Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back to the New Evangelization

I feel as though I've been jumping between topics quite a bit lately.  Don't worry.  We'll tie everything together.

The soul mate issue will be tackled next week, as my sister-in-law prepares for her wedding on July 2.  My family will be in wedding mode, and so will my brain, and thus, my blog. 

In the mean time, check out this article from Fr. Damian Ference of the Diocese of Cleveland.  It ties in nicely to my previous post on the New Evangelization.  This is really some great stuff on discipleship.  You can access the article by clicking HERE

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Save the Date: Cow Appreciation Day is Coming

An important note to make today:  Cow Appreciation Day will be taking place at Chick-fil-a on July 8, 2011.

Details forthcoming.

Read about it here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Object of the New Evangelization

Last week I read a document by Bishop Edward Clark (of Los Angeles) on the New Evangelization.  He does an excellent job of summing up items various popes had been focusing on since 1975.  Here is a short excerpt from Bishop Clark's document:

What Makes It "New" and How Does It Differ From the "Old"? 

Traditionally the work of evangelization is the work of making converts, of baptizing nonbelievers and non-Christians into Christianity and specifically into the Catholic Church.  The Gospel is preached and the catechism is taught to non-Christians and non-Catholics in foreign lands and here at home.  Potential converts are taught about Jesus Christ (note the preposition about), and they are instructed in the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church.  Once the convert is baptized and/or received into the church and is added to the number of church members, the work of evangelization is done.

Read all of Bishop Clark's document here. 

Bishop Clark makes one incisive point here.  We don't teach about Christ, like He is a figure of the past.  Like His life is part of a great myth.  

We teach Christ.  We witness Christ in our lives, and in turn witness Him to others.  

This is evangelization that is alive.  St. Paul says that "we preach Christ crucified," because we know that death has been overcome by Life forever.  He is risen and alive and we cannot just teach about Christ.  

I recently sat in a meeting held by local Catholic school officials.  Over and over again during a small group breakout session, I heard members of my group say that what sets Catholic schools apart are "Gospel values."  

That's nice...

...and that's it. 

Values sound nice, and make a person feel nice.  But, do they become action?  Values signify that something is important.  Is it important enough that it becomes part of your dynamism as a person - part of the very stuff of your being and your decision-making process.  Or, do these values remain in a nice abstract box, that you access in certain circles, various conversations, etc.  

I was introduced to a song by Jesus Culture that brings up the same point Bishop Clark makes.  The song is entitled "You Won't Relent," and the portion I'm speaking about says:

"I don't wanna talk about You
Like You're not in the room.
Wanna look right at You
Wanna speak right to You."  

Herein lies the difference.  Do we believe that Jesus is truly present?  That we can access Him?  That He is a part of life?  

Or, have we positioned Him on the fringe?  Is He added on?  A nice value?  

These are the sorts of questions an examination into the New Evangelization should provoke. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Distinction #1: The Soul Mate

We need to make some serious distinctions in order to tackle this question.  I will attempt to make these fairly quickly in a few blog posts. 

One of my professors in college (who knew his material so well that he would teach while watching the construction going on outside his window) always used to say, "You must always distinguish."  I like that advice.

I don't have a ton of time to research this project, so we'll use Wikipedia.  Here is the definition:

A soulmate ( or soul mate) is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity, similarity, love, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, or compatibility. A related concept is that of the twin flame or twin soul, which is thought to be the ultimate soulmate. In New Age spirituality, the ultimate soulmate is the one and only other half of one's soul. However, not everyone who uses these terms intends them to carry such mystical connotations.

We are each individual, unique, and unrepeatable beings.  Bottom line.  We each have our own body, our own soul, our own freedom, our own reason.  The New Age approach to this, that somebody else actually has the other half of our soul is not consistent with the Church's view of the human person as created by God as a whole person, with deep longings that ultimately find fulfillment in God - not another person.

Now, this is not to say that other people do not shape us or our lives.  We are not completely autonomous beings that are untouched or unmoved by the rest of society, friendships and intimate relationships.  But,others don't bring pieces of our souls to us, though they may help us realize elements of our being we had not discovered previously. 

That is the first distinction I'd like to make.  The second is a little simpler.

The idea of a "soul mate" is often popularly thought of in a sentimental light.  We want to move beyond the fairy tale feelings, and lovey-dovey stuff here.  This is more a change in the way of thinking as we approach the question at hand. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Such a thing as a soul mate?

Last week, ironically after watching an old episode of The Office on Netflix, my wife posed a really thought-provoking question:

-Do you think that soul mates exist?  Or, could you be happy with another person?

I realize this blog is aimed more toward teens...and majority of teens have not yet found their spouses.  But, a lot of teens think about "the future spouse."  Many teens are beginning to think about what characteristics they are looking for, how they want to be treated, etc.  Many teens see the generations preceding them dabbling with fornication, co-habitation, and a society saturated with divorce 

So, this question is more relevant to teens than the first glance might reveal.

I hope to take some time over the next week or so to offer some thoughts and answers to these questions.  If any of my readers have additional comments, please feel free to provide them.