Monday, August 15, 2016

The New Evangelization

I am quickly learning from talking to others that the word evangelization can have a negative connotation for Catholics.  I believe that stems from a stigma associated with the word and a misapplication of its meaning relative to the mission of the Church.

Let's start with what evangelization is not. It is not a specific approach to preaching the gospel that invites or requires one to aggressively push the tenants of the faith on another.  Evangelization always respects the dignity of others while being willing to express the truth.  As the popes say, we should not impose the faith on others, but propose it.  One always has the freedom to accept or reject it due to free will.

That being said, the mission of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel.  There are many people who have not yet heard the Good News that Jesus came in the flesh, as the Son of God, and died to save ALL.  He did not come for just a few people.  Not for a certain population of people.  Not for those who are by all outwardly appearances good; he came for those of us who make terrible mistakes, allow poor judgment to lead us to bad decisions, or who have become lazy Christians!

Evangelization, in the missionary spirit of the Church, is a work of joy!  It is the Christian's ability to speak genuinely about their relationship with Jesus and the impact of the Word of God and the sacraments on their life! It is one's cooperation with the Holy Spirit, the "agent" of the New Evangelization.

We do not have to be bible scholars or theologians, but a healthy foundation of knowledge, and a desire to grow in faith, does give us the beginnings for evangelization.

If the joy of our faith is attractive, our willingness to share it will produce great fruit!

May God bless you and strengthen your discipleship in His name!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

The End of An Era

December 27, 2015

I recently learned that the final issue of the Catholic Times has been published. Not having advance notice of this, I was unable to say a final goodbye to those who have been faithfully reading my column for the past 16 years.

It has meant a great deal to me to receive feedback from my readers and I have often enjoyed all of your personal comments as we passed each other in church, at conferences or in parking lots!  Many of you took the time to write to me over the years and share your personal thoughts and stories as well.

Thank you!

I have decided to return to my original column title Rivers of Living Water which comes from the Gospel of John 7:38, which is also my email where you can write to me personally:

You will notice a new tab on this blog where I will enter new columns.

I hope you will continue to write to me and share your thoughts and opinions as you feel motivated.

God bless,

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pope Francis, What is going on here?

All in the same day, I read reports about how Pope Francis made a declaratory statement of support for the clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, by meeting with the clerk, and I watched a video of him embracing two gay men, one of whom he has known for a long time.

What is going on here?  Where does the Pope stand on such things?

Clearly, he stands right where Christ would.  He stands up for loving others without judgment.

His remarks about "Who am I to judge?" have been repeated endlessly, especially as argumentation for homosexual marriage.  Did anyone notice that this is a verse in the New Testament Letter of James?

In James, we read, "Who then are you to judge your neighbor?"  Is it possible that Pope Francis has actually taken scripture to heart and is trying to follow it?

What about Jesus?  When he called Matthew the tax collector, he went into his home with other tax collectors and sinners and ate with them.  Tax collectors were known to be dishonest, skimming money where they could, so naturally, the Pharisees questioned the actions of Christ.

I have to wonder if those around Jesus, like our modern-day Pharisees, jumped to the conclusion that Jesus supported theviery!

The response of Jesus is clear:  "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do."  Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'  I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."  (Mt 9:9-13)

Jesus isn't dismissing (or supporting) the sin, but he understands that to walk away from the tax collectors is to remove the opportunity for them to recognize their sin and be converted.  Nobody thinks that Jesus supports what the tax collectors did, and neither should anyone think Pope Francis supports homosexual marriage.

Pope Francis must uphold the doctrines of the Church.  Those teachings recognize sin in all of its many forms.  Rather than a pronouncement against individuals, sin must be identified for what it is, and loving arms must be wrapped around the sinner in the midst of his/her sin.

That is how we love others.  That is what Pope Francis is trying to do in a world that is distancing itself more and more from the Gospel message of love and mercy, a message that Jesus taught, a message that he lived and died for.

God bless,