Pentecost: Lighting the World on Fire with the New Evangelization

There is a scene in the 1991 film, Backdraft, when Robert De Niro’s character asks Donald Sutherland’s character (an imprisoned pyromaniac), “what do you want to do to the whole world Ronald”, and he replies “burn it all.”

If you have never see the movie, I encourage you to see because it’s a great film, however the reason why I quote this film is because as Catholic Christians living in the world, we should want to do the same thing to the world, but in a Evangelistic way. We should be seeking to light the world on fire with the light of the Holy Spirit.

As Catholics, we should be spiritual fire-starters for Jesus Christ and His Church. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled” (Lk 12:49). Obviously, I am not talking about starting literal fires, but I am speaking about playing with the fire of Pentecost and the fire that we receive in the Sacrament of Confirmation. As Catholics, it is our fundamental duty to evangelize the world by playing with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

At the direction of a good friend of mine, a few years ago, I read George Weigel’s book – Evangelical Catholicism. His understanding of the Catholic Church and the deep reform (not doctrinal reform) that is needed for the Church in the 21st century is prophetic, and remember we are only at the beginning of it. If you have never read it, I would highly encourage you to do so.

In Chapter 1, there is a section called – Pentecost, Again. He begins this section by stating that through the pontificates of Pope St. John XXIII (and the Second Vatican Council) and Pope St. John Paul II, a new Pentecost is on the horizon in the Catholic Church. The marching orders that will lead this new Pentecost is the New Evangelization.

In his encyclical, Redemptoris Missio, Pope St. John Paul II says this –

God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.

Now this is no easy task, especially in a Church that seems to be somewhat conflicted with herself today, but if the mission can be met, it means that we who take on this great call will have to play with fire.

To encourage you to “play with fire”, here are some dynamic and powerful quotes from Evangelical Catholicism and the section on the new Pentecost –

Quoting Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger –

“the Holy Spirit is fire; whoever does not want to be burned should not come near him.” This fire…”is an “inimitable” part of the “relationship between Christ, Holy Spirit, and Church.””

Fire of the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ –

“The fire of the Holy Spirit purifies, inspires, and fuses men and women together into a new human community, the Church. Through each of its members, and in them as a whole, the Church is the Body of Christ on earth.”

Fire of the Holy Spirit, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger  –

“Faith is a tongue of fire that burns us and melts us so that ever more it is true: I am no longer I…When we yield to the burning fire of the Holy Spirit, being Christian becomes comfortable only as first glance…Only when we do not fear the tongue of fire and the storm it brings with it does the Church become the icon of the Holy Spirit. And only then does she open the world to the light of God.”

Evangelical Catholicism is Not Easy –

“The cultural Catholicism of the past was “comfortable” because it fit neatly within the ambient public culture, causing little chafing between one’s life “in the Church” and one’s life “in the world.”…Evangelical Catholicism does not seek to “get along”; it seeks to convert.”

Evangelical Catholicism in the Church –

“…Lukewarm Catholicism has no future: submitting to the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit is not longer optional…Evangelical requires a generosity about time from the laity, who must make time amid the rush of postmodern life for a deeper encounter with Christ than that permitted by an hour’s worth of weekly worship…more attention to sacramental preparation and sacramental discipline…”

Evangelical Catholicism, Community, and Holiness –

“Evangelical Catholicism builds up the community of the faithful not for the sake of the community but for the sake of a common reception of the mysteries of the faith, which in turn become the fonts of grace…The tongues of from which the Church is formed thus become the fire of mission by which the world is set ablaze…Evangelical Catholicism calls the entire Church to holiness for the sake of mission.”

I don’t know about you, but these words from George Weigel get me fired up…pun intended! As Catholics, it is time, now more than ever before, for us to light the world on fire with the love of Jesus Christ and the Church. Find strength in the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist – they unite us with Jesus Christ and each other, the Body of Christ.

In the book, The Spirit of Catholicism (another great text!) Karl Adam says, “Twelve simple, uneducated fishermen revolutionized the world, and that with no other instrument than their new faith and their readiness to die for that faith.”

If the Twelve Apostles could do this, imagine what we can do with 2,000 years of Scripture and Tradition behind us. My fellow Catholics – Go! Evangelize! And the set the world on fire

Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Today in the both lungs of the Catholic Church, the East and the West, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, or as it is titled in the East – Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. St. John the Baptist is the son of Saints Zachariah and Elizabeth and the last great Old Testament prophet. He is the harbinger of Jesus Christ. It would be hard to imagine that a Christian would not know the story behind Saint John the Baptist, but in case you don’t, you can read a simple and short explanation of that here.

In our age of the New Evangelization, Saint John the Baptist is an example of one who preached with passion, strength, humility and courage. He was not afraid, even in the face of grave danger, to speak the truth and prepare the way for Jesus Christ. As John the Baptist preached, so must we also speak in the ways associated with our God-given gifts, the same dynamic message in our current culture – a culture that stays anything and everything is okay as long as it makes you feel good, a motto frequently professed by King Herod.

And as if St. John the Baptist wasn’t enough of an example for us, many of us remember that papacy of Pope St. John Paul II, who in the face of grave danger from the Nazis, and even more so, the Socialists, stood toe-to-toe with them and defeated them by preaching the Truth of Jesus Christ. Now a saint counted among the greats of the Catholic Church, John Paul II stands for us as the pope of the New Evangelization and an example of what it means to preach the Gospel message in a world hostile to Jesus Christ.

So with this all being said, I give you 7 quotes from Pope St. John Paul II’s Latin Rite Mass Homily given at Kyiv in the Ukraine on June 24, 2001 about Saint John the Baptist and his relations to Jesus Christ –

“His name is John” (Lk 1:63)…which in Hebrew means “God is benevolent”God is benevolent to human beings: he wants them to live; he wants them to be saved. God is benevolent to his people: he wants to make of them a blessing for all the nations of the earth. God is benevolent to humanity: he guides its pilgrim way towards the land where peace and justice reign. All this is contained in that name: John!”

“Look today to John the Baptist, an enduring model of fidelity to God and his Law. John prepared the way for Christ by the testimony of his word and his life. Imitate him with docile and trusting generosity.”

St. John the Baptist icon

“Saint John the Baptist is above all a model of faith. Following the example of the great Prophet Elijah, in order to listen more attentively to the word of the one Lord of his life, he leaves everything and withdraws to the desert, from which he would issue the resounding call to prepare the way of the Lord (cf. Mt 3:3 and parallels).”

“He is a model of humility, because to those who saw in him not only a Prophet, but the Messiah himself, he replied: “Who do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie” (Acts 13:25).”

“He is a model of uprightness and courage in defending the truth, for which he was prepared to pay in his person, even to the point of imprisonment and death.”

“You, dear young people, be brave and free! Do not let yourselves be taken in by the deceptive mirages of an easy happiness. Follow the way of Christ: he is demanding, certainly, but he alone can help you to savour the full meaning of life and enjoy peace of heart.”

“You, dear parents, prepare the way of the Lord before your children. Bring them up with love, and set a good example by living the principles you teach. And you, teachers and leaders of society, deepen your commitment to promoting the complete development of the human person, fostering in the young a deep sense of justice and of solidarity with the less fortunate.”

To conclude, let us always remember the words of Pope St. John Paul II – “Be Not Afraid.” Even in the face of our current culture, who sees Christianity, specifically Catholicism as a threat, we have these words, the actions and words of St. John the Baptist, the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the chivalrous witness of the great saints and martyrs of the Church who support us and intercede for us at all times.

Saint John the Baptist…Pray for Us.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

From my first year in the Saint Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco, I knew the importance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (abbreviated as CCC) because in most of my theology driven Institute classes it was quoted by my professors. It was Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., founder of the Saint Ignatius Institute and Ignatius Press, who first professed the importance of studying the newly promulgated catechism.

Over the years since 1994, I have read nearly the entire Catechism, have quoted from it for papers and blog posts, and have used it extensively when teaching others about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church plays a major role in the New Evangelization set before the Church today. There should be a copy of one in every Catholic household. To buy it, click here.

With that being said, let’s turn towards the first official brief lesson from the Catechism. Since today is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ Sacrifice on the Cross and Burial in the Tomb, let us begin here.

CCC 619: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3).

CCC 620: Our salvation flows from God’s initiative of love for us, because “he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation of our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19).

CCC 621: Jesus freely offered himself for our salvation. Beforehand, during the Last Supper, he both symbolized this offering and made it really present: “This is my body which is given for you” (Lk 22:19).

CCC 622: The redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mt 20:28), that is, he “loved [his own] to the end” (Jn 13:1), so that they might be “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their] fathers” (1 Pet 1:18).

CCC 623: By his loving obedience to the Father, “unto death, even death on cross” (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfills the atoning mission (cf. Isa 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will “make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19).

CCC 629: To the benefit of every man, Jesus Christ tasted death (cf. Heb 2:9). It is truly the Son of God made man who died and was buried.

CCC 630: During Christ’s period in the tomb, his divine person continued to assume both his soul and his body, although they were separated from each other by death. For this reason the dead Christ’s body “saw no corruption” (Acts 13:37).

For a more extensive explanation of the above paragraphs, please read CCC 613-620 and CCC 624-628.

Please be advised: the numbers next to the CCC above are the paragraph numbers, not the page numbers.

TomPerna.org 2013 Annual Report

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 97,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you to all my followers on here, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. I am truly blessed to have so many of you following this little blog. May you have a Happy New Year and blessed 2014.

I hope you will share my blog with your family and friends, especially those Catholics who have fallen away from the Catholic Church, those that are seeking to return, and finally those on fire for the faith. Thanks again!

In Christ through Mary,

Tom

The 50th Anniversary of Inter Mirifica

Yesterday, December 4, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Decree on the Media of Social Communications from the Second Vatican Council known as Inter Mirifica. Along with this document we also celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

When the Council Fathers gathered during the early 1960’s, I guarantee they had no idea how social communications and media would develop and advance from the day this document was promulgated by Pope Paul VI. In the 1960’s, computers were housed in entire rooms, now we have computers in our hands. Technological advances have evolved drastically over the past 50 years, but especially in the past 20 years with the advances in laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

These instruments have not only advanced the world we live in, but the Church is using these same tools, along with the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, other social media outlets and Catholic apps to announce the same Gospel proclaimed by the Apostles 2000 year ago. Proposition 18 from the Synod on the New Evangelization states, “Education in the wise and constructive use of social media is an important means to be utilized in the New Evangelization.”

Many seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops, religious sisters, religious orders, dioceses, archdioceses, and even the Pope (@Pontifex) have Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, or both. The Catholic Blogosphere has exploded in recent years with many lay people developing blogs alongside the clergy and religious to promote the beauty and Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church.

Even with all that is on the Internet in regards to the Catholic Church, I recently heard a statistic that shocked me – only 13% of Catholics that attend Mass each Sunday know of a Catholic online presence. What?!

Although Inter Mirifica has taken hold in the life of the Church, there is still a lot more work to be done, if the the above statistic is true. It really takes about 50 years for documents to make their presence felt in the life of the Church after an ecumenical council. With that being said, the documents of the Second Vatican Council are at the beginning stages of bearing their fruit. It’s an exciting time to be a Catholic!

I would encourage you to read the Decree on the Media of Social Communications, Inter Mirifica, as soon as you can. It’s a short document and one that you will understand. If you have any questions about the document, feel free to contact me.

Below are five quotes that stood out for me from Inter Mirifica

“The most important of these inventions are those media which, such as the press, movies, radio, television and the like, can, of their very nature, reach and influence, not only individuals, but the very masses and the whole of human society, and thus can rightly be called the media of social communication” (#1).

“It is the duty of Pastors to instruct and guide the faithful so that they, with the help of these same media, may further the salvation and perfection of themselves and of the entire human family. In addition, the laity especially must strive to instill a human and Christian spirit into these media, so that they may fully measure up to the great expectations of mankind and to God’s design” (#3).

“First, a good press should be fostered. To instill a fully Christian spirit into readers, a truly Catholic press should be set up and encouraged. Such a press-whether immediately fostered and directed by ecclesiastical authorities or by Catholic laymen-should be edited with the clear purpose of forming, supporting and advancing public opinion in accord with natural law and Catholic teaching and precepts…effective support should be given to good radio and television programs, above all those that are suitable for families. Catholic programs should be promoted, in which listeners and viewers can be brought to share in the life of the Church and learn religious truths” (#14).

“Since the proper use of the media of social communications which are available to audiences of different cultural backgrounds and ages, calls for instruction proper to their needs, programs which are suitable for the purpose-especially where they are designed for young people-should be encouraged, increased in numbers and organized according to Christian moral principles. This should be done in Catholic schools at every level, in seminaries and in lay apostolate groups. To speed this along catechetical manuals should present and explain Catholic teaching and regulations on this matter” (#16).

“It will be the task of the Bishops, however, to watch over such works and undertakings in their own dioceses, to promote them and, as far as the public apostolate is concerned, to guide them, not excluding those that are under the direction of exempt religious” (#20).

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen…Pray For Us! 

Evangelii Gaudium Has Been Released!

Pope Francis’ first official document, written by his own hands, Evangelii Gaudium, has been released! This is an exciting day for those of us who love and promote the New Evangelization.

I will read it and write about it in the months ahead.

Pray for Pope Francis!

“I Have A Very Important Message For You…I Want To Become A Priest for Christ.”

There are many beautiful stories that are starting to come out of last week’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. I imagine as the pilgrims return home to their countries, stories of conversions and interactions with Pope Francis will emerge as well. The Holy Father, nicknamed, Hurricane Francis, brought with him Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother, and the Catholic Church’s missionary role to a country that needs to hear the New Evangelization.

The video above is a young boy by the name of Nathan de Brito who climbed over the barricades and made his way to Pope Francis in the Pope Mobile. The young boy said to the Holy Father,”I have a very important message for you…I want to become a priest for Christ.” Usually when a boy has the call from a young age, he will often find himself as a Priest years later. Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) and Saint John Bosco are two examples of such cases. The same goes for young women in regards to Religious Life.

It’s a striking video and one that has the potential to make you weep for joy. Watch the video and then share it on your Social Media sites. Everyone needs to see this video!