Connecting the Dots
“Connect-the-dots” is a tagline used to explain the joining of scripture based homilies to one or more Catholic Catechism elements in an environment which recognizes the unique beauty of Catholicism. The phrase is intended as a way (but certainly not the only way) to draw attention to fact that Catholicism is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself. One should understand two basic premises in order to accept the legitimacy of “connecting the dots”.
We believe that the lack of a Respect For Life is the principle factor undermining the moral fabric of our country and society in the early twenty-first century. The issue of Right to Life is the most basic Human Right. It is violated in several ways, including Abortion and Euthanasia. The assaults on the unborn are universally known; tens of millions babies have been aborted, killed, since 1973. A "culture of death" has overtaken our society. As Catholics, we have a moral responsibility to stand up against it; to defend Life. Our Catholic faith accepts and embraces this challenge.
Why? Simply because our religion provides the basis for our moral beliefs. The Fifth Commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Kill" was given to Moses by God Himself as described in the Old Testament. In the widely recognized verse "Before I formed you in the womb .... " (Jer1:5) God tells Jeremiah that he was set apart before he was born. Similar verses in Psalms, PS139:13-16 PS22:10-11, for example, acknowledge Life in the Womb; Life created by God. In the New Testament (Luke 31:-44), Elizabeth proclaims that "the baby leaped in my womb for joy" upon hearing Mary's voice.
Science attempts to answer the question: “When does life begin?” It is the current state of medical technology itself that limits its ability to precisely answer that question. For example, a generation ago, fetus viability outside the womb was at about 28 weeks; today it is around 24 weeks. Some scientific studies today place the answer to the question at 14 days, the time where twins are generally formed; where unique creatures are formed. One thing is for certain; science has, over the past century, moved the answer of when life begins closer to the moment of conception. No study has ever proven it does not begin then. This is why a faith-based position must be assumed.
For Catholics, The Catechism of the Catholic Church codifies scripture and Tradition (capital “T”) into a single reference manual for moral living. For example, Church teaching against Abortion is clearly stated in paragraphs 2270-2275, with scripture authority and Church Tradition clearly referenced. Likewise, paragraphs 2276-2279 address the issue of Euthanasia and the reason why it is morally unacceptable; an intrinsic evil.
Our goal is to stir Catholic Faith beliefs and generate an outcry against these Evils.
The real problems, Apathy and Complacency (lack of interest), and satisfaction with the status quo, permit these evils to exist. Catholics are not motivated to fight abortion for many reasons; the most obvious is that we have not received proper instruction on our faith. For example, most Catholics don't favor abortion. They've rationalized, however, that it is a legitimate (legal), although unfortunate, consequence of a woman's choice. Certainly not a choice they would make. They further rationalize that since abortion is legal they will respect the choice of the woman. Poor or incomplete catechesis has contributed to apathy and complacency; the baby’s right to life is ignored. Fewer Catholics go to church. They are content.
Educating people to the "facts" of abortion is a required first step. By itself however, education rarely moves people to action. Action is stimulated from the heart; from a desire to do something; to cause change. As Catholics, we should expect that the stimulus be Scripture-based Catechism, delivered to us from our clergy/pastors. And, to be sure, this is the case in many parishes in every diocese, in every state. It is probable, however, that this number represents a minority of the clergy. We continue to experience the Culture of Death in our society because people haven't been motivated to ACT to end it; motivated by deep convictions of Catholic Faith.
As 4C Today has struggled to mature into its envisioned entity, much has been learned about the state of the Catholic Church in the USA. As a result we’ve come to the realization that 4C can/should be more than just a Pro Life organization. Expanding our focus and goals to address the need for Internal Church evangelization actually fortifies our Pro Life objectives. We are first and foremost Pro Life, Pro Traditional Marriage, and Pro Religious Freedom. But a declining, Mass-attending Catholic population makes the Pro Life message less effective than it can/should be.
A necessary first step is to get Catholics back into our churches; back to the Sacraments. The “Church of Nice” parishes emphasize Christianity, but at the expense of Catholicism. It is the ‘safer’ approach. But that approach, arguably, sends the message that it is too dangerous to preach Catholicism. It is embarrassing to be Catholic; it is too confrontational; it is unpopular; it is uncomfortable. The “Church of Nice” says we can’t afford these ‘negatives’. We don’t want people to leave. But Guess What? They are leaving….and continue to leave at an alarming rate. So the “Church of Nice” continues to play it safe…and more people leave. People want Identity – The Church of Nice offers comfort. More people leave. People want Spirituality, Truth--The Church of Nice promotes good feelings. Someone once defined stupidity as doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Was that someone an insightful fallen away Catholic?
4C Today intends to encourage clergy homilists to display the depths and convictions of the Catholic faith, embracing, explaining, and promoting the beauty of authentic Catholicism within, or as a natural addendum to, their Mass homilies. (They will not be asked to change their style or their core message, simply connect the message to “Catholicism”.) If every homilist would envision that there are a number of returning, but hesitant Catholics at this mass, imagine the positive impact that could be achieved if the beauty of the faith underscored the scripture readings referenced in the homily. If that message reiterates or illustrates “this is what it means to be Catholic” (or something similar) we may, just may, find some or many of these returnees back in church next week, especially if they understand that it’s good to have pride in being Catholic. It is on this issue where the Church of Nice FAILS.
The challenge to 4C Today is to define the proper way to approach our clergy with this concept. We must be respectful. We must be logical. We must keep the concept simple, yet beautifully attractive. (click here to read Connect the Dots) The extent to which we do these things will determine whether we’ve satisfied our mission.
We must help the clergy buy into the concept that it is holier to preach the truth than it is to make people ‘feel good’. The more they become comfortable with this, the more successful they and the Catholic Church will be. More Souls Will Be Saved!
The USCCB does a splendid job of communicating, in writing, the church's positions on political matters. Most Catholics, and for that matter many Americans, are aware of Church teaching, if even at the highest level. USCCB letters to the President and Congressional leadership place Catholic principles in public view for all to see. It is an important first step. But these single letters have been basically ignored by the politicians…. and many diocesan bishops and priests. The USCCB is viewed as just one group, expressing one view point. Rarely do these writings find their way into Sunday Homilies, and therefore, into the hearts of the faithful.
The bishops and parish priests are the ones who must lead the laity; the clergy must be encouraged to exhibit and pronounce a passion for the Truths of the Catechism to their parishioners. The actions of our clergy are needed if we are to return our society to one of a Culture of Life, rather than the Culture of Death. One-by-one, diocese-by-diocese, parish-by-parish, the battle can be won! This is the Mission of 4C Today!
4C Today is a grass-roots organization dedicated to encouraging our parish priests to proclaim the Beauty and Truths of the Catholic faith. The internal RE-evangelization will strengthen the Church community and restore a sense of humble pride in being Catholic.
4C Today is internet based but active in parishes around the country. Unlike most Pro Life websites which primarily report the news, 4CToday will focus on calling the laity to action; actions intended for improving Catholic leadership and developing a more informed Catholic laity.
4C Today efforts will focus on two primary tactics to stimulate improved Leadership.
All "good" efforts begin with prayer. 4C Today will identify and promote both private prayers and public prayer/worship events and groups which promote the Faith causes. More specifically, we will identify and promote those prayer activities which seek to increase the wisdom and strength of our bishops and clergy. These prayers will be the core prayers of our effort. Click here to go to our Prayer Pew, which contains these core prayers.
4C Today further believes that a most effective method of prayer is Adoration of the Eucharist, both publicly and privately. Adoring and revering our Christ in His Sacrament is, outside of the Mass itself, the most Catholic expression of our faith. If we are to truly follow Jesus in our faith, and in our works, we must become as close to Him as possible. Where and How better than in Adoration!
4C Today is devoted to attracting, encouraging, and most importantly, supporting, parish lay people in engaging in dialog with their local pastor and parish priests. The clergy will be encouraged to use their homilies as instruments of professing the beauty of Catholicism and its inherent Truths. The ultimate goal is RE-evangelizing the parish community to be a positive force against the Culture of Death. Catholic lay people have an obligation in this regard as stated in the Catholic Catechism, specifically Paragraph 907.
Unfortunately, not all Bishops and Priests will embrace these efforts; they will be content with, and defend, the “Church of Nice” environment they have created (or inherited) at the expense of promoting Catholicism as the way to eternal salvation. 4C Today pledges to assist local chapters in developing auxiliary tactics to address those situations. The goal will be to minimize the impact of “Church of Nice” tactics and develop an environment conducive to true Catholic community RE-evangelization.