According to a recent online article I read at Fox News Latino, titled, "Switching Sides: Latinos Ditching Catholicism for Evangelical Churches," by Lauren Green, the situation of Hispanics leaving the Catholic Church for evangelical Churches is a more serious "problem"for the Church than I imagined. I knew it was happening in great numbers in Latin and South America, but I didn't realize it was also happening here in America too, in large numbers. What's the reason? I'm sure it's more than one reason, it's never one thing. An evangelical pastor whose own congregation has grown from 120 members in 2000 to over 17,000 today (on different campuses) believes that evangelical churches are doing a better job of putting people in relationship with Jesus. Now that should be a wake up call!
Pastor Alfredo de Jesus said, "It's the relationship between worshipper and God that each denomination affords its respective followers.....What I have seen, at least in my own experience is this encounter with God that we didn't experience in the Catholic Church....A system that was so rigid and God seemed so far."
God far? It doesn't make any sense to me. When I receive Holy Communion, when I pray God is very near to me. What's a more intimate union then receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus?
Maybe it's the charismatic type prayer and services that appeal to Hispanics but we offer that in the Catholic Church, so there is more to it.
Whenever I give a talk, I always tell the participants that according to Church documents, the bishops state that the "goal of all catechesis is to put adults (and children, of course) in communion with Jesus Christ." I explain that through intentional actions and a variety of prayer experiences this can be achieved, it's doable.
I love this quote from St. Teresa of Avila, "So many problems arise from imagining Jesus as far away when He is near." Jesus is near to us, in the Catholic Church, we have to convince people of that and give them prayer experiences and liturgies which help them to "feel"and experience that reality. If any denomination can put people in close relationship with Jesus it should be the Catholic Church with our ancient liturgies and traditions, variety of prayers and devotions that are offered, the sacraments and most especially Holy Communion. So what's wrong and what can be done? I'm convinced, good music is crucial to uplifting liturgies. And inspiring homilies as well. But obviously this situation should be addressed by the New Evangelization-practical solutions that work are needed. Committees that get to the bottom of the problem and address it in a timely and realistic way.