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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: The Challenge Ahead of Us

Sharing a few personal thoughts…

We must not fool ourselves. The challenges we face are tremendous. Too long have we allowed the parameters of religious debates or the understanding of the Church, herself, to be defined by those who either hate the Church or who have a greater love for the world. Our voyeuristic society is enamored with  the shocking, scandalous and inordinate pleasure. Look at all the nonsense and analysis that was given to the Pope’s resignation. It did not matter that the Pope had a bad heart, was blind in one eye and was having mobility issues common to 85 year old men. The news anchors gave long discourses on the pedophile scandals that devastated the Church. They pointed fingers to the document leaks in the Vatican and problems with finances. Others closed their eyes to his many incredible accomplishments and argued that his was a failed papacy because he refused to bend on married priests or women priests or same-sex marriage, or divorce and remarriage, or on contraception and abortion, or because millions of Muslims still want holy war, or on what have you. They droned on and on. They are the blind who say they see but are really blind. Indeed, they are the blind leading the blind. We cannot surrender the formation of our people’s faith and values to these fools! We are surrounded by all sorts of voices. Many of these voices are shouting. Most of them are lying or have mixed truth and falsehood to the point that they cannot be unraveled. We have to do all we can to open the ears of our people to the whispering of Christ, the real Christ, not the popular false portrait of a passive and tolerant “wimp Jesus” who makes no demands and has no power to save. We have to help our people to see beyond the false presentations and rationalizations to the perennial faith and values which emerge from the sacred deposit. This is the challenge we face in every element of faith formation through proclamation, catechesis, evangelization and witness. We must fight to reclaim the reins of faith— defining for ourselves by the light of God’s grace and the apostolic legacy— the faith and the real issues that confront us.

We need more than a catechetical policy that would give prudential and organizational guidance. Rather, the proposed policy and much else during this Year of Faith should reach beyond a failed “business as usual” mentality to make something old ever new again, the message of mercy, life and unity in Christ. We need a manifesto for faith formation that will reach beyond rules and administration in becoming a clarion call for the New Evangelization?

4 Responses

  1. Father Joe,
    I’m late, as usual, with my comment. Your personal thoughts really hit the nail on the head. We need robust comment of this kind most urgently. As you say, Our Lord is no shrinking violet, and anyone who reads the Gospels can see that he is most demanding of us, and speaks with the voice of Authority, no wimpishness is to be found there. It is not the action of a wimp to knowingly go to His death on a Cross. Thankfully, His demands are matched by His Mercy. As Bob Dylan sings, in his latest (very Christian, perhaps Catholic-he reveals a devotion to Our Lady) album, “I pay in Blood, But not my own”.
    My compliments to Megan, for going to a lot of trouble to provide a very wise reply to what seems a very disturbed comment.

  2. Father Joe, if only we could hear this, and more like it every week at Mass. As you say, Jesus is no simpering violet, but an extremely demanding Master (one need only read his words in the Gospels). It is just as well that His Mercy matches His demands. As Bob Dylan sings in his (very Christian, perhaps Catholic-he displays a devotion to Our Lady) recent album, “I pay in Blood, But not my own”.

  3. A response to Dellenite:

    “Yea, don’t follow a wimpy Jesus, because wimps love their enemies and esteem others better than themselves and servants who wash feet are wimps and wimps die on a cross out of love and wimps forgive downright nasty sinners and tell them they’ll be in paradise and wimps talk to sinful women at wells and outsiders and welcome those outside the Church in, and wimps help the unclean stranger who was mugged instead of focusing on staying away from undesirables and getting to Church where they get righteous approval. These are all wimpy things.”

    Sam, where ever you post your attitude is always the same, condescension and failed attempts at creative mockery. Where did you learn to write? Look at the length of this run-on sentence. An English teacher could not diagram it even to save her life. You must really hate this priest in that you would twist his words against him. You disagree with his Christ of judgment— that I get. But he really says nothing here about not forgiving enemies. He says nothing about inordinate or misplaced respect. He says nothing about refusing to wash the feet of the weak or wounded. He says nothing about the castigation of other sinners. He says nothing about any necessary particular damnation. He says nothing against the dignity of women. He says nothing about being inhospitable to strangers or to those who have been assaulted. He says nothing about making distance from the marginalized or oppressed. He says nothing that would encourage the self-righteous attitude as exhibited by the Pharisees.

    “If you are grieving, poor, persecuted, merciful, pure, a peacemaker and meek then you are a wimp.”

    The priest did not say this. You did. It is your twisted interpretation.

    “Only wimps forgive and forget and fail to take themselves too seriously.”

    Again, the priest did not say this. You did. It is your twisted interpretation.

    “Don’t be a wimp.”

    We know who the priest is, but who are you. If you are not a wimp then post your full name, email, home address and phone number. Otherwise, you are a hit-and-run coward.

    “Resist one who is evil.”

    I am doing my best to resist you. But are you evil or just misguided or ill?

    “Don’t let them slap you on the other cheek. Wimps do that.”

    This is you once more.

    “Only wimps swallow their pride in obedience to God and defer to him and his judgment for true justice and vengeance.”

    This is still you. You are fooling no one. You are saying that this priest is disobedient, vengeful and unjust. That is nothing less than calumny.

    “God can’t handle the world without your ‘help.’”

    No, what you are saying is that this priest cannot teach without your reprimand and correction. You are saying that he has no right to share his faith.

    “It’s more about you than Him. Don’t be wimpy!”

    Actually, here I would suggest that you look in the mirror. This is really all about you. You have made yourself into the judge and jury to condemn this priest and his efforts.

    “Make sure the world knows that you’re somebody don’t be a wimp and defer the glory to God.”

    A priest offers the Mass and nothing you do can compare to this in giving glory to God. No, what you are saying here is that he and God must defer to you, an anonymous poster who would rather tear down than build anything of value.

    “Wimp is a four letter word. God hates your Impishness.”

    Imps are literally demons. Are you accusing the priest of being in league with the devil? What is with you?

    “When you are weak, that makes God weaker…. don’t believe them when they say: ‘When you are weak, God is strong.’”

    I wonder if you believe in anything. Nothing we do can compromise God’s power. However, we can damage our disposition toward grace. Have you utterly closed yourself to him?

    “Cursed are the poor in spirit. Cursed are the meek. Cursed are you when you’re aware that you are lacking something that only God can give.”

    See, you prove my point; the curses or judgments of damnation are all from you. Your discernment is not to be trusted.

    “Hide from the feeling, run away. There is nothing to value outside yourself and your own power. Weakness is to be despised.”

    You are the one who is hiding. The priest seeks to share the faith with which he has been entrusted as a shepherd of God. You come as a wolf to steal and destroy. As Christians, we submit to revealed truth and divine power. He knows this, you do not. You place no confidence in either the Church’s ministers or the Church, herself.

  4. Yea, don’t follow a wimpy Jesus, because wimps love their enemies and esteem others better than themselves and servants who wash feet are wimps and wimps die on a cross out of love and wimps forgive downright nasty sinners and tell them they’ll be in paradise and wimps talk to sinful women at wells and outsiders and welcome those outside the Church in, and wimps help the unclean stranger who was mugged instead of focusing on staying away from undesirables and getting to Church where they get righteous approval..These are all wimpy things. If you are grieving, poor, persecuted, merciful, pure, a peacemaker and meek then you are a wimp. Only wimps forgive and forget and fail to take themselves too seriously. Don’t be a wimp. Resist one who is evil. Don’t let them slap you on the other cheek. Wimps do that. Only wimps swallow their pride in obedience to God and defer to him and his judgment for true justice and vengeance. God can’t handle the world without your ‘help’. It’s more about you than Him. Don’t be wimpy! Make sure the world knows that you’re somebody don’t be a wimp and defer the glory to God. Wimp is a four letter word. God hates your Impishness . When you are weak, that makes God weaker…. don’t believe them when the say: “When you are weak, God is strong’ Cursed are the poor in spirit.Cursed are the meek. Cursed are you when you’re aware that you are lacking something that only God can give.Hide from the feeling, run away.There is nothing to value outside yourself and your own power. Weakness is to be despised.

    FATHER JOE: Oh gosh, more of the same.

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