All posts tagged: evangelization

Summer Symposia 2017: Reading the Bible Liturgically

Among contemporary Catholic evangelization programs, you often hear about the importance of the Scriptures. You hear that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is mediated through our reading of the Bible both privately and in groups. But, it is often forgotten that the fullness of the Scriptures is made manifest within the context of the liturgy itself. As Pope Benedict writes in Verbum Domini: To understand the word of God, then, we need to appreciate and experience the essential meaning and value of the liturgical action. A faith-filled understanding of sacred Scripture must always refer back to the liturgy, in which the word of God is celebrated as a timely and living word (§52). We meet the person of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures as they are sung and proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Hours, in the Mass, and in the sacraments of the Church. We see these Scriptures interpreted in stained glass windows, in medieval manuscripts, in iconography, and in the lives of the saints. All Scriptural evangelization must at least implicitly take the liturgy as the …

Westminster Cathedral and the Secular

Editor’s Note: This week, the director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and the editor of Church Life is visiting the United Kingdom to give a series of talks on liturgy and secularization. He is also beginning an inter-disciplinary research project related to this topic. He will be blogging about his trip over the next seven days.  After a rather dreadful travel delay, I arrived in London early Sunday morning. When my cross-examination by British custom agents was complete (an inquiry in which I had to emphasize that I liked my job and was not trying to secure a rogue faculty position in the UK), I found my way to my hotel in central London. Checked in and no longer smelling like I had been on a plane for 10 hours, it was time to get to Mass at Westminster Cathedral for the 2nd Sunday of Lent. From my hotel, I wandered down toward Buckingham Palace. Since it was nearing noon, the streets were full of tourists longing to get a sight of the queen …

Editorial Musings: Does Evangelization Require Cultural Catholics?

This week at Church Life, we’re happy to publish an essay by one of our 2016 Liturgy Symposium presenters, Dr. Michael McCallion. Using the discipline of sociology, Dr. McCallion assesses the evangelization efforts of two parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit: one that uses a rational-intellectual approach to evangelization, while another focuses on an affective-volitional one. According to Dr. McCallion, the affective-volitional approach has generated more activities associated with the New Evangelization than the rational-intellectual one. Thus, the former approach seems better placed to renew ecclesial life in the present. Our editorial group spent some time discussing the findings of this article. While we were persuaded that an affective-volitional approach may be an essential catalyst in spurring activity within parish life, we also concluded that the article only measures the efficacy of evangelization at the level of the individual. That is, Dr. McCallion focuses primarily upon individual transformation that results in new forms of activity in parish life rather than the transformation of culture itself. The tendency to treat evangelization merely as an individual’s attraction to …

Editorial Musings: Does a Catholic School Evangelize?

Over the next week, the American Church marks its annual commemoration of Catholic Schools Week. The theme in 2017 is Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service. And we here at Church Life will be marking this week through a variety of posts related to the theology and practice of Catholic education. Dr. Glenn B. Siniscalchi has contributed an essay that will guide our inquiry this week. He notes that magisterial documents describe Catholic higher education as an activity of evangelization. Yet, in a survey to leaders in Catholic higher education, it quickly became obvious to Dr. Siniscalchi that many see the category of evangelization through a lens of suspicion. To these academics, evangelization in Catholic higher education would mean to proselytize, to take away religious liberty, and to substitute indoctrination for intellectual inquiry. In essence, if evangelization is part of a Catholic university’s mission, it would (to these scholars) take away the vocation to be a University. We would have Catholic institutions that trade away excellence for religious identity and security. But, this is …

Catholic Higher Education and the New Evangelization

Today courses in Catholic theology are supposed to be characterized by the New Evangelization. My contention is supported by two basic lines of evidence. First, magisterial teaching strongly testifies to the necessity of teaching theology with an evangelical orientation, including Vatican II’s Gravissimum Educationis, several documents issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 2008 address to Catholic educators. These sources demonstrate that professors working in Catholic institutions of higher education are supposed to explain the rationale for Church teaching in the classroom. Second, I briefly outline and discuss the results from a questionnaire that I sent out to at least one theologian at every Catholic college and university in the Unites States. The results of this questionnaire indicate some hesitations about my proposal. I exposit these challenges under five broad headings and offer rebuttals to their concerns in the light of Catholic teaching. Magisterium, Universities, Evangelization One of the most important documents for understanding the role of Catholic education in the modern world is Vatican II’s Gravissimum Educationis. This Declaration …

Preaching Kerygma

In a recent article for this journal, Bob Waldrop cites statistics from Sherry Waddell, who states that 60% of Catholics 18 to 29 years old and 54% of Catholics age 30–49 do not believe that a personal relationship with Christ is possible, which Waldrop claims is indicative of the overwhelming secular influence of this age. He argues that the remedy to this unfamiliarity with Christ is an encounter with the kerygma followed by an effective initiatory catechesis. This claim for the need of a kerygmatic proclamation is not new, but rather has been whispered throughout the Church for 80 years, beginning with Fr. Josef Jungmann’s heavily debated book The Good News Yesterday and Today. Originally suppressed by the Jesuits, the book experienced a resurgence through its promotion by Johannes Hofinger, a one-time student of Jungmann, and the catechetical work of the Second Vatican Council. Catechetical study weeks of the 1960s further promoted the need for kerygma in catechesis, but the General Catechetical Directory (1971) and the General Directory for Catechesis (1997) relegate the kerygma to …

Embracing a Preferential Option for the Family

Ministry at the level of the parish is often an attempt to focus chaos and point that energy in the right direction. People and groups approach parish ministers (both clergy and lay pastoral ministers like me) with ideas, energy, financial backing, and credentials on a weekly—even daily—basis. The reality of focusing the energy and effort of the parish is tremendously gratifying yet bewilderingly difficult; it requires a deep friendship with Christ (who is the way, the truth, and the life) and a clear, prophetic vision for the reign he came to teach. Within the beautiful bedlam of parish ministry I have found it important to hold onto certain pastoral values in the midst of all the judgments and decisions about which directions to point energy (both mine and others) and asserting priorities ahead of other items which may very well be good too. One such value that is particularly helpful in focusing pastoral care at parishes is what I’ve come to call the “preferential option for families.” The wording preferential option is borrowed explicitly from …

Liturgy, Kerygma, and the Personal Relationship with Christ

The Compendium on the New Evangelization, issued by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, gives new meaning to the term “weighty tome,” coming in at nearly 3.5 pounds and 1,126 pages! It traces the topic back to Pope Pius XII, who in 1947 lamented that Rome itself had become a missionary territory. The book shows a clear paper trail from Pius XII to the present day. Pope St. John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council, which in the second paragraph of its first approved document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, connects liturgy and evangelization: While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord . . . at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations. . . . (SC §2) The Council went on to say in Apostolicam Actuosotatem: On all Christians therefore is laid the preeminent responsibility of working to make the divine …

The Francis Effect Isn’t About Numbers

Yesterday in The New York Times, Matthew Schmitz of First Things contributed an op-ed debunking the supposed Francis effect. He noted that although the papacy is viewed in a more positive light than it was under Pope Benedict XVI, Catholics are not returning to the pews. In fact, there has been a slight or marginal decrease in the last eight years: New survey findings from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate suggest that there has been no Francis effect — at least, no positive one. In 2008, 23 percent of American Catholics attended Mass each week. Eight years later, weekly Mass attendance has held steady or marginally declined, at 22 percent. Commentators, both religious and secular, have noted this fact before. Pope Francis, no matter how attractive he is viewed, is not bringing people back to active Mass attendance at least within the United States. We should not be surprised that lapsed Catholics remain, well, lapsed–despite the the magnetic pull of a single Pontiff. The attraction to Pope Francis must be understood within a broader …

Liturgy and Evangelization: The Data and the Task

At a recent event sponsored by the Evangelical Catholic, Rev. Thomas Wray of the Office of Evangelization of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati began his homily at Mass with sobering statistics about those who are baptized as infants in Catholic churches: 15% do not make their First Communion. Of the 85% that are left, 42% do not receive the sacrament of Confirmation. We lose 80% of confirmandi after high school. Statistics presented by Sherry Weddell in her book Forming Intentional Disciples show that “Nones”—as in “I have no religion”—is the fastest growing “church” in the United States: 17% of the population is a None; 24% of 18- to 29-year-olds are Nones. Four times as many people leave the Catholic Church as join it as adults. Of those who leave the Catholic Church: 15% joined a Protestant church. Two-thirds of them say that their spiritual needs were not being met in the Catholic Church and they found a church they liked better. About one quarter cite the clergy sexual abuse scandal as the reason they left. The …