Monday, July 13, 2015

Commentary: Evangelization in the age of same-sex-stuff

This post was written by Carole Brown, our dear Kerygma friend who is now the Director of the Office of Evangelization for the ArchDiocese of Oklahoma City, OK and was posted on July 13, 2015 and is well worth the read. AMEN!
On the last Friday in June, we woke up to the news that the Supreme Court of the United States had discovered in the vapors of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a right to “marriage” for same-sex couples.
 The contrary witness of all previous generations notwithstanding, this puts faithful Catholics in the awkward position of having to publicly defend the truth about marriage in an environment that is becoming increasingly hostile.
 As friends and acquaintances, and even the White House, drape themselves in rainbow flags on social media, one senses a growing pressure to abandon our mission to call people to conversion to Jesus Christ, and the way of life that such a conversion involves. When legal rulings come into conflict with what God has revealed, the social environment becomes deeply confusing, and one must have a profound sense of where our anchors are sunk. In other words, why does the Catholic Church oppose this ruling?
 The moral conversion to which the Church is bound by its mission is not simply an observance of a set of arbitrary rules leveraged on those who experience same-sex attraction. Everyone who seeks salvation in Jesus Christ is called to chastity.
 In that respect, the problem is much bigger than same-sex couples who want legal recognition of their union. If we are honest, we must admit that the widespread practice of contraception and surgical sterilization has lent itself to the argument that same-sex relationships are no different than contraceptive marriages. For if married couples can voluntarily make their union sterile, why shouldn’t unions that are naturally always sterile anyway be given equal status?
 And, if marriage can be defined any way one wants, then why shouldn’t pedophiles be given equal access to have their sexual preferences made legal? Or polygamists? And thus, the value of true marriage, and its unique role in the begetting and rearing of the next generation, is rendered virtually meaningless, and the rights and needs of children take a backseat to the sexual preferences of adults.
 We can see that in the space of only one generation, a demographic winter is underway in many European countries, where deaths outnumber births by a significant margin, leaving a shrinking youth population to support a growing number of elderly pensioners. It’s clear that personal sexual choices are never purely private — they end up impacting everyone.
 But, even if one is unpersuaded by the significant harms to a society that doesn’t value chastity, we have other reasons for our stand. God has revealed himself to humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus wasn’t just a good teacher, he was actually God, “through whom all things were made”— he is the designer of the human person, the artisan of marriage, the one who said to the first couple, “Go forth and multiply.” Jesus taught us that life on this earth is only the precursor to eternal life, and the big question is, “what must one do to be saved?”
 There are important decisions to be made here. Salvation requires faith and baptism – and according to Jesus, it can be won or lost on the basis of having lived according to the commandments (Cf. Matthew 19:16). Jesus gave the apostles the authority to teach in his name (Matthew 28:18), and promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide them to “all the truth” (John 16:13). Whoever listens to the apostles, he said, “hears me” (Luke 10:16). That is why we take seriously what the Church, through her magisterial authority, teaches about sexual morality. This is the narrow path that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
 Finding that path and being able to walk it require a profound act of self-entrustment to the Lord.
 “I will choose to trust you Jesus, even if my obedience to you brings loneliness, because you are with me.” “I will choose to trust you with my fertility, Lord, because I know you have a plan for us.” “I will choose to give you control over my life, Lord, because I believe that your will towards me is good.” “I will trust you Lord, even when the future looks uncertain, because I believe you can make all things work unto good.”
 Such an act of self-entrustment to the Lord unleashes grace and energy to do the right thing, to live a more adventurous way of life that Jesus calls us to — “for I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).
 Following Jesus does not protect us from suffering, in fact it almost guarantees that our lives will be marked to some extent by suffering. But, one thing is certain: compared to eternity, all our difficulties on this earth amount to one night in a bad hotel.
 Evangelization in this new situation does not begin by lowering the moral hammer on unsuspecting secularists. It begins in the Catholic household, with us being honest with ourselves: is it my intention to follow Jesus? Can I be obedient to him in the Church?
 Honesty begins with sober self-examination, sincere repentance, personal conversion — and a profound entrustment of our lives to God’s providence as we make the adjustments needed to “get with the program.”
 It may not be possible to get the proverbial genie back into the bottle in society at large. However, by cooperating with the grace of God, and ordering our lives according to his will, we can still be saved. Only then will we have the moral authority (and the compelling witness) to call others to the same way of life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What Life Church Is Doing Right

From our dear friend, Carole Brown, Director of Evangelization and Kerygma Alumni, this article was too good not to share. For those of us in the trenches of Catholic- Protestant ministry, may this serve as encouragement that we are on the right path. Enjoy!

On Palm Sunday this year, I was standing in the foyer of one of the metro parishes where a liturgically sensitive usher was holding the stragglers at bay as the solemnities began.
I found a place to lean against the wall when suddenly a man came up to me and said, “Is this church always this crowded?” Since I was a visitor too, I indicated that I wasn’t sure. He clucked his tongue impatiently and said, “I’m going to Life Church.” I found myself thrust into an evangelization emergency, and I needed to give him a good reason to stay, pronto! I searched my mind — what did we have that they didn’t have? Of course. The Eucharist! So, I quickly uttered some hasty words of encouragement, that he shouldn’t miss out on the Bread of Life. His eyes glazed over and his words stung: “Some people are born to be Catholic, and some people are born to run away from the Catholic Church. I’m running away.” He turned on his heel, and left.

I know that many parents with adult children are heartbroken by the fact that their kids have abandoned the faith of their childhood in favor of churches like this. They say they are being “fed” there. What is a parent to do? What is the Church to do?
Surprisingly, one thing that evangelical churches do extremely well is a perfectly Catholic thing to do, and something we can learn. Life Church, like many other evangelical churches, effectively announces the core message of the Good News of the Gospel, in a thousand different ways. This core message so permeates the consciousness of these Christians that it shapes their welcome, their formation and the whole atmosphere.
The core message of the Gospel is called the “kerygma” (ker-IG-ma), or the “initial proclamation” of the Gospel. Recovering the kerygma is part of the culture shift within the Church to which the New Evangelization is calling us. Saint John Paul II referred to the kerygma as “the conversion-bringing proclamation of the Gospel … the initial ardent proclamation by which a person is one day overwhelmed and brought to the decision to entrust himself to Jesus Christ by faith.” (cf. “Catechesis in Our Times,” 19, 25) This initial proclamation is the “permanent priority” of the Church’s mission. In “Mission of the Redeemer” 44, he wrote:
“The Church cannot elude Christ's explicit mandate, nor deprive men and women of the ‘Good News’ about their being loved and saved by God. Evangelization will always contain – as the foundation, center and at the same time the summit of its dynamism – a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ ... salvation is offered to all people, as a gift of God's grace and mercy."
Pope Francis summarized the kerygma this way, “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.”
Saint Paul once distinguished between those members of the Church who needed milk, and those who needed meat. “I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able, even now …” (1 Cor 3.2) After the Protestant reformation, Catholics began to dwell almost exclusively on our doctrinal, sacramental and moral teaching — the “meat” of the faith – to emphasize those things which distinguish us from Protestants.
Only since the 20th Century catechetical movement, led by Joseph Jungmann and Johannes Hofinger, has the kerygmatic aspect of catechesis started to gain traction again in magisterial teaching.
Recent popes have indicated that without the conversion prompted by the kerygma, catechesis does not have a proper context within which to take root. Pope Francis gave an earthquake of emphasis to the kerygma, in “Joy of the Gospel.” He writes:
“This first proclamation is called ‘first’ not because it exists at the beginning and can then be forgotten or replaced by other more important things. It is first in a qualitative sense because it is the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment. We must not think that in catechesis the kerygma gives way to a supposedly more “solid” formation. Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation. All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into the kerygma, which is reflected in and constantly illumines, the work of catechesis, thereby enabling us to understand more fully the significance of every subject which the latter treats.” (“Joy of the Gospel,” 164)
Only a person who has joyfully entrusted himself to Jesus Christ is in a position to take on board the high standard of moral living that he revealed, or to fruitfully receive the sacraments. Pope Francis further wrote:
“ … (the kerygma) has to express God’s saving love, which precedes any moral and religious obligation on our part; it should not impose the truth but appeal to freedom; it should be marked by joy, encouragement, liveliness and a harmonious balance, which will not reduce preaching to a few doctrines, which are at times more philosophical than evangelical. All this demands on the part of the evangelizer certain attitudes, which foster openness to the message: approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome which is non-judgmental.”
The “culture of kerygma” is what Life Church, and most evangelical congregations, do really, really well. If we can internalize the kerygma in our own lives and develop a more kerygmatic culture ourselves, the welcoming atmosphere of our churches will be transformed. Our children will not only stay Catholic, but catechesis will be set in its proper context. And furthermore, evangelicals will be more likely to find the fullness of their faith. 

Originally posted here:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why Culture War is Unavoidable - Crisis Magazine

Why Culture War is Unavoidable - Crisis Magazine

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Beatles and the Dawning of a New Age - Crisis Magazine

The Beatles and the Dawning of a New Age - Crisis Magazine

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ten Thousand Places: An Open Letter to the Catholic Blogosphere, On Pen...

Ten Thousand Places: An Open Letter to the Catholic Blogosphere, On Pen...: Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spir...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Questions You Should Ask BEFORE You Marry

We have seven kids and this weekend a second one married. Apparently we have done a poor job raising them and not conveying our value system on them because our two most stubborn children have  picked mates that....  There is a reason that parents ask you to wait.
So, in light of the two that got away, this little article is for the other five to come and all of those others that we claim as "our kids".

1. Don't marry someone with two or more sets of parents. 
Don't even get slightly interested in them. You can choose to love someone with a mother and a father. They may be a little harder to find, but they will be worth the wait. Why? You are already setting yourself up for failure when you marry someone whose parents have chosen to not tough it out, no matter what they say. If they have divorced and raised their child as a single parent, hats off to them. You can't see the future but the multiple parent syndrome continues to spread.

2. Where does this person fit into the family?
Are they the oldest? Youngest? Only? Only daughter or son? Believe me, it matters. Lack of sisters interacting with each other or brothers or sibling pecking order makes a huge difference when you begin to fight, and you will. If you come from a large family where there is more input and you marry a baby and only female who has been the center of their world, they are going to have a problem with you. Especially if they have been spoiled and catered to. Warning!

3. Money. Oh yes, it does raise it's ugly head, early and frequently. 
What about "wants"? There is a difference between wants and needs. Do both of you know what they are and do you agree on them? Are you used to "making do"? Are they? What about credit cards? Do they have them? Use them? Owe on them? How much? Marrying someone with a lot of debt means they already are married to THE DEBT, and you will get to marry it also.  Marriage is meant for two, three is a crowd. 
If you think going out to eat or buying clothes just because you are going somewhere new is a need, you better take your blinders off now. Do without while you can and that would include that tank of gas.

4. Habits.
What are they? Porn? Internet? Games? Sports? Dirty movies? Alcohol? Drugs? Shopping? You might should slow down and listen to your parents. You might actually avoid a difficult road if you just check them out a little longer. Porn addiction is about like the debt: they already have a spouse and you get to marry it with them.  Not fun. Three is a crowd. What about same sex attraction? Know their history. 

5. Kids.
They come. You could be the one in a million who has trouble conceiving, male or female, but chances are, you aren't. Do you have a fertility plan? Before you have even gotten used to each other, don't bring a poor innocent life into the picture. It isn't about making a baby. It is about raising a better adult than yourself. 

6. Parents
How do they treat theirs? If they are in control, bossing and talking down to their parents, guess what you will have for the parent of your children? Do they communicate regularly with both parents? If they don't, you should  ask why. Are they in fear of their parents?  Can they talk freely about anything with them? Were they abused? Have a good time with that one but slow down and find out. 

This will do for now. I bet I will add to this list. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

8 Ways Jesus Suffered for You

I think this is a wonderful post.
Read it and consider what Jesus did for you. Author, J. Lee Grady is an excellent and thoughtful writer.  I've read him for years and he just keeps getting better.
In my years of searching for a deeper Christian walk, I had to confront all of the joy I found in Good Friday services with the reality that I personally did not contemplate the "holiness" of  the life of Jesus and His willing sacrifice for me. For ME!  Neither were others who worshipped with us at our many churches through the years. We were busy singing and having a great praise and worship service for the most part. As Lee states, my Jesus came off that cross! (See my blog on that subject below somewhere.)
As I was coming in the Church, I was ending a 40 day fast, experiencing Holy Week in a completely new and convicting way anticipating Easter Vigil and identifying with 2000 years of Christians who had gone before me in thankfulness to the Only Begotten Son of God, who gave up His Life for Me.
Oh, Fortunate Fall.

In the churches I grew up in, all the crosses I saw were plain and empty—and usually painted white. We celebrated the fact that Jesus came off the cross and was raised from the dead on Resurrection Sunday. So I always considered the Catholic cross very odd because Jesus was still hanging there in bloody agony. Some people I knew even suggested that crucifixes should be avoided because they leave Jesus in perpetual death.
I’m not lobbying for anyone to wear a crucifix. But I do think we Protestants have at times been so fearful of Catholic doctrines that we minimized Jesus’ painful suffering. In the Gospels, plenty of time is spent describing the torture that led to Calvary and the pain Jesus suffered while nailed to a piece of wood. We should ponder what Jesus suffered if we ever hope to fathom the price He paid for our salvation.
Here are eight things we should think about during the days leading up to Easter:
1. He was betrayed by His disciple Judas. Jesus’ pain was not just physical. Can you imagine the sorrow He felt when one of His own trusted friends became the ultimate traitor? We aren’t exactly sure how to calculate the modern value of 30 pieces of silver, but many scholars suggest about $950. All the pain Jesus endured on Good Friday began the night before, when Judas took blood money to have his Master arrested.
Think about it: There’s a bit of Judas in all of us, and we all betrayed Jesus to get our own way. Yet He chose to forgive us!
2. He was abandoned by His other followers. We often focus on Peter’s denial of Jesus. But the Scriptures remind us that all of Jesus’ disciples “left Him and fled” after His arrest (Mark 14:50, NASB). Jesus had to suffer alone. All the men He had taught and invested in for three and a half years abandoned Him in His hour of need.
Think about it: Jesus paid it all. He accomplished His work of redemption without our help. But He forgave us for our denials!
3. He carried the burden of the sins of the world. Jesus’ greatest agony didn’t start on the cross. It began at Gethsemane, where God laid on His Son the sins of the world. Jesus agonized so intensely in those moments that He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Scholars say He probably developed a condition known as hematidrosis, in which blood is emitted through the sweat glands because of intense stress.
Think about it: Your sin was transferred to Jesus’ account, and He bore the punishment you deserved!
4. He was falsely accused and rejected by Jewish leaders. Can you imagine the heartache Jesus experienced when the very people He was sent to save spat in His face, blindfolded Him, cursed Him and accused Him of blasphemy? The Sanhedrin set up a kangaroo court and sentenced the Son of God to death.
Think about it: Jesus did not open His mouth in self-defense when He was falsely accused. Now, when Satan accuses you, Jesus argues your case and declares you not guilty!
5. He was mocked and abused by Roman guards. After Pilate caved into pressure from the Jews, Roman soldiers flogged Jesus with a whip, drove a crown of thorns into His scalp, beat His head with sticks and mockingly pretended to worship Him. The flogging alone—which would have involved leather cords with pieces of lead or bone attached—would have drained much of Jesus’ blood.
Think about it: Jesus could have called on angels to stop His torture—but He chose to endure the pain because He loved us!
6. He was crucified between two thieves. We cannot even fathom the pain of crucifixion. Metal spikes were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet, and He had to slide His mangled body up against the wood of the cross in order to catch His breath. And because it was the habit of Romans to crucify criminals naked, Jesus endured the ultimate shame. What's more, He hung on that crude cross next to two men who had been convicted of crimes—while He was completely innocent.
Think about it: We should have been on death row, not Jesus. But He took our place!
7. His body was pierced with a spear. Even after Jesus took His last breath, a soldier jabbed a spear up through the chest cavity—most likely to make sure Jesus was dead. John tells us that blood and water spilled out (John 19:34), evidence that the spear pierced the pericardium, the sac around the heart. Jesus’ heart was literally broken for us.
Think about it: Just as Adam’s side was opened to bring forth the first woman, Jesus’ side was opened to bring forth the church. His piercing produced a fountain of life for us!
8. He tasted death for all. This is the most horrible reality of the cross. Christ did not die metaphorically or symbolically. He died literally. The Son of God, who had never sinned—and who was least deserving of death—died so we could have life. His heart stopped beating, He stopped breathing and His spirit left Him. First Peter 3:18 says: “For Christ also died for sins once and for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.”
Think about it: Because Jesus died in our place, we no longer have to die. Eternal life is His free gift to us!
This Easter season, ponder the steps the Savior took from Gethsemane to Golgotha. Look at His nail-pierced hands and feet. Take a careful survey of His wondrous cross, and thank Him for hanging there six hours for you.
Note: If you know someone who doesn’t understand what Jesus did for them on the cross, please forward this article to them—and invite them to your church on Easter Sunday.
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at@leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.