One of the very best books about the faith is The Spiritual Life
by Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D., offered by Tan Books
. A pertinent section for your topic, which is one I also consider with some puzzlement, is
Chapter II: Nature of the Spiritual Life
Article II: The part of man in the spiritual life
Part I: The fight against spiritual enemies
Against the World
§216:"We shall not, then, venture into the world except to exercise there our zeal either directly or indirectly.... Without turning our conversation into a sort of sermon (which would be out of place) we shall judge everything, persons and things, by the light of the Gospel. Thus, instead of proclaiming the rich and the powerful the happy ones of this world, we shall note in all sincerity that there are sources of happiness other than those of wealth and success.... But it is chiefly by his own example
that a priest is a source of edification in conversation.... No one can help admiring those who live according to their convictions...."
So even after encouraging a verbal pattern of offering sincere expression to the point of view of our faith, the book still affirms example to be the primary offering. Recall, also, that for the complacent to utterly change overnight implies a violation of their free will: we can't expect God to convert the lukewarm out of the blue, as He wishes to respect their free will. There is some comfort in this, as our efforts will often appear to be in vain! But example is everything. This is one of the troubles of today: the news is full of priests who have not lived exemplary lives--it's hard to get an over-educated hyper-rationalist person to take ideas born of faith seriously, when he hears in the news that a whole seminary had to be closed owing to homosexual activity and pornographic archives (1
), or that more victims of abuse have successfully sued, or that whole dioceses are in danger of being shut down (and not before time). But a faith-filled family with good manners
and characterized by decorum--a beacon among a wicked generation--is a wonderful sight. Remember that those without faith are ultimately frustrated. They may have their minds focused on consumerism and so on, but ultimately they are unhappy. Our hearts are restless until they rest in God (St. Augustine). That goes for the heathen and pagan and neo-barbarian too. They just don't realize that they are ontologically restless.