Greetings from Roma! I haven`t found time to post anything new this week, but here`s my latest Prairie Messenger column. Cioa!
Friends and family are well acquainted with my feelings about a certain Christmas homily from several years past. In front of a church of regulars and many `C and E` Catholics, the pastor announced loudly and strongly that the most important place to be in the world is inside the four walls of this church!
The memory of those words set me off on a long, impassioned rant. I`ll challenge that belief straight from the depths of my gut, spewing forth my anger at such a closed-minded and judgmental theology. There are those that are in. And those that are out. Choosing which category a person falls into is easy…does their back-side warm a pew on a Sunday morning?
Today, another pastor challenged us to be roamin`Catholics. We are called to go beyond the walls of the church; beyond the altar and tabernacle and into the world. Our faith is not a Sunday morning activity. It is meant to be a life choice, shared through our daily lives. AMEN!!!
This difference in views might not seem like a big deal. But it really is a big deal. Some folks view their faith as a call to barricade themselves from the rest of the world. The world is evil. The Church is good. Therefore, we should have as little to do with the former and give all our time and energy to the latter. This kind of ecclesial-centric faith emphasizes the liturgy and sacraments. And, since the liturgy and sacraments are number one, then so are her ministers. This is at the core of clericalism. The more this mentality is fed, the more power is hoarded and the greater is the divide between the ordained and laity.
Being called beyond the walls of the church does not minimize the importance of the liturgy and sacraments. Catholics believe in the efficacious grace of sacraments. We need their healing, nourishing, energizing, and forgiving gifts, given so freely and generously by a loving God. We need to gather as a community of faith and prayer. But we gather in order to be sent.
We are all called to be roamin` catholics. This is at the heart of the new evangelization, spoken about so frequently by recent Popes and Bishops. It is time to unlock the proverbial tabernacles and truly bring Jesus into the world.
On June 28th, I wrote a post titled defending the faith – should we? Sarah left this comment,
I recently listen to a GREAT podcast sermon on this topic exactly. If you have 40 minutes, it is worth a listen. http://trinitygracechurch.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Trinity-Grace-Chelsea-3-August-08.mp3
I didn`t have 40 minutes to spare but thought I should quickly check out the link before approving the comment. Well, 40 minutes later my work was still undone but I had listened to the entire broadcast. It was, indeed, well worth a listen. Thanks, Sarah!
My original post questioned aggressive proselytizing and defense of the faith. The podcast addresses this issue within the evangelical world. Here is a brief summary….
Too often, evangelization focuses first on critiquing the world. It then moves on to presenting and vigorously debating the Christian message as the answer. This method overvalues the human role in conversion, and undervalues the work of the Holy Spirit. The methods of St. Paul are studied for possible solutions. Paul spent most of his time focused on existing communities – praying with them, encouraging them, energizing them. As these communities grew in faith, their way of life became a thing of beauty. Faith lived in the fullness of beauty will draw others. We want want they have! Yes, Paul also preached the gospel to all and participated in lively discourse with those of other religions. If the message was believed and embraced – praise God! But if there was no receptivity, he simply moved on. He did not spend his energies on critiquing and arguing until the gospel was accepted. Preaching hell-fire and brimstone, judging and criticizing seldom move hearts.
I`m not sure who the speaker is in this podcast, but he presents a well reasoned and rational approach to evangelization. The podcast is from Trinity Grace Church in New York. Sarah is from Siren Magazine, an online magazine covering `community, home, faith, fashion, and culture from a progressive Christian worldview.`