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Pope Benedict on Lay Responsibility PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 04 June 2009 10:57
Zenit ran an article on Pope Benedict's address given at the beginning of a four-day ecclesial conference for the Diocese of Rome on "Church Membership and Pastoral Co-responsibility." The article says that the Holy Father indicated that "laypeople are not merely the clergy's collaborators, but rather share in the responsibility of the Church's ministry."

"There should be a renewed becoming aware of our being Church and of the pastoral co-responsibility that, in the name of Christ, all of us are called to carry out," the Holy Father said. This co-responsibility should advance "respect for vocations and for the functions of consecrated persons and laypeople," he added.

The Pontiff acknowledged that this requires a "change of mentality," especially regarding laypeople, shifting from "considering themselves collaborators of the clergy to recognizing themselves truly as 'co-responsible' for the being and action of the Church, favoring the consolidation of a mature and committed laity."

The Bishop of Rome suggested that "there is still a tendency to unilaterally identify the Church with the hierarchy, forgetting the common responsibility, the common mission" of all the baptized ... "the command to evangelize is not just for a few, but for all the baptized."...

The Pontiff looked at the distinction between "People of God" and "Body of Christ," affirming that both concepts "are complementary and together form the New Testament concept of the Church." He explained: "While 'People of God' expresses the continuity of the history of the Church, 'Body of Christ' expresses the universality inaugurated on the cross and with the resurrection of the Lord." "In Christ, we become really the People of God," which, he affirmed, means everyone, "from the Pope to the last child." "The Church, therefore, is not the result of a sum of individuals, but a unity among those who are nourished by the Word of God and the Bread of Life," the Pontiff noted.


It's telling that for many Catholics, the idea of evangelization, or sharing their faith with someone else brings to mind the need to study, read some books on apologetics, dive into the Bible more, all of which are great. But isn't that a bit strange, too. I mean, if someone were to ask me about a friend - someone I love - I wouldn't do a Google search for information, or pull out my copy of their C.V., or ask other people what they knew about my friend. My first response would be to share what I know from my own experience. Granted, it's a limited knowledge, and I certainly wouldn't be able to tell someone else all there is to know about my friend, but I could tell some engaging stories, I'd imagine. Perhaps enough to help them want to get to know my friend themselves.

So it's for good reason that Pope Benedict recognizes the necessity of a mature and committed laity if they are to take co-responsibility for the being and action of the Church. That being and action is sharing the Gospel to every creature. The Second Vatican Council Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity states, "the whole Church is missionary, and the work of evangelization is a basic duty of the People of God." (Ad Gentes, 35) .

If the laity are to be mature, committed and effective at evangelization, the Holy Father is absolutely right that laypeople must draw close to sacred Scripture (and thus to Jesus), through means such as lectio divina. That means that we not only study Scripture from the aspect of reason and intellect, but also engage it in the presence of the Holy Spirit and encounter the Lord speaking directly to our hearts.

Evangelization begins through "living out charity," which is a great enough challenge, but we must also use words. "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence..." (1Peter 3:15b-16a) And, of course, the reason for our hope is found in the kerygma - the basic gospel message which we declare as the "mystery of faith" at every Mass: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. That is the reason for our hope - and that is why any basic proclamatino of the Gospel must include the cross - and an explanation of what it means.

The question is, naturally, how do we proclaim that basic message in a way that is accessible to post-moderns. That's one of the questions that Making Disciples tries to answer.
 
A PRACTICAL Degree in Theology...from Dominicans! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 18:01

Here's some information about a new degree program being developed at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology - the Western Dominican graduate school and seminary.

The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (Berkeley, CA) is a ministry of the Western Dominican Province. All of our Dominican priests and brothers receive their formal education there. The School is also open to lay women and men who wish to study in the Dominican tradition. The School is looking for people to participate in a survey intended to evaluate the current demand for a possible new graduate program – a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) - and to gather input to fully define the specifics of the program.

The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) is a Master of Arts degree designed for women and men who have professional experience and seek to enhance their contribution to Church and society. It is intended to provide students with a foundation in interpretive skills so that they can integrate their professional experience with the mission and tradition of the Church. The MTS will, like all programs offered by DSPT, be grounded in official Church doctrine and based on traditional Dominican heritage. The program will not require a thesis, but rather a pre-approved, alternative project will be accepted for evaluation.

If you are interested in participating in the survey, please contact the Academic Dean, Fr. Chris Renz by June 21, 2009 at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The survey will be launched on Monday June 22nd, at which time all those who have contacted Fr. Chris will receive an e-mail with a link to the survey.

In the meanwhile, go to www.dspt.edu and look around the school a bit!
 
Off for a good latte PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 17:02

I'm going to be heading off for Seattle, WA, to the Dominican parish of the Blessed Sacrament, where the Catherine of Siena Institute and some fly-by-night coffee dive were born. I'll be facilitating a day-long discussion by the parish staff, including those who work at the Newman Center at the nearby University of Washington, regarding how the parish can better live out its mandate to be a center of the New Evangelization. The staff has worked hard to prepare, and I'm looking forward to listening in to their discussions.

Consequently, my blogging may be a bit more spotty than it has been this last week.

In other words, back to my regular irregularity.
 
Proclaiming the Gospel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 01 June 2009 21:18

I have been toying with the idea of asking this question, and a comment on another post from a fellow whose "faith disappeared long ago," has become the catalyst for posing this question.

If someone who didn't really know Christianity - say your unchurched neighbor or your Buddhist colleague at work - asked you, "what is it, basically, that you Christians believe about Jesus?" What would you say? We just finished Easter season, with it's daily readings from the Acts of the Apostles, and so we've heard snippets of what the early Christian preachers said to their audiences. For example, we have this from the story of the conversion of the centurion, Cornelius, and his family (Acts 10:34-48):

34 Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, "In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
35 Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.
36 You know the word (that) he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
37 what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached,
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
39 We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and (in) Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
40 This man God raised (on) the third day and granted that he be visible,
41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.
43 To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."

And this gem from St. Paul, who obviously thought that the cross, which normally brought tremendous shame upon the crucified and his or her family, was the heart of the Christian message.

Galatians 6:14-15
14 But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.

What do you think are some of the essential points of the Christian faith having to do with the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, as well as his sending of the Holy Spirit? And not just the main points, but their significance. What does it mean when St. Paul tells the Romans, "For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." Rom 5:6-8

In other words, what do you think are elements of the basic Gospel message (kerygma) that Christians need to know and proclaim in order to invite people to conversion to Jesus and membership in His body, the Church?

I'll keep track of what you come up with and show you your progress from day to day. Here are some groundrules:
1. be serious, please
2. you can quote passages from the scriptures, but give a brief explanation of what you believe it means.
3. If the point's been made by someone else, don't make it again. However, if you think the explanation is deficient, please supply another explanation.
4. You can make as many points as you like; only one, or your description of the whole kerygma that must be proclaimed.

Thanks for your help.


By the way, thanks, Mike10613!
 
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