Monday, August 13, 2012

Still Here, Still Proclaiming Jesus

When Jesus stopped being dead, the eleven surviving disciples were very impressed. I think that helps explain why they were so enthusiastic about carrying out my Lord's orders:
"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore,12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' "
(Matthew 28:18-20)
Two millennia later, those orders haven't changed. We're still expected to pass along the news that the Son of God was here: lived, taught, died for our sins, rose, and lives forever.
"The transmission of the Christian faith consists primarily in proclaiming Jesus Christ in order to lead others to faith in him...."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 425)
That's "lead others to faith," not 'pester them until they come to a meeting.' And that's almost another topic.

I think parents have one of the very important jobs involving "transmission of the Christian faith." Passing the facts along to the next generation is necessary. So is letting the kids know that those facts mean something. I've said this before: kids don't learn faith, they catch it.

Threatening the Status Quo for Two Thousand Years

"Status Quo?" Isn't the Catholic Church an outfit that's dedicated to keeping things just the way they are?

Sort of. The Catholic Church doesn't look at what's trending with key demographic segments or focus groups, and use that to decide which part of the Decalogue we're supposed to observe this year.

We're stuck with ideas like 'love God, love your neighbor,' and 'everyone's my neighbor.' (August 9, 2012)

Worse, from the point of view of folks who like things the way they are, we're supposed to act as if those principles matter. Sometimes that means upsetting apple carts. (March 5, 2012, March 14, 2012)

Tithing, Land, and Image

For while there, from somewhere in the feudal era of Europe to a few centuries back, the Church was the biggest landowner in Europe. At the time, Europe's warlords didn't use money, so when they tithed, donated property to the Church, which we're all supposed to do, they often gave land. After a few centuries, that sort of thing adds up.

What emerged was an economic and political system that made rising in the hierarchy the sort of upwardly-mobile career move that's equivalent to climbing today's corporate ladder - with the Pope where we've got CEOs.

I think that was bad for the Church. It's a wonder we survived, and I'll get back to that.

I suspect that part of the Church's reputation in my culture for being a sort of melodrama villain (remember Little Nell and Carlton Bainbridge?) comes from America's start as a set of English colonies. I've discussed fallout from Henry VIII's innovative approach to marriage before. (March 7, 2012)

Before I became a Catholic, I learned that quite a bit that I 'knew' about the Church was either wrong, or centuries out of date. And that's another topic.

Conflict and Obedience

I'm in a somewhat awkward position. I'm an American citizen, and a practicing Catholic.

I think all human beings are people. I also think that it's wrong to kill an innocent person. Even if it's legal and socially acceptable. (January 20, 2012)

My attitude toward murder puts me at odds with the national government. (June 24, 2012) Still, it could be worse: and has been. Peter and the other disciples had a number of run-ins with established authorities:
"Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.

"It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.' "
(Acts 4:19-20)
I'd rather not be caught in a situation where I either defy a local or even national authority, or God. But, on the whole, siding with God seems to make sense. Particularly in the long run.

"Want to Leave?" Not Much of a Choice

Nobody's forcing me to stay with the Church. I can stop being Catholic any time I want.

It's my considered opinion that leaving the Church is a daft idea: but I've got free will, so in principle I could jump ship. It's extremely unlikely that I'll abandon the outfit my Lord founded, though. I agree with Peter:
"Jesus then said to the Twelve, 'Do you also want to leave?'

"Simon Peter answered him, 'Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

"We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.' "
(John 6:67-69)

Two Millennia: And Still Here

The authority my Lord gave Peter has been passed down, from one Pope to the next, for about two millennia. (April 1, 2012) That's an incredibly long time for an institution to last.

Like I've said before, the simplest explanation for the Church's improbable survival is what we've been claiming all along: God's holding us up. (January 13, 2011)

Getting back to "the transmission of the Christian faith," I was going to write more about evangelization. This post is already long, though, so I'll list some of what I've done before under "Related posts - Evangelization," and leave it at that for now.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.