6-part mini series: “Why We’re Contraception-Free”.

The series tells the true story of how two educated evangelical Protestants in love were of course planning on using contraception (everyone does), but had their plans turned upside after stumbling across a decades old document written by a long-dead Pope.

Link

Editor’s note: True Romance!

Weigel: The days of Recreational Catholicism—Catholicism as a traditional, leisure-time activity absorbing perhaps ninety minutes of one’s time on a weekend—is over.

The challenge can be defined simply: Throughout the Western world, the culture no longer carries the faith, because the culture has become increasingly hostile to the faith. Catholicism can no longer be absorbed by osmosis from the environment, for the environment has become toxic. So we can no longer sit back and assume that decent lives lived in conformity with the prevailing cultural norms will somehow convey the faith to our children and grandchildren and invite others to consider entering the Church.

No, in our new situation, Catholicism has to be proposed, and Catholicism has to be lived in radical fidelity to Christ and the Gospel.

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The trends unleashed in the 1960’s threw all of American Christianity into crisis.

Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.

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The original Evangelical, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Bible Believin’, Charismatic, Trinitarian, Full-Gospel Church of Jesus Christ.

…the evangelical movement is, in fact, Catholic. We need not emulate our non-Catholic brothers to fix our problems. We need only look to our own identity in Christ.

I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit has something to do with all this…

Evangelical Christianity started with the apostles. Evangelical means nothing less than “Gospel Christian” and the apostles were that, if nothing else. How could the first preachers of the Gospel – the evangelium – not be evangelicals?

The apostolic era model of the evangelical way of life is preserved in the Book of Acts:

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. -Acts 2:42-47

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Religious rallies across USA protest birth-control mandate

Thousands of people rallied today in an estimated 140 cities nationwide to protest mandatory insurance coverage for birth control, which opponents say threatens religious freedom.

Crowd estimates ranged from dozens to hundreds to thousands, according to various news reports. Protesters were characterized as being mostly conservative Catholics, evangelicals and abortion opponents.

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PRESS RELEASE: A January 29 event in keeping with the spirit of MLK

THE ARCHANGEL INSTITUTE MARKS MLK DAY
WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF A COMMUNITY DISCUSSION
HONORING THE SPIRIT OF MLK’s
LETTER FROM A BIRMINGHAM JAIL


The ArchAngel Institute is presenting a community discussion of the Manhattan Declaration in the basement theater of the Allen County Public Library at 3 pm on Saturday, January 29, 2011.

The Manhattan Declaration is a call to “Christian Conscience” that was authored by Catholic and Evangelical scholars. It has been signed by tens of thousands in Christian leadership. It is a pledge to stand firm on the historic Christian teachings regarding the sanctity of human life, the definition of marriage and the free exercise of the Faith. More on this document is available here: http://www.manhattandeclaration.org

A panel experienced in both Christian activism and the discussion of Christian obedience in the face of anti-Christian governance will address the Declaration from differing perspectives. Priests Father David Mary and Father Glenn Kohrman are on this panel, as well as theologian Dr. John Bequette and nurse/pro-life advocate Gloria Carrel.

Former Bishop Dwenger teacher/coach and local businessman Bob Brownis hosting this event for the ArchAngel Institute. This promises to be an interesting and robust conversation of some of the most controversial topics of the day. The panel will take questions from those in attendance.

This event follows the 37th Annual March for Life, which begins with a rally at the Scottish Rite Cathedral at 12 noon on the same day.

Visit the ArchAngel Institute Site

Staunch Evangelical Missionary Decides To Become Catholic


From the time I was a kid, I was taught that in the hierarchy of careers, foreign missionary service was right at the top of the list of things that please God. Marty and I discussed the possibility of his teaching in a school for missionary children. Since he already spoke Spanish, we knew it was likely we’d end up in Latin America or Spain. We prayed that God would use us as missionaries to bring Catholics to Christ. We wanted to bring them “true Christianity.” From the time we made that decision until our arrival in Guatemala, a little over eight years went by.

Shortly after we arrived in Guatemala my tidy paradigm of “true Christianity” began to disintegrate. For more than two years, I experienced a persistent nagging at the back of my consciousness regarding several theological issues. Getting to the mission field brought those problems to the fore.

Perhaps the most distasteful of the nagging issues was what I had come to see as the cultural hegemony inherent in Evangelicalism’s mission strategy. Evangelicals were (and are) importing wholesale a specifically American brand of piety, imposing the forms and symbols and jargon of “American Christianity” on the people in other countries. This religious colonialism bothered me a lot.

There was also the problem of illiteracy in Latin America. Since childhood I had been steeped in the mindset that the Bible is the literal touchstone of all things Christian. Consequently, I had a hard time integrating the Evangelical “read it for yourself” approach with a culture in which many people couldn’t read.

And finally, the Protestant notion of sola scriptura (the Bible alone) fell apart each time I tried to test it. I began to see that Evangelicalism’s insistence on going by the Bible alone led continually into division and problems. Worse yet, claiming to go by the Bible alone didn’t really provide any certitude of belief for believers.

Because of my upbringing and theological training, I didn’t realize at first that as soon as I allowed myself to question these three problem areas I was pointing myself in the direction of Rome. I thought I was just settling some troubling issues, but it was really at this point that my journey into the Catholic Church began.

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I Never Knew Your Name. Thank you!

A Catholic Military Chaplain deployed in Afghanistan

This “thank you” goes out to all of the Roman Catholic Military Chaplains around the world.

Thank you for suffering tireless work at the hands of a wartorn “death culture” world. Thank you for getting up before the sun and retiring after the last soldier retreats. Thank you for mustering the added strength needed for dealing with the feminine face of the military, such that it is, in this ever-changing cultural landscape of soldiering. Thank for weathering an adminstration seemingly unsympathetic to the particular needs of Catholics in the military. For those of you out there, and you are many, thank you for risking bullets and bombs to bring spiritual aid and comfort to our troops on the frontlines.

Many will never announce his work done in anonymity and tireless obedience and humility. You are away from your families and friends. Your spiritual needs are placed way behind those of the needs of the soldiers under your care. You have to face day after day of military food or MRE’s in the field, the physical discomfort of wearing armored gear when you are in the field, bugs and weather, and less than pleasant living conditions, little or no time for your own personal worship and study, extended tours, canceled leaves, alienation, and loneliness of the worst kind. It really truly often is just you and God out there.

Thank you!

Bravery seems a small word to describe what soldiers endure for the sake of freedom, multiply that by seven, for what unarmed Military Chaplains endure. You are often the first one to arrive (even before the commander) when the medic is there ministering to a wounded, or dying soldier, and often the last person he or she will ever see in this life.

I mourned the loss of a prayer-life during basic training. I got to go on a Christian retreat at an Evangelical retreat house after the first month of training. There I learned of a military Chaplain whose vested interest it was to hault the activities of the Planned Parenthood located on the base. The evangelicals (knowing I was Catholic) directed me to him urging me to meet him before my time in tradoc ended there. I didn’t know if I could fit it in as we were really tethered to the Drill Sergeants’ scheduled dictates during Basic.

I showed up on his doorstep for confession not realizing this was the priest that they had told me about. My confession was probably the same as the last 100 hundred soldiers that he had seen.

A lot of people don’t know this but the confession lines are long at military bases. I was cross with other trainees, I needed to be more charitable, and to be more Christ-like. These priests don’t lament the fact of an underused Sacrament. This is not a reality for them.

My turn comes up and I moan and groan about not being able to pray. He told me to pray during sit-ups, during push-ups, on KP, in my runs, and during d & c. I did what he said. I relayed that the loss of a ministry to the unborn in pro-life activism weighed heavily on my mind.

I came out of that confessional to be met by a sea of green in the sanctuary. In his homily he invited a volunteer from the laity to relay to the rest what day it was. The military is a conservative entity and the conservatives are more sympathetic to the pro-life movement.

Nobody volunteered. So I got up to tell them that it was the Anniversary of Roe V. Wade. You could hear a pin drop. This was the second cycle of integrated training where both the men and the women trained together so a sea of, not just masculine, but also feminine faces turned to look at me. Wow did I really just get up and say that? The priest was beaming. I went to Communion and there he had for me two Communion wafers. In a death culture industry such that the Military seems to be (though it in reality is not) he persevered to protect life He was the priest they told me about. This humble and obedient man was the one instrumental in getting that Military Base Planned Parenthood closed down. He never let on even once during confession who or what he was to the pro-life movement.

His example there in that particular place in time was evidence of the sort humility that I would unsuccessfully try to exhibit in my own life. I needed to learn obedience that was why God put me there. Obedience is kind of a watchword in the military, more than in any other other form of service, except for vocations. Military Chaplains, therefore, get a double dose. He most certainly did.

I never knew your name.

Thank you!

– Submitted by a pro-life soldier

Related link

Catholic Chaplain – aftermath of Ft. Hood shootings

Beware of Bible scholars spouting Greek

In some Evangelical circles, knowledge of the Biblical Greek language is seen as a trump card in any arguments regarding the interpretation of Scripture passages. When a debate occurs, someone just has to say, “well, in the original Greek, this means…” and the argument is won. But the reality is much different: although knowledge of Biblical Greek is helpful in many ways, it does not automatically give one knowledge of the “real” meaning of a passage. Greek is still a human language, and as such, it has its ambiguities just like any language. Furthermore, those who know Greek have their own biases and preconceptions which they bring to the text. Sometimes knowing the Greek can eliminate certain possible interpretations, but never does it alone give you sure knowledge of the meaning of a debated passage.

One of the most well-known Greek teachers in the Evangelical world is Bill Mounce. I myself have used his materials to learn Biblical Greek. Fortunately, even though he is an expert in the Biblical Greek language, Mounce does not fall into the fallacy of thinking that knowledge of Greek gives you some secret knowledge of the inner meaning of the Bible. He understands that proper interpretation includes many factors outside of just knowing the original language.

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Inviting Protestant in-laws to a Catholic (infant) Baptism?

Q: Inviting Protestant in-laws to a Catholic (infant) Baptism?

I am having my baby baptized, but all of my in-laws are hardcore Baptists/Evangelists. Should I even invite people who aren’t Catholic, or will they be respectful about it? Anyone had a similar experience?

They are always bagging on me for being Catholic, giving me names of “different” churches that we can attend. I have a feeling that they will roll their eyes through the whole ceremony and glare at me for not doing things the Baptist way.

A: You definitely should invite them … because it would be an insult not to.

Your non-Catholic relatives probably don’t believe in original sin. They don’t believe in the primacy of grace, and they don’t believe in the necessity of sacraments for the purpose of infusing grace into the soul.

Surprisingly … Baptists don’t believe in the necessity and effectiveness of the sacrament of baptism, either … they think it’s just a nice thing to do … but only for those who are old enough to make a profession of faith … hence their problems with infant baptism.

Ask the priest or deacon to explain to all those gathered for the baptism that infant baptism, as practiced in the Catholic Church, is THE most definitive demonstration of salvation with ABSOLUTELY NO WORKS AT ALL … according the FAITH of the Church … FREELY given by God … who desires all to be SAVED, and to come to the knowledge of his TRUTH.

Since the Holy Spirit IS the Spirit of Truth … and “knowing” that truth involves the indwelling of one’s soul by that same Spirit … it’s clear that Catholics have always had this one right, from the very earliest days of the Church.

It would also be a good idea to mention that grace necessarily preceeds faith … and that baptism is all about grace … and all about the Holy Spirit sweeping original sin from the soul and taking up residence there … making the infant a temple of the Holy Spirit, an adopted child of God, co-heir with Jesus Christ, a citizen of Heaven, and a member of the Church.

Let anyone attempt to make a case against that!

Furthermore … the Bible DOES NOT prohibit infant baptism … while the OT practice of circumcision is cited by St. Paul as one of the strongest precedents for infant baptism.

Your Baptist relatives will likely understand things framed in this manner … even if their Protestant beliefs don’t quite measure up.