“As Christian culture collapses and we again face a situation that has more in common with the early Church than anything we’ve known in our lifetime, the words of the early Church become more and more meaningful and applicable.” These are the words of author Ralph Martin. They appear later in the book but I feel adequately describe the situation our society is faced with. Dr. Martin uses his latest book The Urgency of the New Evangelization: Answering the Call to tell us why and how we can address this dilemma.
If you are uncertain what the buzz word “new evangelization” is all about, Ralph lays details out on the beginning of the book. Point #1 is the “new” isn’t so “new”. The roots were started in Vatican II but took some time to grow. Thankfully through the promotion of popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Francis we have a sense what is required of all of us. The number Ralph quotes are sobering. Between the years 2000 and 2010: infant baptisms down 42.4%, adult baptisms down 51.2%, full communion with the Church has decreased 43.6%, parishes have decreased 12.8%. These are just a few of the frankly shocking numbers that relay that…indeed the situation is urgent.
So why bother? Ralph moves forward in the book to answer this question. “Because the eternal destinies – heaven or hell – of many millions of our fellow Catholics, not to mention, many millions of countless others, are hanging in the balance.” That message can’t be any more clearly stated than that. Ralph points put throughout the book that your family, friends, co-workers need every one of us to stand as witnesses and examples against the secular distortion of the world we live in today. No small task, but one as stated earlier, that our Church has seen the need for since perhaps the early days of Christianity.
One of the key points made in the book is that this task is not just left for our parish priests, bishops and pope to handle. This is a task we, the laity must attend to. Certainly our Church leaders play a role but the most effective way to address the problem and spread the word and example needed is by us. We the laity “in the trenches” on a daily basis must use own lives as an example to the secular world around us if effective change is to occur.
Indeed the numbers are sobering and the task is great. However, if we do not answer the call our friends, family and co-workers are in grave danger. As Ralph states in the book: “Not to tell people the truth about what they must do to be saved is to do them an almost unforgivable disservice.” Ralph Martin has given us an easily approachable book that will give the reader the tools and confidence to spread the truth. “We have been given the truly awesome privilege and responsibility of participating in the Lord’s ongoing mission to seek and to save those who are lost. What great joy there is in heaven when just one sinner repents!”
I received a copy of the book for this review from the publisher Our Sunday Visitor.