Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

9/26/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Catholic Church needs conversion at every level. Many Catholics do not know what their Church teaches

From the very beginning of the Church, the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops had the primary task of teaching the faithful so that they could fully live the Christian faith and give it away to others. The Church has always been blessed with good teaching Bishops, especially at critical times in her history.  We are living in just such a time.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/26/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Church, ecclesiology, marriage, family, cafeteria Catholicism, Archbishop John J. Myers, Newark, Donald Cardinal Wuerl., Washington, New Evangelization, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - From the very beginning of the Church, the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops had the primary task of teaching the faithful so that they could fully live the Christian faith and give it away to others. The Church has always been blessed with good teaching Bishops, especially at critical times in her history.  We are living in just such a time.

Some of the most profound teaching on the Christian Faith and way of life is found in the Apostolic Fathers. We have letters which circulated from the first few centuries written by giants like Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch. We also have sets of instructions and catechetical teaching to the early church such as the Didache (the Teaching of the Twelve). 

In fact, the word encyclical means circulating letter. We now attach the word mostly to the most authoritative teaching in the letters from the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. However, it is derived from the way those letters from the early church bishops were passed to believers. They were circulated.

Throughout Church history the teaching and pastoral letters from Bishops have helped the faithful of the Church to mature in their faith, apply that faith to their daily lives and grow in their capacity to influence their age and progress in holiness. So it can be - so it must be - in our own day.

Those who read my writing know that I call attention to the wonderful Bishops we have in the Church. There are more being raised up daily by this great Pope.  Today I want to pass along two great examples of teaching Bishops. I will be following up with many more.

I recommend that our readers take the time to read, study, pray through and incorporate two recent letters from two great Bishops into their lives. Though written to their own flock, these letters should be circulated as such letters were in the early Church.

The first letter is from the Most Rev. John J. Myers, the Archbishop of Newark. It is entitled "When Two Become One: A Pastoral Teaching on the Definition, Purpose and Sanctity of Marriage." Please click the live link and download this tremendous instruction.

Send it around to those whom you care about. Make it known to your priests, deacons and lay leaders. Republish it in the blogosphere. Use it in your study groups and prayer groups. In an age when marriage - and the family and society founded upon it - are under ferocious assault, the Archbishop of Newark gives one of the clearest presentations on marriage I have read in a beautifully written, readable 16 page letter!

He writes, "This pastoral reflection is offered to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Newark to help them form their consciences, discern their vocations and, for the married, fulfill their vows. It is also offered to other men and women of good will-of every faith-who join us in the sincere hope of seeing family life flourish in northern New Jersey and throughout our state and our nation."

"Because God loves and cares for us, He has revealed to us the nature, purposes, and meaning of marriage. This revelation is recorded in sacred Scripture and Tradition; it is safeguarded and faithfully developed by the Magisterium, the teaching office of the Church. This gives Catholics the assurance of faith in the Church's firm teaching on the nature of marriage."

"But marriage is also part of God's creative plan and can be known through reason, unaided by revelation. The truth about marriage is, in other words, part of the natural law. This pastoral letter will therefore consider marriage from the perspective of reason as well as revelation."
The second letter is written by the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, DC, His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl. It is a Pastoral Letter on the Church entitled "The Church, Our Spiritual Home."

This letter opens up the fullness of Catholic Ecclesiology (the theology of the Church) in an accessible, profoundly spiritual and inspiring letter format. It will change your life by helping you to comprehend the deeper meaning of living in the Church. Once again, download it and circulate it. Study it, pray over and give it away to everyone whom you truly care about.

Cardinal Wuerl is an extraordinary teacher.  Here are a few "tidbits" to whet your appetite for this wonderful letter. "My purpose in writing you this letter is to reflect on what we mean by the Church, the Body of Christ. The Church is not an abstraction or a mere human institution. The new Body of Christ is made up of all the members of the family of faith who are blessed with the gifts of the Spirit and are united as one body around the Apostles and their successors, with Christ as its head."

"The answer to the question, "Why should I be a member of the Catholic Church?" follows on the response to the question "What is the Catholic Church?" The short answer to these questions is that the Catholic Church is the continuing presence of Jesus Christ in the world - in our day and time. The Church is the Body of Christ. This revealed teaching is not metaphorical language. Nor is it just a figurative way of speaking about the Church. Sacred Scripture holds up the Body of Christ for our creedal profession in a very real, literal sense. We will examine the identity of Christ with his Church as we move through these reflections."

"Again, the simplest answer to the question, "What is the Catholic Church?" is that the Church is the presence of Christ in the world today. The Church is variously described in the pages of Sacred Scripture as the Body of Christ and as the beginning of the kingdom of God on earth."

I am what is now routinely called a 'revert" to the Church. Though raised as a Catholic, I fell away from the practice of the ancient faith. My teenage search for truth finally led me home.
The route was circuitous. Among the places it led was my reading the "fathers" (early leaders) of the first centuries of the Church. In ancient Christian writings I discovered how the early Christians viewed their participation in the Church as integral to their belonging to Jesus Christ. The Church is fundamentally relational.

The Church is God's plan for every culture and for the entire world. We live in the Church. We may leave our buildings after Liturgy but we never leave our communion with the Lord and, in Him, with one another for the sake of the world. The early Fathers called her the "world reconciled". In its treatment of the Church, the Catechism explains: 

"To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood." (CCC#845)

The Catholic Church needs conversion at every level. Many Catholics do not know what their Church teaches. Some embrace a "cafeteria Catholicism"- choosing what parts of the faith they will follow. A pervasive and practical atheism has had a corrosive effect, evident in those who claim the title Christian and profess the ancient Christian Creed at Mass but fail to live it during the rest of the week.

How many Catholics understand the full implications of their own Baptism? How many understand what the Church teaches?  How many experience the Church as a "mother", or live their lives in the Church as a "communion"? How many have come to perceive the Church as "Some - One" rather than some-thing?

Yet, it is this kind of living faith which is needed. Is it supposed to only be the experience of the "mystics", the talk of the Saints and Fathers? Or, is it supposed to be the truly common experience of every Christian? The answer is clear; it is to be the common experience of all Christians.

It is interesting that both of these letters were released on September 14, 2012, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. That is no accident. The Cross will triumph in our own age as the Church is awakened to proclaim its full meaning in word and in deed.

We live in a new missionary age. For the Church to accomplish her mission she needs a fully converted and well formed clergy, religious and lay faithful who, as the fruit of the New Evangelization, joyfully  their place in the work. What a treasure we have in great teaching Bishops who send us such letters in this critical hour.   They are setting the pace. We should pray for them and be fed by their ministry.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

Pope Francis names Bishop Blasť Cupich to replace ailing Chicago Archbishop Watch

Image of Ill from liver cancer, Cardinal George said at a news conference in Chicago that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has chosen Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich as Chicago's new archbishop. The ailing Cardinal Francis George welcomed his pending retirement after his 17 years of service, with only the highest praise for his successor. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


World population could hit 11 billion by 2100 new study reveals Watch

Image of Africa will see the largest population boom, going from 1 billion to 4 billion by the century's end. Asia will also likely rise a bit, but will peak at 5 billion by 2050 and decline.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A United Nations-led analysis published on September 18 has revealed that the world's population may reach 11 billion by 2100, which would mean two billion more people than previously expected, largely due to high birth rates in Africa. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


As death toll passes 2,600 U.S. lawmakers worry about spread of Ebola Watch

Image of Red Cross workers in Guinea in protective gear. Currently, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are the worst nations worst hit by the West African Ebola outbreak.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Legislators in Washington are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of Ebola and worry that it could become more contagious and potentially spread into the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - President Obama's new plan to put 3,000 U.S. ... continue reading


Obama gains support from House to further fight against ISIS Watch

Image of President Obama, with the support of the House of Representatives, may now start arming and training Syrian groups to fight the Islamic State, and will continue to strike targets in Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Barack Obama told Americans-in somewhat ambiguous terms-last week that he intended to destroy the Islamic State, as of September 17, he promised that the United States will not fight another ground war in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Values Voters: What We Can Learn from Ted Cruz Being Booed at the In Defense of Christians Conference Watch

Image of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a Gala Solidarity Dinner. Sadly, it certainly did not demonstrate solidarity between Christians. A small group in the assembly, rudely and loudly, reacted negatively to some of the words Senator Cruz spoke as he expressed his convictions concerning the persecution taking place in this land which is properly holy, precisely because of its role in God's loving plan of salvation for the whole human race.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The events of Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Inaugural In Defense of Christians Gala make abundantly clear that there is a serious and urgent need for values voters to meet and discuss the crisis in the Mideast and ways in which we can work together to ... continue reading


Our Age Need Rebels of Love: The Christian Church is the Real Counterculture Watch

Image of As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. As I studied the early Church fathers I came to understand that the true humanism is authentic Christianity, the kind professed, in word and deed, by the early Christians. As I read early Church history I was brought back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church. I came to believe that she offers the theological anthropology, ecclesiology and world view of the early fathers of the Church. I also came to believe that she was the real counterculture.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We can - we will - change the culture of the contemporary West, if we are willing to suffer, struggle and offer ourselves to the Lord for the task. His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, working through us, will accomplish what we can never accomplish on our ... continue reading


What is a Catholic Deacon? Bishop Kevin Rhoades Gives the Answer Watch

Image of The Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, presiding over the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate of six new Holy Cross Deacons

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

It is a privilege to ordain you permanent deacons.  No, I didn't make a mistake.  Don't worry: you are scheduled to be ordained priests next year by Bishop Jenky!  But what happens today in the sacrament of Orders is not something transitional; it ... continue reading


ISIS among us! New York man sought to kill Iraq war veterans Watch

Image of Mufid Elfgeeh, a 30-year-old, Yemeni born man who lived in New York, attempted to send three people to Iraq to fight for the Islamic State, and purchase firearms to kill veterans from the Iraq War.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni born food store owner in upstate New York sent funding to the Islamic State and attempted to sent three jihadists to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist cell while plotting to perpetrate attacks against American troops who had served in Iraq. LOS ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone: 16433 Children Buried in One Grave Watch

Image of Fr. Pavone prays at the graveside of the children

By Fr. Frank Pavone

For many years, this mass grave had no marker or headstone, just as the children have no names. But now there is a stone, and we are going to name the babies. Supporters of abortion do not want people to see mass graves in our midst. It's too disturbing a ... continue reading


Nice try! Democrats try to distance themselves from Obama for midterm, but it's too late! Watch

Image of Kentucky Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, seen here with a shotgun in an ad where she attempts to distance herself from the disastrous and unpopular policies of President Barack Obama.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Democratic Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, is trying her best to let Kentuckians know that she is certainly not an Obama Democrat, releasing a campaign ad where she wields a gun to prove it. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grimes' 30-second ad takes place in ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Proverbs 3:27-34
27 Refuse no kindness to those who have a right to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
2 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly, who ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:16-18
16 'No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Thomas of Villanueva
September 22: Augustinian bishop. Born at Fuentellana, Castile, Spain, he was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter