Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rome is Where the Heart is - Part I of II

This is Part I of II of the presentation I gave at the 23rd Flame Ministries International Annual Congress.

I will be posting a transcript of the presentation later in the week.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Habemus Retiree!

My first memory of Pope Benedict XVI; being introduced to the world.
As you may have heard or read by now, Pope Benedict XVI has announced his retirement. He will officially retire at the end of this month, at 8pm on February 28.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me."

The last time a pope retired was in 1415 (Pope Gregory XII) so as you can see a pope retiring is kind of a big deal. Often a pope will see out their ministry until natural death. On the rare occasion a pope may be forcibly removed from office.

It's news that will sadden many Catholics around the world, myself included, because we remember when we heard the name of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger being announced over St. Peter's Square in April, 2005, 17 days after the death of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Pope Benedict was man of great intellect, an avid writer, and a man with the heart of shepherd tending to his flock. He has certainly left his mark on the Church and will leave behind a great legacy.

Catholics should take solace in the fact that Pope Benedict XVI will no doubt be present at the next conclave to be convened in March and whose voice will carry great weight in deciding whom will next sit in the chair of St. Peter. Whoever the next pope will be, he will be welcomed warmly by the world and embraced and celebrated at this year's World Youth Day in Rio de Janerio.

We are witnessing history once again, folks! It will once again be an exciting time to be a Catholic and we all eagerly anticipate those words to be heard [hopefully in March]: "Habemus Papam!" ("We have a Pope!").

Friday, February 08, 2013

Quick Thought: The difference between Evangelisation and Proselytising

How do you win hearts for Christ without anyone feeling like you’re cramming religion down their throat? It’s a fair question to ask and the same could be asked of evangelizers on the street, in the work place, or even within their own families. How do you strike the right chord with those you meet on the street, in the work place, or even those within your family? The key is knowing the difference between genuine evangelization and proselytising. 

Cardinal Francis Arinze defined proselytizing in a 2009 article (http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=15728) this way: “[proselytism] seeks to influence people to embrace a certain religion by means that exploit their weak position or put some other pressure on them”. 

Can. 748 §2 It is never lawful for anyone to force others to embrace the Catholic faith against their conscience. 

While Christ - on whom we should model our evangelisation efforts on – challenged those who were curious, questioned, and were looking for the way to eternal life, He remembered who he was speaking to and met them where they were at, i.e. he considered their human dignity and their individuality. The way you speak to your siblings about the Catholic faith will be different to the way you speak to a stranger about the Catholic faith. 

Each person has their own story, their own context. Genuine evangelisation seeks to acknowledge and embrace that story and context whereas proselytism contorts and manipulates the individual to a level of intellectual malleability. Proselytism does not permit a genuine act of the free will of the individual to turn to Christ and follow willingly. 

“in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence – 1 Peter 3:15 

Evangelisation invites, as Christ would, “Come, follow me”.