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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Faith Formation: Correlation & Permeation of Religious Formation

Sharing a few personal thoughts…

The revised policies should address a plan for religious formation that would entail a correlation of the various areas of Church life focusing both on the content of Christian faith and morals as well as the various means for its promulgation or transmission. Every parish committee should be grounded in the Christian kerygma. We educate children on many subjects, but religious education is the reason we have parish programs and schools. We want to help the poor, protect human life, promote justice and defend human rights. But we are not social workers, philosophers or secular humanists. The faith is the axis around which everything else rotates. Looking to the Archdiocese, the faith and its formation should permeate our various departments and operations: Communications (online communications, computers, television, radio, phone and fax, newspapers, flyers, books, booklets, flyers, lectures, etc.), Catechesis (adult and child), Evangelization and Mission (bringing back the prodigals and looking outward), Worship (allowing ourselves to be formed by the Word and the Eucharist), Sacramental Preparation (emphasizing the meaning of Christian Baptism, Confession, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, etc.), Social Services and Outreach (extending the healing ministry of Jesus), Youth Ministry (preparing young people who are NOT simply the Church of tomorrow but PART OF the Church of TODAY!) and Parochial Schools (a necessary alternative to public schools which no longer teach many of our values).

There are many people who “think they know” what the Church teaches and yet such knowledge is often juvenile, inexact, tainted with errors and stereo-types, and judged by the prism of a hedonistic and relativistic society. We have the truth. We have the great mystery. We know the meaning of life. But how do we connect the Greatest Story Ever Told to the lived stories of our people and the legacy of the saints? The Bible is God’s Word given to humanity, but only if it is opened and PROCLAIMED. How do we get the Good News to our people and their neighbors? What manner of presentation can we offer so that it will not get lost with all the half-truths and selfish pursuits of the environment where we find ourselves? Can we get our people to place a higher price and joy in going to Mass than to a sports game or a musical concert? Can we get our people to open their bibles on a daily basis in preference to the latest bestselling erotic novel like Fifty Shades of Grey? A buried treasure remains just something that is buried or lost. We do not want to bury the Good News of Christ and of his Church. The policies should speak to the various media we can use as well as traditional outreach. Years ago we had a project in various parishes where volunteers went door-to-door. We left neighbors a little bag with a parish bulletin, a pencil stamped with a faith message, and a brochure or booklet about the Catholic faith. We did not seek to steal the congregants of other churches. If someone was a good Baptist or Lutheran, we prayed with them as a fellow Christian and let them know that we shared a love for Jesus. Of course, we leave our doors open to all. We focused principally on fallen-away Catholics and the large number of unchurched. Of course, if we are going to have such outreach or missionary activity, we had better make sure we have something to which to keep them once they come home to the Catholic house that Christ built.