We live in a difficult age which, in many ways, harkens back to the dark world into which Christ was born - a world where humanity is lost in a darkness which is often of its own making. This darkness is generated by the human heart which ignores God, is totally focused on the self, and has embraced sin as not only acceptable, but as the established norm. We see this darkness here in East Texas, in our beloved nation, and around the world. We curse this darkness and reject it, but we must do much more than light one candle. We must allow the Light of Christ to shine forth in its radiant brilliance so that it might overpower the darkness!
Some time ago, I asked a Confirmation candidate, “What happens to the bread and wine at the consecration during Mass?” The candidate’s response was, "How should I know?" I'm sure that young man’s family and parish had worked hard to teach him, but his response underscores the need for what I am proposing in the attached document. You will note the words of the Ethiopian in Acts 8 quoted in Section 1 of this document, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” In an amazing way, they evoke the words of the young man I encountered at that Confirmation Many have made valiant efforts to teach throughout the history of this Diocese, and we must begin by thanking God for these dedicated souls, many of whom still have their hand to the plow.
It would be impossible to attempt the bold vision which is outlined in the following Constitution without the strong foundation that these brave souls have provided. The darkness has spread at such a rapid pace that it has simply overwhelmed the methods we have used heretofore. Now, we must seek new and creative ways to teach and share the wonder of our Catholic Faith. Not only the Church, but all humanity depends on it.
The tragic state of affairs mentioned above must not lead us to despair. The helpful voice of history reminds us that many generations have had to rise to the challenges of their day and have done so with heroic virtue. We are strengthened by the promise of Our Lord, the example of Our Lady and the Saints through history, and our own faith which always leads us to hope. Christ is our hope and with Him in our hearts no one can prevail against us. The admonition of Saint John Paul II, "Be Not Afraid!" expresses the strength that flows to us from Christ as we face these daunting challenges.
We have all heard the call of Blessed Pope Paul VI for a new evangelization, and his successors to the chair of Peter have echoed it for fifty years. Many have endeavored to answer the question of what this new evangelization actually is. While I certainly can't claim to have found the answer, I do believe the Institute and new approach to catechesis and evangelization that I propose in this Constitution is an important step. As with challenges the Church has faced before, the success of these new initiatives will be something we accomplish only through God's grace, arduous devotion, and great sacrifice on the part of all.
Please read this Constitution in a spirit of love for the Lord and His Church, pray and reflect on the role you can play, and join me in embracing the challenge of our day to go out to the world bearing the Light of Christ.