday evening began a journey of discovery designed to help them decide whether or not to join the Catholic Church at Easter. At our parish and parishes all over the world, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults provides a period of prayer, study, and conversation for those who are not yet Catholics to be able to answer one question. Do I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God? Those who can answer that question in the affirmative and without mental reservation will be baptized or, if they have already been baptized, received into full communion with the Church by a profession of faith, and then all will be confirmed and receive Holy Communion for the first time at the Vigil of Easter. This Lent, then, is the final stage of that journey for the catechumens and candidates for full communion who for several months have been seeking to know the truth of Jesus Christ and understand the life of grace in His Church.
But those of us who are already Catholics also have an opportunity to follow the same path of discovery and decision. Do I really believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God? If not, am I willing to allow the Church to teach me as Christ commanded her to do? Am I prepared to change whatever in my life may contradict the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe? Am I ready to choose the obedience of faith to the Lord Jesus rather than the assertion of my own will as the authentic path of personal freedom? Only those who have considered the implications of these questions and have decided to say with their lips and their lives “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God” are truly Catholics in full communion with Christ and His Church, and that full communion is where we find the strength to live the Catholic faith as strangers in a strange land.