Evangelization

Evangelization

By Tony G.

What is evangelization?  Evangelization comes from the Greek word “euangelion” which means to spread the good news.  In Roman times this word had a military connotation. It was used to describe the messenger who was sent by the emperor or a king to spread the good news of his military victory.  In the New Testament, St. Paul applied this military term to Christianity.  But instead of bringing the good news of a military victory by a king in this world, St. Paul brings us the good news of the ultimate victory of our Divine King, Jesus Christ, over sin and death, in the next world. Today evangelization means bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people and seeking their conversion through the divine power of the Gospel.   In the Gospel of Mark Jesus told his disciples, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole of creation.” Sometimes the greatest barrier to evangelization is ourselves, because we can’t give what we don’t have.  Like St. Paul, are you living the Good News? Do you demonstrate a zeal for the Lord? As you go about your day are people attracted to your joy?   I think we would all agree that our society is in a state of moral decline.  So what are you going to personally do about it? Do you hide your faith in public? Are you ashamed to mention God to your family and friends; and to your coworkers?  If so, pray to the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to boldly proclaim Christ to those around you.  Because we desperately need to bring God back to our society. That being said, evangelization doesn’t mean clubbing people over the head with a Bible. It can’t be forced on someone. In order to convince someone to start a personal relationship with Jesus, we need to first establish a personal relationship with them because people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Evangelization is about planting a seed of conversion in someone’s heart, then allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to take over. So we need to reach out and meet people where they are at–then gently guide them to Christ with patience and charity.  This could be a long and drawn out process.  But with persistence and prayer miracles do happen.   Let me leave you with one last thought.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” So I ask, are you living out the mandate of Jesus to go out and spread the Good News?  Who have you evangelized today in your words and deeds? For Saint Paul Street Evangelization of the Emerald Coast, I’m Tony G. Have a blessed day! 

Are You A Radical

Are You A Radical?

What is it to be radical?

In Bishop Charles J. Chaput’s book Strangers in a Strange Land, he remarks that the word radical comes from the Latin root and that radical ideas speak to the root nature of things. He goes on to compare todays “radicals” as not nearly radical enough- rather, they represent “… the familiar human appetite for power dressed up in progressive-left language. And (they) stand in sharp contrast to the kind of true radicalism demanded by a Christian life.”

Think about that for a moment. Think about how you are a radical and what it takes to follow Christ.

We live for the sanctifying grace of our Lord. We work every day towards actual grace to lead us closer to Him. We strive for and live a grace filled life.What does it mean to live a grace filled life?

Because of God’s grace, we have salvation. That grace is the greatest gift God gave us and second to that is freewill to love Him. To return that love, we have the ability of self-control over our sinful nature, which at times takes tremendous effort and brings us to our knees in humility. And this is where we find and live the graces of God. Grace is not something we can give or take away – obtain without Him- or give without Him. Yes, we can live a sanctified life- be gracious in our dealings- but we have no power over grace- just submission.

The epitome of grace in human form rests with Our Blessed Mother. Spend some time with her today in prayer.

-Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb- Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death- Amen.

A Failed Rescue – Or was it?

A Failed Rescue – Or was it?

Eric Witt

21 November 2020 is the 50th anniversary of Operation Ivory Coast

You may have heard of Operation Ivory Coast, the 1970 mission to rescue POWs from a prison camp in North Vietnam. The great men that put together and executed the bold plan came to be known as the “Son Tay Raiders,” after the name of the camp. The team came together and trained diligently for the mission with one thing in mind- free American servicemen from the tortures of a brutal regime. It was all or nothing for those Raiders and each would have given their life for the success of Operation Ivory Coast.

As the Raiders moved in on Son Tay in the dark of night, fully trained for whatever might come their way, they were stunned to find the camp empty. The prisoners were moved. The mission was a failure and as you can imagine, those involved were heartbroken. On the long trip home and for the months that followed, the Raiders talked about the failed attempt and their fear that it would result in even harsher treatment for the POWs. The despair sat heavy in their hearts as they watched the escalation of the war and then subsequent aftermath. It wasn’t until Operation Homecoming and the repatriation of POWs three years later that they learned of the true impact of their heroic efforts.

After the raid – and as the story played out in the media- it was very clear how much the people of the USA cared for the well-being of our soldiers. Despite the growing opposition to the war in America, people wore bracelets with the names of POWs and families pushed congressmen to take action. The NVA and their government clearly understood that what they were doing to our POWs gained international interest and they moved them to much more appropriate facilities and treated them with more dignity. After Operation Homecoming we learned from many of the POWs that conditions improved for them which directly attributed to them surviving the war. This was due in large part to the efforts of those brave Raiders. Those who have thought to have failed.

My family and friends- I want you to know that being a Catholic in these times can be difficult. We often see our efforts to bring love, truth and eternal salvation to others as fruitless, and like the Son Tay Raiders, that can leave us in despair. In fact, I often think that my efforts may have caused a bitterness in someone’s heart towards what it means to be an image of God. Instead of lifting them up towards the face of God, they turn instead to a world of relativism. Much like a commander of a military operation, I need to know the effects of my actions quickly and fully. But knowing the fullness of our actions does not work that way. It takes time- and we may never know while living on this earth what the impact of our words and living in God’s word has done for others. And it doesn’t matter.

Why doesn’t it matter?

Because, as Bishop Fulton Sheen once said “One can never love in a hurry.” I must understand that- and I must move forward in humility that I may not know what fruits I bare, rather know that God does the heavy lifting, I just train and execute. As we call it in the Air Force after a mission “BDA” (bomb damage assessment). For Catholics, that BDA may be slow in coming – and may never come this side of heaven, but it should never stop us from training and executing.

A final note as most of us these days may see what is going on in the world as a defeat of our values and all we hold dear in Christ. Please repost this quote if you want, but at least carry it in your heart as the country swells in anger. From Bishop Fulton Sheen:

“What makes our moment in history arduous is our failure to see the relation between things, so bent have we been on their disruption and destruction. But God never really abandons the world, though the world abandons Him. He can take those very elements of nature which turned against Him, and make them instruments of redemption”

And I always believe He will.

God Bless-

Go to mass

Pray.

Eric

Transubstantiation

Transubstantiation

By: Jerome of Navarre

As Catholics we know that the mystery of the Eucharist is called transubstantiation. That mystery occurs every day when the priest says the Eucharistic prayers consecrating the host. This prompts us as we kneel to gaze at the host in wonder. The host suddenly is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Jesus speaks to this miracle in Luke’s gospel when He says “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22: 15-16) Our savior goes on to break the bread and distribute it stating “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19).”

 

To explain this mystery, the Catholic Church uses the term transubstantiation. It is a term never uttered in the Bible; however it is the closest understanding we can have of this mystery. The Council of Trent, nearly 500 years ago sought to explain this by declaring:

“Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation (ccc1376).”

 

The Council went on to explain that under this transubstantiation of bread and wine “Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (ccc1413).” To bring the new and connect it to the old to fulfill the law, we need to understand that this all goes back the time God provided Manna for the Israelites in the dessert shown in Exodus 16:4. We can make the connection from the old to the new when Jesus feeds the five-thousand as told in Luke 9:16. While this is a connection to the miracle of feeding the hungry and giving them sustenance to carry forward, it is also an institution established of the sacrament of the Eucharist that sustains us spiritually and gives us eternal salvation. Without a doubt the apostles believed this.

 

In Acts we see Paul practicing the sacrament as he references “On the first day of the week, when we meet to break bread… (Act 20:7).” In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul challenges them, rhetorically asking about the blessed cup and bread “is it not the communion of the blood of Christ… is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? (1 Cor 10:16).” He went on to remind the Corinthians that Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist at the last supper (1 Cor 11:23). If we have any question at all about this real presence, or transubstantiation, I cannot think of any better reference than 1 Corinthians 11 27:29 when Saint Paul states unequivocally:

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.”

 

While we ponder Saint Paul’s words we harken back to the Gospel of John 6:53, where Jesus doubles down on the Eucharist and our call to partake, stating for a second time to His skeptics “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man an drink his blood you have no life in you.” That life, of course meant eternal life with God, the real life we are designed for. That is how important the Eucharist is to us. That mystery of transubstantiation, and the charge by God himself, is why it is at the center of our worship. The source and summit of our faith. For me, I deepen myself into the mystery every time I am in His presence

 

As I kneel and gaze the Eucharist in wonder and awe, I receive the gift of the Spirit. Looking closely I can see after the consecration, the thickness of the body of Christ in the host appear and thickens in depth and substance. As my gaze deepens into the host when the priest holds for all to see, the body of Christ appears as a thickness of flesh and blood (even with a red tint).  Then as the host is broken in half, a small corner broken off and added to the wine I reflect on the wedding at Cana account in John 2: 1-10. I see each of the pieces assume the real presence. The half piece is again broken in half and the new pieces are filled with total substance of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. After the priest lays down the host I continue to gaze even deeper while he consumes Christ and the reflection of the paten glistens on his face.  The reflection moves with the Host as the priest raises it towards his mouth and I can now see the fleshy depth in the appearance of a dark red tinted spot, the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

 

The other parts of the concentrated host then expand outward to assume the full substance of the piece of host and I know the body and blood of Christ is poured out for us.  The four parts of the host now suddenly are the living body and blood of Christ. The living bread touches each piece, transforms each host into the Body of Christ. This is the mystery explained for me. Transubstantiation explained for me. I recommend to all to reflect deeper on the mystery of transubstantiation. The word is big for sure, but its intent is to bring you deeper into the mystery, the source and summit.

 

Note: For more information on the Eucharist please see the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website where they answer the typical questions about the Eucharist in a straight forward way. See: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/order-of-mass/liturgy-of-the-eucharist/the-real-presence-of-jesus-christ-in-the-sacrament-of-the-eucharist-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm

 

Desire for God

Desire for God

Eric Witt

The longing. The pent up frustration and desire for love. The journey we take knowing something is not in line with who we are as humans and what we long for. King David felt this as all humans do and sums it up in Psalms chapter 42. David asks “why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you disquieted in me?” (Ps. 42:5). 

To many it is an unquenchable thirst proven in the theological virtue of hope that sends us on a journey to find God and what it means to be offered eternal salvation. It can be so overwhelming at times, this virtue of hope, that it drives us to our knees in deep contemplation.  It is exactly in this longing, this searching, and this questioning and dare I say, demand, that we are brought to a deeper realization of an eternal being, a creator and a love beyond earthly measure. Jesus Christ invites us to find hope in the Gospel of John stating “Come to Me all you who thirst…” (Jn. 7:37).

The catechism recognizes that we are religious beings with a craving for God, and in fact states that the “…desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God.” (ccc 27). This desire is seen throughout human history and expressed in various religious practices. As new worlds were being discovered in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, explorers were always amazed at how people, never exposed to Christianity, still had some form of worship for an unseen entity. It was shown to be a basic human desire in all communities. Indeed, to be human is to search for God.

You can find this thirsting in the story of almost every saint. I would argue that you can find this even in every person. However, in today’s culture we are only moved by big dramatic events in our lives.

We wait for something to force us to deal with this thirst. We want a story, something to witness that is so overwhelming we can’t help but go to God.  But let’s get real here. The journey to God takes action on our part. We have to ask ourselves if we truly want truth, happiness and love. We do not have to wait for that. We just have to act. We have to deal with it in a real way.  Get Real and God Bless

Manifesto of Faith

Manifesto of Faith

This directly addresses (in my opinion) the faith relevancy discussion going on in many circles today. It explains the one True faith plainly and directly. Good source to understand our Catholic faith. He begins by stating:

In the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith, many bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the Catholic Church have requested that I make a public testimony about the truth of revelation. It is the shepherds’ very own task to guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation. This can only succeed if they know this way and follow it themselves. The words of the Apostle here apply: “For above all I have delivered unto you what I have received” (1 Cor. 15:3). Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith, so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life. However, it remains the very purpose of the Church to lead humanity to Jesus Christ, the light of the nations (see LG 1). In this situation, the question of orientation arises. According to John Paul II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “safe standard for the doctrine of the faith” (​Fidei Depositum IV). It was written with the aim of strengthening the Faith of the brothers and sisters whose belief has been massively questioned by the “dictatorship of relativism.”