Deacon Keith Fournier has high hopes for the upcoming years. Don't get me wrong, where God is, success will eventually be also. But as I look out across the landscape of the modern Catholic Church in those countries mentioned in his article, there are reasons things look bleak to people like John Meachem. It isn't as if some vast, anti-Christian conspiracy is afoot. Christians, Catholics in particular, are doing quite nicely when it comes to playing a part in the Faith's decline in the West. The reasons are legion, for they are many. But one needn't go beyond your typical survey or poll of Catholic Christians in America to see where the work needs to begin.
As a former Baptist, one thing that I learned was that evangelism and outreach take more than words. Evangelism takes more than just living a life for the Lord. It takes an entire focus, a way of being. It is the hub around which the ecclesiastical community revolves. It is reaching out, bringing them in, and then doing something with them once they get there. It is understanding that one's spiritual pilgrimage is just that, a pilgrimage. Not all new converts are on the same footing that your typical saint enjoys. Sometimes, especially in the rock'em, sock'em world of online Catholic apologetics, we forget that.
A Catholic spending five hours in Adoration of the Host might be what a life long, veteran Catholic Christian needs. But for a new Catholic, those sparks may not take. It may not click yet. Many are still in their infancy, taking milk and formula. Needing milk and formula. Of course there will be that time, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, that we need to move on to more solid foods. But there is still a legitimate time for the weaning off of the bottle.
My own experience as a Catholic convert is that there is no real stage in the Church's life for that experience. There certainly isn't in the minds of many lay apologists both on and off the Internet. Many Catholics I see comment on Catholic blogs almost snort with derision toward those who fail to achieve the spiritual perfection that they demand of others. Even if those in question are new converts, it makes no difference. It makes no difference that the teachings of Jesus can be hard, and at times folks need to be guided with love and understanding as they relearn how to see with they eyes of God.
These are things that are most important. We want a real, bona fide New Evangelism? Then we have to be serious about doing it. Not just saying it. We have to reach out, bring in, and then do something for folks once they are in, and stop with the excuse 'it's all up to you now.' And for heaven's sake stop acting as if perfection should happen before drying off the baptismal waters. The early Church was a community of mutual support. The Church needs to be the same, and have in place concrete ministries for those in various stages of their Faith pilgrimage, understanding that as strange as it may be, your average new convert is not ready to take their place as fourth member of the Holy Trinity.