Tag Archives: Evangelical Catholicism

How are far are you willing to change your mind and evangelize?

Catholics need to change direction: to move from the Counter-reformation approach, what is now too ghetto-like today, to one that is more evangelical. We are indeed moving in that direction but as far as I can see, we are moving too slowly. The work started by Pope Leo XIII and concluded by Pope Benedict XVI still is highly instructive. What is clear to historians, it was Leo who changed the Church’s approach to education, culture, politics, etc. that was evident in previous generations in the pontificates of Gregory XVI and Pius IX. Leo’s 25 years and Benedict’s 8 years are bookends. Leo dealt with all the points of human history; Benedict continued what John Paul started in completing the Second Vatican Council and bridging faith and reason. What Francis will give us is still too new to determine in a critical way.

All this is to encourage you to read and fully digest George Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church (Basic Books). I wrote about this book earlier here on Communio. What I said earlier remains the same now: Weigel is proposing to new evaluation, a new way for Catholics to engage the world. What we’ve been doing is simply not working anymore. Some Catholics are being eased into mediocre Christianity, others are walking away, others are searching for new ways to propose the truth of Jesus Christ and His sacrament, the beauty Catholic life. What Weigel suggests –and I am not going to give away the detail of his work here– is potentially going to anger some people and make others happy; he’s challenging every concept we have with regard to our ecclesial life: catechetics, preaching, liturgical music, the celebration of sacraments, matters of governance, education at all levels, how we use resources (economic and human), and so forth. Nothing is left unaffected by this public intellectual.

It is my considered opinion that dioceses and religious orders ought to take heed and at the very least allow Weigel’s ideas to ruminate in heart and mind. We can be uncritical of the ghetto mentality of Christian living and expect to be doing what Christ wants us to do. If it is, why are so many priests doing bad things, dioceses going bankrupt, Catholic hospitals merging with secularist institutions, religious order dying because they don’t, won’t, can’t live their charism with new vigor, parishes closing, etc.?

Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter

I’ve mentioned a recently published book, Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, and Making Church Matter by Father Michael White and Tom Corcoran. I am in the process of digesting the content of the book. I find it helpful, realistic and spot-on in many ways. AND, I am persuaded by the indications of the authors based on their own parish experience and expectations. Obviously, you can read the book and see your parish, school, religious order/monastery in what White/Corcoran say. They don’t pretend to have all the answers and nor do they think that their method of rebuilding the parish is going to work everywhere. In fact, their method is not applicable in many Catholic institutions. What the authors offer is a possible (hopeful?) lens and a reasonable path forward in what the Lord means by the seeking the hundredfold. Their questions and concrete experiences are hard-hitting and I think are meant to make substantial change from consumer Catholics to disciples of the Lord. I think the honesty and keen observations of White and Corcoran will help to evaluate and to ask the right questions.

As Catholics we want to be students of the Lord, to be disciples (Matt 22 and Matt 28); we neither want Catholics to be consumers nor to passive in the journey of faith, of building up of the Kingdom and confessing the central fact of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord. In other words, we are meant to be mature, that is, adult Christians per Saint Paul the Apostle.

If we continue in a “Catholic” consumer mentality we as a Church will be become even more irrelevant than we already are in some places in the world, even in the USA. Does salvation matter? Does living as we are meant to live, that is, as a happy, healthy and mature Catholic man or woman? Does Church matter? Does my religious order or monastery matter?

It is clear that White and Corcoran are enamored by the Protestant mega-church experience. There is much to appreciate about these mega-churches on the levels of statists, programming and personal engagement. But it must be said that this approach is not going to be sufficient for Catholics if there is no correspondence with Catholic sacraments and sacramentality, lectio divina, solid catechetics for children, youth and adults and a cultures of service and study. For example, I would be suspicious of any Catholic renewal without Eucharistic and Marian devotions and no intellectual and spiritual formation. Hence, there has to be a vigorous liturgical observance. To do otherwise is a truly ecclesial contraception.

I recommend reading Rebuilt with the following texts as material for an examination of conscience of self, and for those involved in parish/religious ministries:

+ John Paul II, Christifidelis laici
+ George Weigel, Evangelical Catholicism
+ Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly catechetical addresses, the Year of Faith addresses, and his three encyclicals.

Sit before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer, examine your way of proceeding, AND listen to colleagues and with various constituencies. Focus on your concrete experience. The parish/religious order is not an island unto itself; a parish/religious order is really a vital collaborator with someone greater (God) and with others, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. To allow a parish to become irrelevant and later die because of inactivity is criminal and sinful. Ask the Holy Spirit.

To live your faith in a more mature way, then I would get a copy of Rebuilt.

More resources are found here given by the authors.

A radio review of the book can be found here.

10 Biblical Verses leading to Catholicity

Lord God, your words were found and I consumed them;

your word became the joy and happiness of my heart. (Jer. 15:16)

10 Biblical Verses that lead to a deeper, more vibrant Catholic faith:

1. Matthew 16:18-19 / Isaiah 22:22 (Authority)

2. 1 Timothy 3:15 (Authority)

3. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (Tradition)

4. 1 Peter 3:21 (Baptism)

5. John 20:23 (Confession)

6. John 6:53-58, 66-67 (Eucharist)

7. 1 Corinthians 11:27 (Eucharist)

8. James 5:14-15 (Anointing)

9. Colossians 1:24 (Suffering)

10. James 2:17- 26 (Works)

This is what you’ll call evangelical Catholicism: relying on the scripture base your faith. The first question we have to ask ourselves: What does Scripture reveal? These bible verse are ones it is said, that Protestants Cannot Accept (without becoming Catholic). Blessed feast of Saint Jerome, patron saint of biblical scholars.

Irish Dominicans cling to tradition, are renewed

Irish OPs.jpg

The link this article, “For Friars, Finding Renewal by Sticking to Tradition,” leads you to a story about the Irish Dominicans who have had a resurgence in vocations by a keen attention to their tradition and the Church’s. While the author concentrates on the wearing of the habit, there are other things that have been recovered: an authentic companionship (communal life), faithfulness to the Church, the wearing of the habit and the common, evangelical mission and conversion of mind and heart. Kudos for the Irish OPs in recognizing the signs so as not to diminish further, or even die.

I can’t help but think that George Weigel’s latest book, Evangelical Catholicism, reflects what the future of the Church will be, including life in religious orders, not only in the USA, but around the world. You have to read, and re-read this book. Plus, I am tending to think that Cardinal Dolan was correct in saying that the Church in the USA is more concerned with the institution than she is with being missionary. Would that it be the case that the Benedictines could recognize what the Irish OPs did. I offer this article so that we all may share in the Irish OPs joy for their own renewal. We can benefit by their witness.

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Weigel’s Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church

Weigel Evangelical Catholicism.jpgIn today’s mail I received my copy of George Weigel’s latest book, Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21-Century Church (Basic Books, 2013).

I am already pleased to read a very fine book on the needs of the flourishing of Catholicism again in an era of significant discord viz. the Faith. I hope many will pay attention to what Weigel has to say.
Weigel’s pointing to a niche Catholicism that’s only now gaining currency in Catholic places. “Niche” in the sense that Catholics are now adopting an approach, a method, a manner of proposing the Truth that is more associated with Evangelical Christians than with Catholicism. We don’t always have the confidence and vocabulary to make the Christian proposal to others (to Catholics and non-Catholics alike). But if you think about, we’ve always been evangelical but we’ve been shy to share our faith with others in meaningful ways.
Certainly an evangelical approach is Catholic and is being picked up once again as a valid and faithful way of living the Truth. Perhaps our priests, religious, faith formation directors and not a few members of Roman Curia will see this light. It is not lost, however, on Pope Benedict XVI who has espoused an approach to the faith with his great emphasis on the new evangelization and the calling of the Year of Faith. Even some circles of the Orthodox Church have looked to evangelical ways as good and helpful.
Here is Brad Miner’s review article published on The Catholic Thing. It’s OK. I would have read the book anyway because George Weige’s the author. Turning Weigel on himself by quoting Weigel by saying, “He does chicken right.” The book is a terrific exposition on what we need in having our face set on the Lord. I would, however, say that Miner does not quite comprehend as fully as he ought what the theology of the Church fathers teach, especially Benedict, in that he seems to have an appreciate the cult of personality of those in the papal office than a relationship has with the Lord. Miner does pick this tendency up from Weigel, I fear. But there are times Weigel does the same. It is a serious flaw if not monitored. We unequivocally need to center on a renewed emphasis on Church reform that is personal first because only then it will effect a true reform/renewal in the Church organization. If I am not personally converted to Christ, then it matters little who pope is. But who is setting the agenda? As Weigel says in the March issue of First Things,
“The internal dynamics of he Church itself, attentive tot eh promptings of the divine Bridegroom and the unique challenges posed to the Great Commission by late modernity and post-modernity, have, together, impelled a new evolution in the Church’s self-understanding and self-expression. The result of that evolution, Evangelical Catholicism, is an expression of the four enduring marks of Christian ecclesial life –unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity.” 
You need to read Deuteronomy in this way: distance yourself from distractions and choose life: life in God; life in the communion of the Trinity. What is clear about Evangelical Catholics insistence on Catholics distancing themselves from confused thinking and acting, being more focused and less mediocre, to work for concrete unity both interiorly and exteriorly, and not to fear persecution.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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