By Members of Our Lady's Warriors
Commentary Copyright 1999 by Our Lady's Warriors. All Rights Reserved.
Note: Watch words and phrases are underlined; commentary is presented following Renew 2000 text.
(cartoon of six people with outstretched hands captioned "I FIND GOD IN OTHER PEOPLE")
Begin with a few minutes of quiet reflection and prayer.
Loving God and Father, you created us as members of the one human family. Through our Baptism, we become your beloved daughters and sons, loving sisters and brothers to Christ and each other. Help us to accept our Baptismal call to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
You have called each of us by name and given us through our Baptism a mission to holiness. Give us the wisdom to know your specific vocation for us and for our children. May we always live in a spirit of faithful service and bear much fruit. We ask this in Jesus' name and in the power of your Spirit. Amen!
Share how you lived out your faith during the previous week. Share in particular any magazine or newspaper articles, news reports, etc., that either express the Good News or point to society's need for the Good News.
All Christians are called to evangelize, that is, to bring the Good News of salvation into all areas of society. What does it mean to preach the Good News today? Preaching in the context of the liturgy of the Church is a specific office and function of priests and deacons. Each of us, however, "preaches" in another sense as we live out our specific call to holiness in the Christian community.
Take a few minutes to read the following silently or aloud.
Although "preaching" in the Church is a specific office and function of priests and deacons, each of us "preaches" in another sense. There are so many ways that we can preach or proclaim the Good News in today's world. We preach by our words, by our behavior, by our values, by our music, by our art, by our very lives. We echo in our lives the essential mission of the Church to evangelize. Sometimes, perhaps, we preach more with our lives than with our words. Francis of Assisi reminded his followers that they were to preach the Gospel using words "only as necessary."
We witness to the Good News through our vocation, which is both a grace and a mission. Through God's grace, we are strengthened to remain faithful to our vocation and come to salvation in Christ Jesus. We each have a unique mission to share the Good News according to our particular calling. Vatican II teaches us that, through Baptism, every Christian has a personal vocation to holiness and has been given the mandate to participate in the mission of Jesus, that is, to proclaim the Good News. As baptized Christians, we are called to proclaim the Good News that the Father loves us, that Jesus has liberated us and that the Holy Spirit sustains and comforts us. It is in responding to the call of our vocation that we are freed to become the most loving human beings possible.
We proclaim the Good News in diverse ways. Some are designated to preach the Good News in sermons. Preaching sermons is a very significant means of evangelization and can help people immensely in their spiritual growth. Priests and deacons (and, on certain occasions, other delegated preachers) have both a wonderful opportunity and a serious responsibility to carry the Good News to today's world. Certainly the gift of their preaching can inspire many to a more spiritual way of life. Preachers call others to faith through proclaiming the Word of God.
Not only designated preachers, but all Christians are called to proclaim their faith and belief in the power of God to transform the world or-as is suggested in the Jewish tradition-to repair the world. Pope John Paul II in his 1996 World Day for Vocations message reminded us: "The Christian vocation, a gift of God, is the heritage of all. Whether married or single, ordained priest or religious, all are chosen by God to proclaim the Gospel and to communicate salvation; not alone, however, but in the Church and with the Church." Whether nurses or teachers, plumbers or computer analysts, carpenters or police officers-we all are evangelizers called to proclaim the Word of God in our everyday lives.
As Christian believers, members of the community of faith, we are responsible to support particular vocations: vocations to marriage, to the single life, to priesthood and religious life, to the work of the missions and to the contemplative life. Commitment to these specific vocations can be very difficult today unless individuals are encouraged and sustained by a loving, joyful Christian community. As Catholics, we have, in fact, two sacraments-the sacrament of Matrimony and the sacrament of Holy Orders-that are directed toward the service and salvation of others (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1534).
With 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, priests and religious declining in number and the single life sometimes seen as only "temporary," young people (and sometimes not so young people) need strong support and encouragement to respond to God's call for their specific vocation.
The United States Bishops' Committee on Vocations in its document A Future Full of Hope has outlined the importance of the entire Christian community coming together to pray for, invite, promote and engage in the efforts to create vocation awareness as well as to encourage members of the Christian community to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. The entire Christian community is to be an "inviter" since such privilege and responsibility belong to each of us. This truly is preaching the Good News as we help young people reflect on their vocations.
Take a few moments of silence to reflect on the following questions. Then share your reflections.
Read Romans 8:38-39 and Matthew 5:13-16.
Pause for a few moments of quiet reflection to ponder the Word of God.
Take a few minutes to read the following reflection silently or aloud.
What was it that Paul and Matthew knew so deeply when they wrote these words? They knew that they had to proclaim the Word they had received to everyone who would listen, to the very world in which they lived. They were so alive themselves, so filled with the power of the Spirit of Jesus, that they had to preach it in Word and action. They knew that they were to be a light for the world. Over the past three weeks, we have been reflecting on personal evangelization. In this session, we focus on the ways that we can be light for our culture.
Information and communication are essential components of our society. One of the primary ways in which we communicate is through the media-which affects attitudes and provides many of the messages for our lives. Think of some key moments in which media has affected our lives. Depending upon our age, some of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated or when the Challenger spacecraft blew up. Many of us probably remember where we were and how we reacted when the O. J. Simpson verdict was announced or when we heard the sad news of Princess Diana's tragic death. How many of us are able to repeat the advertisements that we heard at last year's Super Bowl? Television deeply affects our lives. The research of the Donovan Group of Annapolis shows that, in the media, we are influenced 55 percent by what or whom we see, 38 percent by what we hear and only 7 percent by the actual words of the message.
The media provides almost instantaneous global information that comes into our homes through newspapers, radio, television and the internet. The media can be a great resource for sharing the Good News, but it also can be a negative force in society--glorifying violence, trivializing sex and popularizing values of self-centeredness and despair. Modern technology has given us a wonderful gift in the media, but don't we also wonder, "Where is it all going?" How can we teach our children solid Christian values when so much of what they see on television goes against them?
How can we become involved in using the media for evangelization? We can begin with prayer for guidance in the use of the media. We can become better informed on what the media is doing to patrol itself, what government actions are being taken to control it and what private groups are doing to protect family values. Furthermore, we can join others who support our values and work with them to lobby the Federal Communications Commission on programming and request that local stations abide by the Children's Television Acts of 1990 and 1996. We can become involved in educating families and the community about media, and we can encourage dialogue with media executives. We can do simple things, such as share our opinions by writing to the networks, program producers or newspapers. We can always help challenge the media by communicating our moral values and by taking action that protects those values.
How often we have heard the adage, "One person can make a difference." Certainly, in our struggle to balance free speech with moral values, we can preach the Good News of God's love through supporting and challenging the messages that we receive each day through the media. Each of us can make a difference. Reread Matthew 5:13-16.
Take a few moments of silence to reflect on the following questions. Then share your reflections.
No sharing would be complete without a commitment to putting our faith into practice. As you reflected on God's Word and shared insights with others in your small community, you were open to the grace of God. What is the specific action God is inviting you to take to change your own life or to respond to someone else's need? Choose a specific, concrete action that flows from your sharing. The examples below are given only as ideas to generate a creative response .
If you wish to do so, share your commitment with others in your small community.
As a small community, try to learn more about vocations to the priesthood and religious life and what you might do to encourage them. Contact your local (arch) diocesan Vocations Office for information. Also consider contacting some form of the media to suggest more value-based programming.
Offer spontaneous prayers of petition, thanksgiving and praise. Pray especially in petition and gratitude for the gift of vocation.
Close with the Hail Mary.
Please read and reflect on the upcoming session, Christians Coming Together, before the next meeting so that you can come prepared to listen and share.
This week is primarily one of what is not said, i.e. the problems of omission and lack of clarity (causing confusion).
Excerpts from Renew 2000 text are presented in italics.
Each of us, however, "preaches" in another sense as we live out our specific call to holiness in the Christian community.
There are so many ways that we can preach or proclaim the Good News in today's world.
Some are designated to preach the Good News in sermons.
Not only designated preachers, but all Christians are called to proclaim their faith and belief in the power of God ...
Preaching is a specific responsibility of Priests, Bishops and Deacons, i.e. those men having obtained the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Renew 2000 usurps and confuses the role of the laity with the clergy. This is consistent with modernists who want any person to be able to do any "function" in the Church (e.g. the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church). Canon Law starting at number 762 contains the specific rules for preaching. A short summary follows, as well as the CCC teaching:
Can. 762 The people of God are first united through the word of the living God, and are fully entitled to seek this word from their priests. For this reason sacred ministers are to consider the office of preaching as of great importance, since proclaiming the Gospel of God to all is among their principal duties.
Can. 767 ß1 The most important form of preaching is the homily, which is part of the liturgy, and is reserved to a priest or deacon. In the course of the liturgical year, the mysteries of faith and the rules of Christian living are to be expounded in the homily from the sacred text.
Can. 768 ß1 Those who announce the word of God to Christ's faithful are first and foremost to set out those things which it is necessary to believe and to practise for the glory of God and the salvation of all.
Can. 768 ß2 They are also to explain to the faithful the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church concerning the dignity and freedom of the human person; the unity, stability and duties of the family; people's social obligations and the ordering of temporal affairs according to the plan established by God.
CCC #1086 "Accordingly, just as Christ was sent by the Father so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This he did so that they might preach the Gospel to every creature and proclaim that the Son of God by his death and resurrection had freed us from the power of Satan and from death and brought us into the Kingdom of his Father. But he also willed that the work of salvation which they preached should be set in train through the sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves." [see Vatican II Sacrosanct Concilium on the Sacred Liturgy]
CCC #875 "How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?" [Rom 10:14-15] No one - no individual and no community - can proclaim the Gospel to himself: "Faith comes from what is heard." [Rom 10:17] No one can give himself the mandate and the mission to proclaim the Gospel. The one sent by the Lord does not speak and act on his own authority, but by virtue of Christ's authority; not as a member of the community, but speaking to it in the name of Christ. No one can bestow grace on himself; it must be given and offered. This fact presupposes ministers of grace, authorized and empowered by Christ. From him, they receive the mission and faculty ("the sacred power") to act in persona Christi Capitis. The ministry in which Christ's emissaries do and give by God's grace what they cannot do and give by their own powers, is called a "sacrament" by the Church's tradition. Indeed, the ministry of the Church is conferred by a special sacrament.
It would be quite simple to say that the laity can proclaim or live the Gospel; why create confusion by hinting that the laity are preachers? Why say that "some are designated" rather than clearly stating the Church's teaching by using the word Priest?
What was it that Paul and Matthew knew so deeply when they wrote these words?
First, why aren't the normal Church titles of St. Paul and St. Matthew used? Why such a lack of respect?
Secondly, the words of the Gospel are not obtained from what even Saints knew, but rather were inspired by the Holy Spirit, God Himself. Vatican II Dei Verbum explains:
#11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him  they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them,  they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. 
- cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chap. 2 "On Revelation:" Denzinger 1787 (3006); Biblical Commission, Decree of June 18,1915: Denzinger 2180 (3629): EB 420; Holy Office, Epistle of Dec. 22, 1923: EB 499.
- cf. Pius XII, encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu," Sept. 30, 1943: A.A.S. 35 (1943) p. 314; Enchiridion Bible. (EB) 556.
- "In" and "for" man: cf. Heb. 1, and 4, 7; ("in"): 2 Sm. 23,2; Matt.1:22 and various places; ("for"): First Vatican Council, Schema on Catholic Doctrine, note 9: Coll. Lac. VII, 522.
- Leo XIII, encyclical "Providentissimus Deus," Nov. 18, 1893: Denzinger 1952 (3293); EB 125.
The media can be a great resource for sharing the Good News, but it also can be a negative force in society--glorifying violence, trivializing sex and popularizing values of self-centeredness and despair.
Firstly, it is not surprising that Renew 2000 authors use the secular word "sex" rather than Catholic phrases such as conjugal love, marital union, marital act or intimate union. They have already taken one step towards "the world" be accepting its vocabulary and concepts.
Secondly, the dictionary definition for trivialize is to "make of little importance." It is confusing what media Renew 2000 authors view or read since the secular media does nothing but the opposite of trivializing what should be conjugal love. Today's secular liberal media pushes and glorifies all forms of sexual perversion, all of which sinful of course; impurity, lust, immodesty, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, artificial birth control, masturbation and other beastly acts which need not be mentioned here. Chaste behavior is never mentioned, let alone any mention of a proper spousal-only marital union.
Why does not Renew 2000 explain the Catholic teaching rather than their erroneous claim?
In addition to praying for vocations, speak with a family member or friend and invite him or her to consider the priesthood or religious life.
It is well known that modernist dissenters and feminists are clamoring for priestesses (women "priests"). This Renew 2000 sentence as written is vaguely enough to hint that one might encourage a women to consider the priesthood. Why couldn't Renew 2000 authors clearly state the Church's teaching that men only can be encouraged to the priesthood while women and men can be encouraged toward religious life (nuns and brothers, respectively)?
We can become better informed on what the media is doing to patrol itself, what government actions are being taken to control it and what private groups are doing to protect family values.
Furthermore, we can join others who support our values and work with them to lobby the Federal Communications Commission on programming and request that local stations abide by the Children's Television Acts of 1990 and 1996.
Write to stations, networks, program producers, etc., praising good programming; also write to object to bad programming. Encourage spiritual topics.
Also consider contacting some form of the media to suggest more value-based programming.
How can we, as a community, better share God's Word through the media, or what could we do to encourage the media to focus on strong moral values?
The values that we must adhere to in all aspects of our lives are Catholic values, not simply the vaguest terms "family values," or "value-based" or "good" or "bad" or "moral." These vague terms give one the notion that only personal conscience, without linkage to Catholic teaching, is all that is needed. This is sadly insufficient. Catholics are accountable to God for all their actions throughout their lives, and not by how they "feel" but rather how they conform to Catholic teaching. Has Renew 2000 even verified that the Children's Television Acts of 1990 and 1996 fully support Catholic morality? Vatican II in Dignitatis Humanae teaches:
#1: First, the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men. Thus He spoke to the Apostles: "Go, therefore, 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 things whatsoever I have enjoined upon you" (Matt. 28: 19-20). On their part, all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.
This Vatican Council likewise professes its belief that it is upon the human conscience that these obligations fall and exert their binding force. The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power.
This point is a continuation of above. "My moral values," in order to be a Catholic, must be directly linked to the teaching of Jesus Christ, which is contained within the Catholic Church. Lumen Gentium explicitly requires the conscience to be Catholic and for the Catholic conscience to guide every action of the person all the time - no exceptions:
In what ways have I become lax in accepting things that challenge my moral values?
#36: "Because of the very economy of salvation the faithful should learn to distinguish carefully between the rights and the duties which they have as belonging to the Church and those which fall to them as members of the human society. They will strive to unite the two harmoniously, remembering that in every temporal affair they are to be guided by a Christian conscience, since not even in temporal business may any human activity be withdrawn from God's dominion."
Our So how are Catholic consciences formed? Vatican II Dignitatis Humanae tells us clearly:
Certainly, in our struggle to balance free speech with moral values, we can preach the Good News of God's love through supporting and challenging the messages that we receive each day through the media.
The "struggle" as defined here is easy to solve - follow Catholic teaching all the time. Failing to do so is plain and simply a sin. As already discussed above, a Catholic's duty is to follow the Catholic teaching all the time, no exceptions. If the "free speech" is not virtuous, then it is sinful and is to be avoided. There is nothing to balance at all - the test is if the speech meets Catholic standards or not. Such a concept of balance is a pluralistic idea, where anything goes via "tolerance." For example, since some modernists claim that abortion is alright within their conscience, they also claim to have the right to promote their opinion. True faithful Catholics know that abortion is sinful because it is murder (note that one incurs an automatic excommunication to take part in an abortion). Without the anchor of the Church's teaching, only then does one worry about "balance" since it is simply one conscience against another. Promoting abortion may legally (in the secular sense) be free speech but it is gravely sinful - period.
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