What must we do to assist the New Evangelisation?
First understand what one is called to say before opening one's mouth!
I luckily managed to retrieve a copy of the CEG's training outlines [diamond dust - £508 on amazon!] and it's exhaustingly intensive and thorough - I'd guess there's more concrete guidance,doctrine and wisdom on a single page than in the entire Catholic Voices book; and more coherent catechesis in a paragraph than in seven years of contemporary primary school religious education...
Even the CEG junior training for adolescents is more comprehensive than any seminary formation - I doubt there are many Bishops around today who could deal with the barrage of postulates, conundrums, hypotheticals, cross-examinations, quandaries and subtleties a mere child within the Guild was expected to know, understand, express, interpret for a particular audience, be able to counter any argument involved in their position and finally be able to answer the near infinity of possible questions on it!
The CEG engaged in front-line guerrilla tactics with strategies which would knock Sun Tzu's socks off and a wisdom & experience only formulated by those who had worked gruellingly at the coalface...those Davids who had stood with knees trembling against Goliaths...
But the crucial point of their work was their intense, profound, comprehensive understanding of any issue before they opened their mouths - this was no ego-trip or vanity exercise, nor was it an opportunity to express one's personality and personal opinions in a Variety Act, nor was one ever permitted to 'wing-it' or 'fake it to make it'...the training is almost military.
You knew your stuff - you were tested, scrutinised, assessed & adjudicated on your knowledge, your understanding, your pedagogical style and your argot-empathic delivery.
A CEG member NEVER stated what the Church taught without being able to explain WHY.
In other words it's apologetics - apologetics - apologetics...not 'positive reframing in thought triangles' with soundbites on an issue you don't have a clue about & instead replace Church teaching with personalist, pragmatic, 'common-sense', middle-of-the-road, trite, patronising, posturing inanities which offends virtually everyone - while attempting to back up one's argument with an 'informed source' citation/quotation taken out-of-context!
But what's more - being a Guild member was seen as a honour and a sacrifice, a burden for which one was ill-equipped and never more than fractionally competent...there was always humility in the speaker - but there was unswerving defiant pride & devotion to the Truth about which one spoke and prayers that the Holy Spirit and 2,000yrs of the Great & the Good would speak through them as an unworthy medium.
Today there seems to be a volte-face: The smug, self-assured 'confident presence' pride is within the media commentator - the insecurity and uncertainty is in the [humiliating] weaker-than-water 'defence-no-defence' of the Faith & Holy Mother Church.
What should we be doing?
Studying, praying and teaching/training each other before we dare to presume that we could face our neighbour.
You don't give a child a carving knife or a madman an AK47...you don't send someone to lecture on Romeo & Juliet just because they've seen the local rep's version of West Side Story.
And no - before anyone accuses me of intellectual snobbery - I'm not saying anyone should have a string of degrees in philosophy & theology..they are entirely different studies to apologetics and catechetics - simple easily understood eternal truths which are built upon the transcended complexity of two millennia of intellectual giants...
It's a 'modern day apologist' who would waffle on with sentimentalist,mystagogic, obscurantist, sesquipedalian meaningless guff ad nauseam when asked 'what is the meaning of Life?"
It's the child who understood their catechism who would be able to state those earth-trembling words which resound through the cosmos and reach into the depths of our souls:
"God made me to Know Him,to Love Him & to Serve Him in this World; and to be Happy forever with Him in the next"
The CEG always sought to find that which Oliver Wendell Holmes called "The Simplicity beyond Complexity"...
Our modern soundbite brigade prefer the simplicity for simpletons...sensitively relayed in an inoffensive way which offends nobody except God, The Churches Militant, Penitent & Triumphant and anyone with a heart, a conscience or a brain-cell...
Peter Kreeft has reminded us that this is a war - and at present we are losing it because we're fighting the wrong battles in the wrong way against the wrong people for the wrong reasons to the wrong ends...
He states you cannot win a war :
1] If you blissfully sew peace banners on a battlefield
2] If you do not know whom you are fighting
3] If you do not know what kind of war you are fighting
4] If you do not know the basic rules of battle
5] If you do not know your enemy's battle plan
6] If you send your troops to the wrong battlefield
7] If you use the wrong weapons
8] If you do not know how to get the right weapons
& 9] If you are not confident of your inevitable victory.
...the enemy is the Devil & Sin
...our neighbour is not the enemy - our neighbour is a wounded patient whom we are commanded to love and that commandment demands we fight for them and their souls to our last breath for the sake of our souls...
...this isn't a political war or a psychological, sociological, economical or cultural war...it's a spiritual one...
...and until we're ready to acknowledge that fact and fight that right battle we'd better keep our swords sheathed and our mouths shut.
It's self-indulgent vanity and counterproductive folly to do anything if one is not able to speak on the Faith while ardently believing it, loving it and hoping in it....
So what should we do?
Appeal to an Apostle to reform the Catholic Evidence Guild - undergo their intensive, rigorous, scrupulous training...
..then we can dare to open our mouths.