“The Catholic Question” from Darren Wilson's "Adventures with God"

Guest post: Fr. Anthony Co. I often think about how I don’t know what I don’t know. And this concerns me. So I pray: “Jesus, I know you are filled with surprises…surprise me with more of you.” Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Darren Wilson, a man who urgently prays the same thing.

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Back to Basics

Imagine that tomorrow you wake up and all of our church buildings are gone. And not only the churches, but all of the parish offices, Catholic schools, and so on, along with everything inside of them. Every physical resource vanished, and every person who works for the Church left with nothing beyond what the average American possesses. If you were tasked with advancing the evangelizing mission of the Church in your region and this was your starting point, how would you go about it?

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Why Forgiveness Is Not the Same as Reconciliation

The summons to forgive is an intrinsic part of the Christian life. But recently it occurred to me that there is an important difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. If we don't account for this difference, then the practice of forgiving "seventy times seven times" becomes onerous rather than life-giving, and at worst it can even lead someone to dangerously ignore the need for healthy boundaries. The fundamental difference between forgiveness and reconciliation is that it takes one to forgive, but two to reconcile. 

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Explorations in Worship

The experience of communal worship has become an increasingly integral part of our approach to ministry in the last couple of years. We have found this to be a powerful way of teaching people how to pray, and of providing a space for them to encounter the Lord in a personal way.This summer we held a six-week series that we called Worship Nights. Having wrapped up that event, I wanted to take a look back and share some reflections on the fruits that came from it.

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The Fruits of the Kerygma

When we talk about the kerygma, I think that there are three aspects of it that we need to understand. In the first place, there is the message that makes up the content of the kerygmatic proclamation. Second, this proclamation is intended to produce a particular response on the part of the hearer. Finally, when this message is met with its intended response, we can expect to see certain fruits in that person's life.

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The Path to Unity

I had the privilege recently to participate in Azusa Now, a massive gathering of Christians who came together to pray for unity and for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our day. In honor of this day and the many beautiful expressions of reconciliation that took place at Azusa Now, I wanted to take a look at the topic of Christian unity and what it looks like to pursue this end which weighed heavily on the heart of Christ, even on the eve of his impending crucifixion and death

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Against the Charge of Evangelical "Emotionalism"

Catholic culture leans heavily towards traditionally left-brain traits that value fact, analysis, and structure. By contrast, large segments of the Evangelical world that have embraced more right-brain, relational approaches to ministry are seeing significantly better results in the areas of evangelism and discipleship. Despite the evidence, many Catholics remain resistant to the idea of adopting Evangelical approaches or learning from their methods.

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The Parish as School of Evangelization

What is we looked at the parish as a school of evangelization that focuses on training her members to evangelize outside of parish walls? There are two main objections that come to mind in this regard. First, the parish has always been a provider of pastoral care for her members. Would the focus on becoming a school of evangelization mean setting aside the valuable pastoral care our parishes provide? Second, many might object that a great number of parishioners need much more foundational formation themselves before they would be ready to be trained in evangelization. Sure, we need to do some evangelization training, but isn't it unrealistic to think that we could make that the central focus?

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What Is a Parish?

Though the parochial system has been a mainstay of Catholic culture for centuries, it remains but an optional approach to governance in the Church. That is to say, there is nothing doctrinal or dogmatic about the role of a parish, and so it is a legitimate question to ask in any age, "What is the purpose of a parish today?" The way we answer this question today may be different than in times past. 

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Lifecycle of a Revolutionary Idea

Many readers will be familiar with the technology adoption lifecycle that describes the standard pattern of acceptance of a new, innovative technology among the general public. I believe a similar lifecycle exists within the realm of revolutionary ideas that helps us understand how a revolutionary idea gains influence, and how that influence can be so easily lost if not stewarded appropriately.

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What People Care About

There is a maxim of evangelization that I have often heard and used over the years that goes, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." The saying is helpful as far as it goes, as it points would-be evangelizers to the necessity of building a relationship of trust with others through kindness and love before bombarding them with information. But there's still a bit of a false premise hidden in the statement.

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Pursuing Victory

I had one goal when starting out this series of posts - to end the Catholic love affair with suffering, at least in the minds of some. In this final post (4/4), I want to focus on how to live a victorious Christian lifestyle. This is not a formula - all of this must flow out of a living, breathing relationship with Christ - but is meant to provide certain guideposts for pursuing the victory that Jesus has already won and wishes to extend to us.

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Suffering: Part of God's Plan?

Go ahead and re-read the Gospels. Keep a tally if you want. See how much it portrays the triumph of Christ over what afflicts man, over what steals, kills, and destroys in man's life, versus how much it talks about the need to embrace suffering in our life. (Post 3/4 on suffering.)

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What I'm Reading: Blink

Malcolm Gladwell's Blink is a book about snap judgments, why they are sometimes better than our reasoned-out deliberations, sometimes worse, and how to identify which is which. It provides insights and challenges with implications on ministry and life.

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Talk: Inviting the Act of Faith

I was honored recently to be invited by the Youth Apostles community to speak at one of their regular formation nights.  The invitation was extended based on a series of posts I wrote on Inviting the Act of Faith, which was an exploration on my part of how we can invite people to make an explicit decision for Christ in a Catholic context.  The talk I presented, which can be viewed on Youtube below, was a summary of that series with practical pointers for how to put it into practice. 

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The Clash of Two Kingdoms

Jesus instructed his disciples, "As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons" (Mt 10:7-8).  The declaration that the kingdom of heaven is at hand was meant to serve as an eviction notice to the kingdom of darkness - your time is up, it's time to move out! (Post 2/4 on suffering.)

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