In his wonderful blog that I just discovered, Monsignor Charles Pope has offered some practical insights on this question (admittedly his own thoughts and reflections, not necessarily the dogmatic teachings of the Church). He offers them in the context of a term that I had never heard before reading his post, Remnant Theology. Remnant Theology reflects on the history of God and his people (first Israel, now the Church founded on Christ) from the perspective that he has time and again allowed his people to be led into exile and persecution, to remove the slough of complacency, compromise with evil, and sometimes downright disobedience and dissent that has crept in over time and distanced them from complete dependence on him.
What does Remnant Theology have to teach us about the Church Today?
His conclusion is both challenging and encouraging, echoing Christ's command to those gathered as he ascended into heaven:
Frankly it is going to take a stronger and purer Church to endure the cultural tsunami that is and has been rolling in. The first waves hit in the late 60s, and successive waves look to be even more destructive as Western culture is gradually being swept away. The Church will have to be pure and strong to endure the days ahead, to rescue those we can, and to help rebuild when the terrible waves have worked their last destruction.
I realize this post will not be without controversy. I do not propose it as the only answer to the times. Neither do I claim that fallen-away Catholics have simply been pruned as though we could know they will never return and be grafted on again. We should continue to Evangelize and seek to grow the Church by Christ’s own mandate. We cannot know the size the Lord wants us to be nor should we ever stifle the Spirit of Christ’s mandate, Go and make disciples of all the nations….+AMDG+