When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he demonstrated to them a way of praying that was to paradigmatic of all Christian prayer - what we know as "The Lord's Prayer" or the "Our Father." Right in the middle of this prayer we find the words, "On earth as it is in heaven,” words which would serve as a measuring stick and guide for what his disciples were called to pursue.
Lunch with a friend changed everything for me. Ever since, the Kingdom has become the singular focus of attention for me. It has shifted the way I think about my relationship with God, the way I pray, the way I make decisions, and the way I approach ministry. If you are at all plugged in with the broader currents of Christianity in the U.S. (even if it's just the latest worship music) you have likely noticed an up-tick in how frequently the word "Kingdom" shows up. It's not a fad, it's what Jesus proclaimed. It's a big deal.
In my last post, I talked about developing a covenant mentality towards all, one where we more and more reflect the nature of a God who has the unique capacity to maintain actual covenant with an unlimited number of beings. But it's difficult to get a handle on what a covenant mentality really looks like in practice. If it's not going to be a vague, general sense of well-wishing for others we have to put a little more definition to it.
The heart of covenant is commitment to a person. It means favoring one person over another in a way that is perfectly acceptable and good. A father favors his own children over others' children in the investment of his time, attention, and resources. A husband likewise favors the relationship with his wife over other, secondary commitments. This favoring is necessary because of the limitations of our humanity.
One of the key features of Christian faith is the fact that God invites us into a covenant relationship with himself. What is a covenant? In short, a covenant is a radical commitment to a person, not to a set of behaviors.
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.
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?
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.
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.
If we focus on the mountain that didn't move, we'll take Jesus' words as a rebuke. But if we keep our attention on the mustard seed, we can step into a place where nothing is impossible, nothing is out of reach.
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.
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
Parishes cannot accomplish great things without great leadership. But a truly great parish also requires different kinds of leadership in order to grow into its full potential. I believe there are four key leadership needs for every parish: visionary leadership, team leadership, pastoral leadership, and managerial leadership.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Paul's letters in the New Testament are not his primary evangelism tool. They are not his first contact with the Romans, Galatians, etc. They are a follow-up to his in-person preaching of the Gospel in those places. So it is worth asking, based on these letters, "What would Paul's original preaching have to have been like?"
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.