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

Happy Birthday to my hero – Pope St. John Paul II

Today would have been the 97th birthday of Karol Wojtyla, known to so many as – Pope St. John Paul II. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him fondly. The reason I do what I do on this blog and in my position at the parish is based on his life and his many great documents. The influence of John Paul II on my own life is truly immeasurable. I was blessed to see him three times in my life – Phoenix, Arizona in 1987, Denver, Colorado in 1993, and in Rome, Italy in 2000. I am the JP2 Generation.

Pope St. John Paul II as a young priest.

For a collection of pictures from a previous post, check out this one I wrote on his birthday in 2014. Below are the Top 5 All-Time Posts (most views) I have written in the past –

1. 12 Quotes from Blessed Pope John Paul II on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World 

2. 12 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Guadalupe

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Mother of Mercy

4. 5 Quotes on Pentecost from Pope St. John Paul II

5. 10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

For the complete collection of my writings on him, click here.

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray For Us 

Pope St. John Paul II’s Rookie Card

Today is the memorial for Pope St. John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) as well as the 38th Anniversary of his Installation to the Papacy of the Catholic Church. Below you will find two pictures – the front and back of a prayer card from October 1978.

In some aspects, this prayer card for Pope St. John Paul II is like a “baseball rookie card.” It states the dates of his birth, ordination to the priesthood, elevation to the episcopate, cardinal creation, election to the papacy, and installation to the papacy.

If the prayer card below is like his baseball rookie card, then my blog post titled, Pope Saint John Paul: Mission Accomplished, is his induction to the Hall of Fame, well in this case, the Heavenly Kingdom.

In the 4½ years of writing on this blog, I have written about Pope St. John Paul over 50 times. He is one of the main reasons why I teach and write about the Catholic faith so much. His inspiration in my life, which began through Robert “BK” Kloska, has fueled many of my projects on here and in different parish and school positions that I have held over the years.

JP2 Rookie Card, Side 1JP2 Rookie Card, Side 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For your reading pleasure today, here are the blog posts that I have written on the Polish Pope and Saint since last year’s memorial day –

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

2. 7 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi 

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary’s Connection to Pentecost

4. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary as the Virgin of Virgins

5. Remembering Pope St. John Paul II: Eleven Years Later

6. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Presentation of the Lord

7. 10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

This link will take you to the many other blog posts I have written on him.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray For Us!

JP2, We Love You! 

Be Not Afraid! 

Beatification Pic of JP II

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.

Happy Mother’s Day

During this month of Mary, we celebrate the day known to us Mother’s Day. It is a day where we honor those women in our lives that cared for us in the womb before we were born, that nurtured us and supported us as young children, that watched us take our first step, and cried when we went to school for the first time.

It’s a day where we say thank you to the women who washed our clothes, cleaned up after us, shopped for our food, and were just always there with love and prayers. Thank you to all the mother’s that chose life and that continue to choose life today. You are all beautiful witnesses to a culture that refuses to see the life of human children as sacred.

mary-baby-jesus

As an example of perfect motherhood, we have our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. We honor her during this month for not only being the Mother of our Lord, but we honor her for being our Mother as well. Jesus gave her to us, through St. John, while he was on the Cross at Calvary. Mary is our Queen Mother. She intercedes for us and brings our petitions to our King – Jesus Christ.

Someone who knew the great love of Mary’s love was Pope St. John Paul II. When his own mother passed away, he asked the Blessed Mother to be his Mother. Please read – Mary, Motherhood, and Blessed John Paul III hope you can read it and share it with others.

Please watch the video below and share with your family and friends. I have used it other blog posts in the past. It’s simply fantastic. It’s a fine example of artistic license with the life of Christ 

To my Mom – We have been through a lot these past year. You are a rock, the strength, that holds our family together. I am not really sure how we could endure it without your presence. Thank you for all the prayers, support, and encouragement you give me on a daily basis.

To my sister – Watching you with the kids is simply amazing. You run all over the place with them and never seem to get tired, or at least show it. You are a great mother and support them well in all that they do.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Remembering Pope St. John Paul II: Eleven Years Later

Eleven years ago today, April 2, 2005, Pope St. John Paul II, died and entered eternal life. I remember receiving the news at a small wedding reception I was attending that Saturday afternoon for a colleague at the time. Upon arriving home, I remember weeping once I saw the official news on television. The loss was so great; it was as if I lost a family member. Although I never met John Paul personally, I was able to see him three different times during my lifetime: Phoenix, Arizona in 1987, Denver, Colorado in 1993 for World Youth Day, and finally, in Rome, Italy in 2000 for World Youth Day.

The influence John Paul II has had on my life is powerful and continues to be so 11 years after his earthly death. You are reading this blog post because of my late father’s encouragement and the words and life of John Paul II. Both have played a role in my love and ability to evangelize the Truth who is Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. This entire blog, which you read on my main page, is about Evangelization, Catechesis, and through the experience of the JP2 Generation, of which I am.

pope-john-paul-II

There is so much more I can say, but I will let you read it in other blog posts that I have written on him, since I have said it already in the past. If you click on the link below, you will find a plethora of blog posts focusing on the life and theology of Pope St. John Paul II. Many of my blog posts that focus on John Paul II have to be do with his love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and his thoughts on Mariology, which are often featured in my weekly series – “Mondays with Mary”.

If you are a new subscriber to my blog, I would highly encourage you to check out these weekly posts on Mary. I am 4 weeks away from the 200th blog post and the 4th anniversary of this series, which is slowing becoming a book that I hope to publish in the near future. John Paul II has given me lots to say on Mary and it is through his intercession that I continue to write about her. Here are my many blog posts on Pope St. John Paul II.

JP2 book by B16I just ordered this book through Barnes and Noble (had a gift card) and it arrived last night. I quickly flipped through the pages this morning and it is pretty awesome. Not only did I, and many of my generation have a love for John Paul II, but his close friend, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did as well.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray For Us. 

Totus Tuus. 

We Stand Up to Fight for Life and Humanity

Today, hundreds of thousands will gather in blizzard conditions in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life, and on Saturday, ten of thousands will gather for the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, CA. The main stream liberal media (composed of liberals who promote tolerance and justice, unless of course you disagree with them) will more than likely not cover either event, even though there has been a push this year for them to cover it. Their avoidance of not choosing to report about these two events will not stop us from gathering to defend the importance of human life, which begins at conception.

We now have entered the 43rd year of this war on abortion that has cost the lives of over 57 million babies. The battle lines have been drawn and the ranks just continue to grow on the Pro-Life front. The numbers have not decreased, as some wish they would, but they have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled over the years.

The Culture of Death, a phrase coined by Pope Saint John Paul II, is looking to destroy all that is good and beautiful about the human person. As Christians, we must rise up and defend human life from conception to natural death. We must stand for marriage between one man and one woman, we must fight against the evils of contraception, in-vitro fertilization, cloning, stem-cell research that destroys human embryos, and child abuse. In the end, we must fight for the very good of humanity itself!

The Culture of Death is not just about Abortion, but it envelops all the forces of destruction that I have mentioned, which in the long run seeks to destroy today’s civilization. These evils will only continue to disrupt and demonize humanity in the years to come. We can see it currently with the destruction of the traditional family, the great strife in relationships, and the annihilation of the glory of the human person.

March for Life 2013

With millions of children dead, we must say enough is enough. We must stand up and fight for the unborn — for the beauty of the human person. Standing up for Life against the evils of Abortion is what we are called to do. It’s our very duty in this time of human history.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis says,

“Defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right…It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.”

We are no longer fighting just battles, but it’s an all out war against the Culture of Death. We are not just engaging our fellow humans, who justify Abortion as a “law” or because it’s the easy way out, but we are fighting against the spiritual world as well (See Eph 6:10-18). As Christians, we must “put on the whole armor of God” so that we too can stand against the attacks from the devil. We must gird our loins and engage the battle that is in front of us.

The Culture of Life must be the engaging force against this darkness. With Jesus Christ as our source and summit, it is our fundamental duty as Christians to engage the culture, counteract the culture, and do all that we can to show the Light of the World to the world. Our Lord is not a light that should be kept under a bushel basket, but He is the greatest light, the light brighter than a thousand Suns – Christ is the Light that will pierce the darkness. Jesus Christ is the Heart – the very Core, of the Culture of Life, for He is Life itself.