If you were hesitating about going, this should encourage you to give it a go....
Sydney: A big crowd of young people
I attended the Michael Voris presentation in Sydney on 18th April. The topic was Why Saying you're Catholic is not Enough.
The presentation took place at St Charbels Church in Punchbowl and on a dreadful night of heavy rain a very impressive crowd of over 400 turned up.
Whilst talking about the attendees, it is also worth mentioning that 90% of them were under the age of 35.
I had mixed feelings about going along to the presentation as I am not a fan of Michael Voris's approach to evangelism. In particular, my impression is that he sets himself up as the judge of who is and is not a good catholic and has been quite quick to condemn men and women who have devoted their lives to the faith on the basis that he does not think they have done/said enough.
The presentation opened with Michael asking the audience how many people had seen his show the Vortex, and about 20% of the hands in the audience sprung up. He then compared this audience, which he had quite rightly recognised as fairly committed to the church with a vox pop which he had done in Ireland, where he found that only one in nineteen people that he interviewed outside a university attended mass regularly. The upshot is that he will use this event to show the world via his Vortex show that there are young people who are committed to their faith. I presume that he realises this is not the norm for young people in Australia.
The next section of his talk emphasised the point that we are Catholic because we have been chosen by God to be so and that it is not something that happened by mere chance of nature. Therefore because we have been chosen by God to be Catholic, it makes things worse when we betray that gift by acting in an un-Godly manner and go against the teachings of the church. This then led into a piece about the need to strive to be in a state of grace and to respond to the graces God bestows upon us. The audience were then told that if we are in a state of mortal sin (and he reminded us of the things that typically put us in that state) then we are going to hell. I can't remember the last time anyone delivered this message from the pulpit!
Michael continually emphasised the need to make use of the sacraments and in particular reconciliation and the Eucharist to help us get to heaven. I was interested to note that during the presentation, which took place inside the church, a priest was hearing confession. By the end of the night there was a queue of about 30 people waiting to go. My gut feeling is that many would not have joined this queue if it was not for the talk, however, I could be wrong.
During evening I continually had the thought; why aren't our priests saying some of this stuff during their homilies?
Why don't priests say this!
The skill that Michael has, is the ability to deliver a very unambiguous message which leaves the listener to make up his/her mind about what to do with that information. Too many homilies are lacking in quality of delivery (which is excusable as not everyone is a polished presenter) but worse they are also lacking in a goal or aim....which should be to help us get to heaven. I think Michael adopts the adage "tell it straight or tell it crooked" and this appeals to many people. At the end of the talk, Michael received a standing ovation from a large section of the audience - I have been to see Tim Staples in the same venue and don't recall him being given the same response.
Overall I am glad I attended and found it thought provoking, amusing (e.g. he cracked a joke about the fact that at everyone's funeral these days no matter how bad the deceased has been during his/her life, the eulogy paints them out to be a saint in heaven and now looking down at us whilst sitting next to Jesus) and largely absent of much of the things I feared from him such as Catholic tribalism and condemnation of the religious. If he could lose some of the rough edges and lack of charity, which I have heard from him in the past, then I think he could be a major driving force in the new evangelisation effort and someone who I would direct people to go and see."
Tour dates still to come:
Adelaide: 20 April
Melbourne: 21 April
Canberra: 22 April 2012
And you can find all the details here.