Apologize and Don't Be Sorry!

A site dedicated to thinking through the common objections to the Catholic Faith as well as questions of a general religious nature.

Location: Prague, Oklahoma, United States

Just your basic 21st century priest trying to bring the Gospel to everyone who will give it a fair hearing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Once we have truly met the Risen One by partaking of his body and blood, we cannot keep to ourselves the joy we have experienced. The encounter with Christ, constantly intensified and deepened in the Eucharist, issues in the Church and in every Christian an urgent summons to testimony and evangelization.
Pope John Paul II, Mane Nobiscum Domine #24.

In a former life, I was a musician. Namely, I was someone who didn’t want to take gym, so instead I took choir. While in choir, I came to understand the rich complexity music embodies.

Every piece of music begins with a melody. A composer builds a musical composition on the foundation of a melody. The melody is the part of the music that you hum after the song is over. Upon the melody’s foundation, the composer build a harmony. The harmony highlights a complimentary aspect of the melody, thus emphasizing what the melody plays. In terms of difficulty, the harmony can be as simple as one additional line (the basic duet) all the way to eight and nine additional lines written for male and female voices. This varying degree of possibility suggests how potent and how much potential is hidden in any one line of music. Lastly, the composer can add a further line of definition to the music by adding a descant. This last line acts like a harmony for the harmony, mainly to accent the full potential of what is composed. While many songs are "popular," few are immortal, speaking to generation after generation of listeners.

The life of Christians follows the same angles. A Christian builds his life of grace upon the work of evangelization. No one becomes a Christian on their own; we became a Christian because someone proclaimed the message of Christ to us. The vast majority of Christians are evangelized in their homes, gathered around the kitchen table to hear the lessons the Church hands on. Many Christians enter into the Faith, however, in their adult years, after many passing encounters with Christ. Regardless of when you are evangelized, be it as child or adult, all evangelization demands conversion. If we realize that the only answer to the looming question, "what is my life for?," is "your life is hidden in Christ with God," then we cannot remain the same.

Conversion leads to the next dimension of Christian life, catechesis. Catechesis is the deepening and uncovering of the further implications of the Faith, through further study of the Church’s teaching. Like a harmony in music, catechesis involves varying degrees of complexity the more deeply you explore what the Faith teaches. Every line of the Creed has greater meaning than perhaps our Sunday recitation suggests. Again, effective catechesis draws the Christian towards conversion. Knowledge inevitably leads the person to ask how can I make this active in my life.

Hence, we reach the last degree, formation. Formation, like the descant, is icing on the cake. From our encounter with Christ in evangelization, through the growth in knowledge of Christ in catechesis, we long to live in union with Christ through our formation. Formation comes as the beautiful fruit of evangelization and catechesis. Formation is, in the truest sense, the practice of the Faith.

The connection between the Eucharist and evangelization should be clear then. When Christ commands the Apostles to "do this (the Eucharist) in memory of me," He is giving them a lasting commandment, a commandment to be enacted in every age. The Eucharist becomes the foundation of our encounter with the Risen Christ. For that encounter to happen, we must be informed that Christ is actually, really, and truly present under the appearances of bread and wine. This truth of the Holy Eucharist must be proclaimed to us; it will not occur merely naturally. It is a mystery of faith, beyond the realms of pure reason’s facility to uncover. In short, we must be evangelized to this truth of the Faith.

When we are informed of the reality hidden in the Holy Eucharist, we cannot remain silent. Hence, we begin to reach out to proclaim the saving truth of Christ to our neighbors, our friends, our families. We all have friends and neighbors who at one time were Catholic but now have lapsed. Perhaps this lapse is not a moral fault but a faulty evangelization. They have tried to build a sound house of faith upon unsound foundations. A simple first step for evangelization in our diocese could be taking a lapsed Catholic to Sunday Mass. Granted, without sacramental confession, they cannot receive Holy Communion. At the same time however, seeing the source of our Faith, Jesus Christ, present in the Holy Eucharist, perhaps, the ears of their heart will be unstopped, thus enabling them to hear the beautiful, symphonic music of the True Faith.