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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are Catholics Supposed to be Evangelical?

In the podcast episode of Catholic Answers Live that I heard today, a man called up asking out of curiosity if it was Catholic practice to evangelize at all. He framed his question by talking about his experience growing up in a Catholic community where nobody ever invited him to consider Catholicism or (apparently) any Catholic event where he might hear about the Catholic faith.

That says it all, doesn't it? And yet we do know (perhaps vaguely) that Pope John Paul II does mention the "new evangelization" many times in his pontificate (start here). When you think about it, we are told after each Mass to "go to love and serve the Lord", and of course, we all know what the Lord said about evangelization.

Er.. that's awkward. That I have to say "when you think about it" means that it isn't quite so obvious. Jimmy Akin's reply to that question above was that evangelization has not been emphasized much in the Catholic Church in America, but it seems to be preached actively in parts of Africa. I don't remember many exhortations to evangelize during homilies when I was growing up in the Philippines. I don't hear them so much here in Melbourne either. Perhaps it's assumed to be a well-known exhortation to all Catholics anyway? Perhaps there is this expectation that Catholic schools will "take care of that sort of thing"? Hmm.. on second thought, schools will probably worry about political correctness, tolerance, plurality, inclusiveness, etc. What about parents? Hey! I'm a parent! What about me? When am I going to get off my bum and teach my children to evangelize?

Hmm.. I'll probably need to read this. And Redemptoris Missio. And this from Pope Benedict XVI. And Evangelii Nuntiandi. and .. Maybe there's a reason why this hasn't taken off so easy. BUT we have to start somewhere. Right. My kids!

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Communion

Today my heart burned during the homily given by our parish priest for the thirty-odd children receiving their First Communion. He pointed out the reality (not imagined or merely symbolic) of the Eucharist, and used the radical shift in the life of St. Paul as a backdrop. He also pointed out that this was only the beginning, and emphasized the continuity of the sacramental life in frequent Communion. I pray that the parents listened attentively, and took those words to heart, because that sacramental life needs a serious follow-through in family life. As if to illustrate the point, my eight-year old son, Patrick, asked me earlier why some Catholics don't even go to Sunday Mass regularly. (I don't know if it was wise, but I then explained what "cafeteria Catholicism" was, where Catholics pick and choose which parts of the faith they preferred to keep to the exclusion of those they didn't.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Saving lives that at the edge of suicide

Here's a great story about a man in Sydney who saves lives by being there to offer a smile and encouragement to people who were at the brink (literally) of suicide. Compassion in action!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Madness in early childhood education?

Carolyn Moynihan reports about alarming studies in childhood innocence concerning sexuality. Apparently, from seeking to right the injustice of "heteronormativity" that children seem to born with, to the premise that childhood innocence is an "erotic fantasy".

Carlyn points to this inconsistency in society:

 So here we have a really absurd situation. On the one hand, clerics and others being jailed for treating children as sexual agents and destroying their innocence. On the other, academics training childcare teachers to believe that childhood innocence is a myth and that they must actively shape the sexual awareness of their little charges.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Challenge to the Catholic Laity

.. is being thrown by Thomas Colyandro at Catholic Exchange in this article, Time to Clean Up Lay Spirituality Too. Some interesting points:

 Sadly, too many of the lay faithful doubt they have heard His whispers and tend to ignore His booming voice because they have been taught over a four decade or more span that their thoughts, feelings and day-to-day experiences are the valid conduit through which God will save them. In other words, the trend among spiritual bureaucratic types in the Church has been to train lay narcissists fully convinced that “where they are” is simply enough. The rationalization, of course, is that life of the layman is inherently noble with its struggles in and with spouses, children and work.

The time has come to remind the lay faithful that “the perfection of man does not consist in that which assimilates him to the whole of creation, but that in which distinguishes him from the created order and assimilates him to his Creator” (Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, p. 114).

Quite a bit more food for thought in that article. My first reaction to the first paragraph I quote above was shock. I am, after all, married with kids, and I do believe, as St. Josemaria Escriva taught, that we are sanctified wherever we act with God's grace. Thus the Holy Spirit uses us to sanctify our work, as a witness to others and a call for them to examine the cause of our joy.

But another thought hit me as I read that paragraph: being a husband, father and worker is indeed what I am, and I think (guided by prayer) what I am called to be. However, that's not the end of it. I am also called to be priest, prophet and king: to offer a sacrifice of praise and mercy to God, to speak God's words as a witness, and to dispense the justice of God. Ah. Now it makes more sense. In whatever role I play, I must be, at the core, nothing more than a disciple of Christ.