Thursday, February 13, 2014

we preach the Gospel at our church...don't we?

It was last Sunday. My husband celebrated the 6:30 AM Mass as usual and had the 11:30 Divine Liturgy. That's the simple way to describe a typical Sunday, but there is always more to it. He also had an end-of-life seminar to teach for future nurses right after the six thirty. Then, he picked up a visiting deacon and his wife so they could give meetings for possible future deacon candidates for our eparchy and then he went on to the eleven thirty an hour away. This week, we left the church early (the three-hour council meeting was a week ago), so we were all home at 5:30 PM.
I was starting dinner when the hospital called. Someone needed sacramental ministry. I offered to chauffeur him to make up for all the driving he had done already that day. I waited in the van while he went into the hospital to give sacraments.
While I waited, I was listening to 'Air One.' They were taking a break from the music and had a teen suicide prevention program going. The radio personality was interviewing a woman who was now working with a suicide prevention hotline. She had attempted suicide when she was seventeen. 
The radio personality asked her, "Were you a Christian when you attempted suicide?" She answered, "No, I wasn't. I would have told you I was a Christian. I went to services every Sunday and youth group, but I wasn't Christian. In all my years at that church, I never heard the Gospel preached once." 
I felt sick to my stomach. What does this mean? Could someone say the same about our Liturgy? Do people leave our services feeling like 'they haven't been fed?' Sometimes he preaches a little fire and brimstone, but usually my husband is the 'pastoral' type. Is he not hard enough with the people because he doesn't constantly preach on difficult subjects? One Sunday, I challenged him not to use the word 'invite' (as in- 'God is inviting you today'....) in his homily. His preaching always focuses on the epistle, Gospel, and applying it to our lives with some Church Fathers' teaching in the mix- either in a pastoral or fiery style. 
One part of the Church that I love is that there are no secrets. I can find out exactly what the Church teaches by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Pope's writings and other bishops are available to read. I can meditate on the life of Christ through the four decades of the Rosary. In the Byzantine rite, we have a rich tradition of vespers, akathists, changing troparions during the Divine Liturgy. 
If you keep your ears (and heart) open, there is so much to learn and grow from as a Christian. But faith is a gift. I pray that our micro-missions are 'successful' with bringing people to Christ, but all we can do is be faithful. 
a prayer for those who are struggling
O God, our help in time of need, Who are just and merciful, and Who inclines to the supplications of His people. Look down upon me and have mercy on me and deliver me from the trouble that now besets me. Deal with us not according to our iniquities, but according to Your manifold mercies, for we are the works of Your hands, and You know our weaknesses. I pray to you to grant me Your divine helping grace, and endow me with patience and strength to endure my hardships with complete submission to Your Will. Only You know our misery and sufferings, and to You, our only hope and refuge, I flee for relief and comfort, trusting in Your infinite love and compassion, that in due time, when You know best, You will deliver me from this trouble, and turn my distress into comfort. We then shall rejoice in Your mercy, and exalt and praise Your Holy Name, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


  1. Perhaps the teen who almost committed suicide used to attend an Evangelical Mega-church. Our megachurches here in the Philippines often preach more about having prosperity and such and such rather than following the Gospel to get to Heaven. In fact, once in a television station I've heard them preach during their worship services, and I was completely alienated with what they are saying and I asked myself, "What is this, a worship service or a business conference?". And please don't get me started with how they conduct their services.

    1. With you on this. I can't stand the "prosperity gospel".

    2. Kh Jen- I just don't 'get' the prosperity Gospel- it seems to hinge on Old testament texts- ignoring the actual words of Jesus Christ!

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    1. Oh, and by the way, love the iconostasis in the picture. A fine example of mixing some good modern elements in ancient church architecture.

  3. I can say without a doubt that I'm fed at the Byzantine Liturgy.....the person in question was probablly attending a protestant chapel more than likely.

  4. This is what the New Evangelization is all about and without each of us experiencing an ongoing new Pentecost people will not "hear" the gosple in our churches. A church exists to evangelize but without no real ongoing encounter with the Holy Spirit it is not possible to "hear" in that church. It doesnt matter how well the Liturgy is done or what kind. Hearing th gosple is not a skill based on the liturgy. Its a personal experince that comes from the people that manifest a burning desire for Jesus Christ.As St. Gregory of Nyssa emphasized about baptim it has no power if we do not ourslves make an active effort to particpate in God's grace. Likewise the power of the Litrugy to evangelize become mute if we are not as a church making use of its power to proclaim the gosple.

  5. My reaction to that quote is a bit different from yours. Whenever I hear someone say that they went to church their whole lives and "never heard the Gospel," they are taking sides in certain Protestant debates. Those words are code for "I went to a mainline church, but now I've seen the light and attend a Baptist/ Reformed/ evangelical/ nondenominational church." The Gospel typically referenced is not what you as a Catholic are thinking of. It's the idea that Jesus died so that God could take out His anger and wrath on His son, but God's still got plenty of wrath where that came from unless you repeat a certain set of words, a "Sinner's Prayer," and believe that there is nothing you can do to earn your salvation. Folks I knew who said this didn't think Catholics were even Christian. Of course this woman may not have meant this, but that's typically what's behind those words.

    Was there ever and office of, The Pastor, approved of or mentioned in New Testament Scripture? No, there was not. There was no single pastor appointed as the authority over any local church congregation.

    The word pastor is mention one time. (Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (NKJV)
    Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (ESV)

    Pastors were shepherds. Bishops, elders, and overseers are one and the same; and they were the pastors or shepherds.

    1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; (NKJV)
    1 Timothy 3:2 So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. (New Living Bible)
    1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (New International Version)

    Titus 1:5-7....appoint elders in every city....7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, (NKJV)
    Titus 1:7 Since an overseer manages God's households, he must be blameless--not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.(NIV)
    Titus 1:7 An elder is a manager of God's household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. (NLT)

    Acts 20:17,28 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (NKJV)
    Acts 20:28 Pay attention to yourselves and to the entire flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishops to be shepherdsfor God's church which he acquired with his own blood. (God's Word-Translation)

    Notice that the apostle Paul called for the elders (plural), he did call for The Pastor (singular).

    Acts 14:23 So when they had appointed elders in every church,and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

    The apostle Paul and Barnabas appointed elders (plural) in every church congregation. They did not appoint a pastor (singular) in every church congregation.

    Elders, bishops, and overseers are the same office and their responsibilities were to pastor or shepherd the individual church congregations.


    Men today like to called Reverend Pastor.
    Reverend means awesome. So they want you to refer to them as Awesome Pastor.

    Psalms 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. (KJV)

    The Lord has earned the right to be called reverend (awesome).
    Is there any man that has earned the right to be called Reverend (awesome) Pastor?





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