Chaput the Great Hits It Out of the Park Again

His address to the Serra International Convention. I tried to start summarizing, but I just kept putting the entire speech in the pull quote. It's just marvelous. Marvelous on the life of Junipero Serra, marvelous on Christian faith, marvelous on where we are and what is necessary. Read it!

In practice, American society now breeds a kind of radical self-focus and practical atheism – not by refuting faith in God, but by rendering God irrelevant to people’s needs and urgencies of the moment.  As Christopher Lasch saw in The Culture of Narcissism, consumer culture tends to create weak personalities dependent on group behavior and approval, and therefore more susceptible to advertising and product consumption.[ii]  The hard and social sciences replace the clergy as a source of guidance and meaning.  And social media and mass entertainment abolish solitude and personal reflection.
So in an age of massive self-absorption, the result is that real individuality and self-mastery are withering.  Why?  Because the communities that root and shape an individual in distinctive moral codes and histories – in other words, our families, Churches, synagogues and fraternal organizations – can’t compete with the noise and flash of consumer society.
Here’s what that means for all of us as believers.  A “new” evangelization must start with the sober knowledge that much of the once-Christian developed world, and even many self-described Christians, are in fact pagan.  Christian faith is not a habit.  It’s not a useful moral code.  It’s not an exercise in nostalgia.  It’s a restlessness, a consuming fire in the heart to experience the love of Jesus Christ and then share it with others — or it’s nothing at all.  Mastering the new social and demographic data that describe today’s world, and the new communications tools to reach it, are vitally important for the Church.  But nothing can be accomplished if we lack faith and zeal ourselves.  We – and that means you and I — are the means God uses to change the world.  The material tools are secondary.  People, not things, are decisive.