The second half of the Twentieth Century saw the most rapid period of secularisation in the history of the British Isles. Families deserted Churches as religious apathy and indifference led to ignorance. Rapid social changes following the Second World War led to a rebellious youth culture, thriving of secular music and a desire to be different from previous generations. The result is that Britain is now more secular than ever – as a very large proportion of the population have no meaningful relationship, awareness or connection with God.
But today, there are more opportunities than ever before to evangelise and bring people back to a true understanding about faith. Huge changes in communication have led to unprecedented opportunities. The internet has made it easier than ever before to connect with others. Individuals such as Mother Angelica have made their own TV channels to help people to understand and learn about the Catholic faith. There is an opportunity for evangelists to use tools to reach people like never before – an entrepreneur’s dream! Already, groups such as Ascension Press and Word on Fire are evangelising via the internet like never before – with record responses.
A variety of grassroots initiatives in the United Kingdom have been tremendously successful in the Catholic Church. Catholic Voices has now been implemented in many countries around the world, which started in the UK – helping Christians communicate to secular and religious media truths about the Catholic Church. Alpha has been a global phenomenon and perhaps the most successful Christian model implemented by local Churches. 40 Days for Life has been a superb grassroots effort getting Christians to pray for a culture of life. The Cor et Lumen community has been a model of a Charismatic community that has seen around 40,000 miracles through their ministry. The Proclaim conferences have been some of the most exciting in recent years. The Walsingham shrine continues to enter a period of revival while new shrines such as Ramsgate remind their history. When all the grassroots efforts begin to flourish, we can hope for a culture of renewal. I heard of one French diocese that had 40 new movements – what will that diocese look like in 20 years time?
St Patrick successfully evangelised the whole of Ireland in his lifetime – an extraordinary feat. But who would say that is something that cannot be done today? What is to stop a major renewal in pro-life efforts? What is stopping people find and encounter Christ in record numbers? The conversion of Mexico at the time of sixteenth century with the story of Our Lady of Guadaloupe is a story unprecedented in history. And there is nothing to prevent a similar religious revival – predicted by the Cure of Ars to happen today.
Britain aches with religious names, monastic ruins and 1,000 years of Catholic history. The roots of our country are inherently Christian. We celebrate religious days such as Christmas and Easter but with a total confusion and misunderstanding about their real purpose. People are searching for God whether they know it or not. Most Christians are totally unaware of the power of the Gospel to transform lives and bring healing and restoration to our nation. St Ignatius of Antioch said, “The Glory of God is man fully alive.”
How wonderful to see a religious revival like never before. There was a Welsh revival, and a Charismatic renewal. But what is needed is something bolder that encompasses the whole country – bringing hearts and minds back to God. With God all things are possible. When things are focused on him – he can bring change beyond our wildest imagination. What we need is for individuals, families and communities to learn, understand and interiorise the greatest truths about the Catholic faith – to learn what is good, true and holy. To learn about correct reason and true faith. Christians don’t believe in the God that atheists don’t believe in either. When people truly have an encounter with God, their lives are never the same.
How could such a religious revival happen? If grassroots initiatives are all thriving – reaching their maximum opportunity then tremendous growth can happen. A culture of renewal must come from a renewal in marriage and family life. As a country we need to turn away from the things that are not of God. It seems a prospect which is far removed from our current situation. We need sacrificial prayer to bring about great change. We need communities that are on fire for Christ. If Christians really loved each other as God called us – the doors of Churches would have to be locked to keep people out there would be so much interest. We need a generation of disciples who are willing to sacrifice their lives to live out their vocation to the full.
What is God calling you to in order to bring about such a great revival? How can you bring his kingdom to full fruition – bringing renewal like never before?