The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

According to Rodney Stark's latest book, The Victory of Reason, the reason we American's are down here running two churches is that for centuries the Church is Latin America has been cooking the books. That is, the number of Catholics counted never really reflected a true number of even moderately practicing faithful. The reasoning goes, since the state was officially Catholic, then those who live in said state are Catholic and were counted as such. I see evidence for the veracity of this theory regularly. For example, I heard a prominent member of the clergy in this country once say, "60% of Dominican Catholics over the age of 14 aren't Baptized." A shocking statement on multiple levels. From what I can remember from my basic catechism is that one isn't Catholic till Baptism. I say all this, well, to give you all some understanding of what we're up against, but also to understand my latest story. I'm at my parish staff meeting and we're addressing the problem of bleak Sunday church attendance. Our trusty deacon gives us an anecdote of how he enforces afternoon study time in his household--he shuts off the power to the house. Well, it was then seriously proposed that since we have battery power in the church, why not shut the power off in town during the hour of Mass? It would be a convenient way to eliminate a few distractions for our flock. Alas, the idea was shelved, somehow it just seems to me too much like a terrorist tactic for my comfort. I'm afraid there is no substitute or short cut to the tried and true method of evangelization--the one on one experience. This is quite a task in a parish with over 5,000 souls.


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