Before I venture forth, the title above might be misleading to some Catholics who are well aware of Ignatian spirituality. Its definition for spiritual poverty: that being the complete dependence upon God. Ignatian spirituality wants the complete emptying of ourselves so that God might fill us. The spiritual poverty I refer to is the lack of centricity with the holy Spirit, or God Himself.
I recently participated in a Life Teen proclamation in the Youth Ministry of my parish. This proclamation, titled Beggar, had a goal, and I’ll let Life Teen’s own words state it:
“The goal of Beggar is to help teenagers understand that Jesus identifies with the poor, marginalized, and outcast because He was one of them. The teens are also challenged to recognize Jesus in those on the periphery of their own lives.” Continue reading The Poor in Spirit
I happened upon a blog post during a recent and rare trip to New Advent; a Catholic site with an amazing assortment of subject matter and an archive of wonder. I say “rare” only in that I do grow tired of its futile emancipation of things incredibly shallow in nature. I can read only so many times, “9 Reasons Why Pope Francis Likes Vegetables”, before I want to throw up my vegetables.
Anyways, having gone through the Catholic RCIA program in 2013, that’s the Rite of Christian Initiation for all of you non-Catholics, I found this post of good interest. I’d have to say in regards to my own experience with RCIA, that it was far less frustrating than the type of one imagined in this post. It was, nonetheless, similar with the writer’s experience in the fact that the program I went through seemed to offer up nothing as an examination of why I ever came to RCIA and the Catholic Church to begin with. What was my motive? Why the Catholic Church and not the Latter Day Saints or the Assembly of God? Had I been called or was I searching? Was there any metaphysical substance within me that sought the here-and-now, just as much as the there-and-later?
Continue reading Is There a Christian Way?
God’s Biological Society – The Family
The first component, and an obstacle to the secularist goal, is the authority of the genetic family. There is no continuation of the species of man without procreation. As such, it is the physical center of humanity and has been such since man climbed out of the mud of the bog. With such an understanding, all cultures in the past have naturally delegated authority to the family; first to the father and mother, second to the community, third to the state, and so on. It had always been a fundamental practice that generated opportunity and stability for all, and despite its frequent inequities due to the abuse of authority by self-centered individuals and groups – a condition that exits in all authorities across all philosophies – it is a proven model. It works because that is God’s creative plan and it is His genetic formula for created man.
Secular man sees another model; one not based upon genetics, but rather upon desires. The first is stable and evolves at a pace that society bears easily and without notice. The second is continually disruptive by nature for it gives preference to immediate and temporal desires, and redistributes resources, which had been acquired through the stability of the family structure, to those who have not had to work for those resources. The secularist, in pursuit of providing resources for the impulse of feelings and desires, has to separate work from reward. Individuals and groups that had spent their lives working for what they thought was theirs, are left to watch those things of value taken away from them and given to another individual or group so that a new desire may flourish. Institutions that struggled for generations in order to reach the higher echelons of quality provisions for specific purposes have found their successful programs sacked and redefined by those who merely desired what that institution earned and offered, and saw no reason why they should have to meet the very requirements that made the institution desirable to them to begin with. The secularist creed is, “Take what you choose not to earn or accomplish”. Continue reading The Rights of Evil – Part 7.
“Without individuals, nothing happens; without institutions, nothing survives.” Talleyrand
This quote cracked some eggs in my budding life as a new Christian and missionary. (As a side, it is of some humor to me that this quote came from the mouth of a man of royal background, priestly inclination, a diplomat at heart, a Prime Minister of France, a womanizer, a voluptuary, and the “lame devil”.)
By Who’s Authority
My first three years at New Hope Ministries were spent in praise & worship of a God whose call finally overcame all of the obstacles I had placed between us. During that time a theological education became the order of process to shape my faith, and the challenging world of missionary and evangelical efforts became my realization of what real faith produces; work. In this process I slowly discovered that I was increasingly on an entrepreneurial path – more of a voluntary association with New Hope Ministries, or a sodality as the Catholic Church would call it – rather than in union with the church; a union where the Pastor and church administration was clearly involved, and any volunteer role was clearly defined as secondary and not primary to the mission’s survival. In truth, though, my church engaged little through its own efforts to pursue mission and evangelical work that had to be reached by walking out the doors of the church. “Efforts” were the enterprise of individuals and small groups that defined needs, initiated plans, and executed activities independent of, but with the sanction from the church administration. If I, or some other volunteer, did not do “it”, “it” would not get done. In a word, I found this “depressing” and somehow lacking in what my theological education was shouting at me. Continue reading My Road to the Catholic Faith
I’ve discussed much the importance of witnessing, as I feel it is the backbone of Christianity. God has created us as a social creature; meant to live and love as a community. Witnessing is that simple and most elegant order of communication that brings us together as one body in Christ. Throughout my first two years of being a new Christian, I have tasked myself to seeking the liberty of witnessing my faith to others. Each of us are unique and so it is that we find our own expression of witnessing as we are most comfortable, but it is mandatory that we seek God’s comfort and not our own as our inclined demeanors can bring us quite short of our true potential to witness. We should always seek that potential and never be content with the easy.
As I matured in my Christian faith, it began to become a reality that God was calling me to more than my easy witness; that stretch of my hand first, then my arm. God wanted more from me; to show me His power within me and His desire that I use His measure as He has allotted it, not as I might choose to use it. He wanted me to reach out with both arms, and so I knew this growth needed to be sought.
Kathryn & I have been most fortunate that our growth in Christ had been greatly funded by a few small, lay ministries that were in our church. One such is Patricia Hilliard Ministries. Patricia is one of God’s encouragers; as a friend, a Life Coach, a speaker and teacher, and as a fearless missionary. We have both benefited from those gifts within her, and through her encouragement we have grown as God has intended us to do so.
In July 2011, we found that growth opportunity to reach out with both arms to witness through an evangelical mission trip to Puntarenas, Costa Rica; one Patricia had developed in association with Cal Montenegro of Shepherd Network. This trip would take twelve missionaries into the neighborhoods of a port city on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, with the purpose of witnessing God’s Word in our lives and exhorting the citizens of this city to consistently seek out Christ in their lives. It would be a four-day, non-stop push into multiple local churches, a hospital, an orphanage, a prison, both a men’s and women’s conferences, and finally to an open-air church on the top of a mountain. Morning, afternoon, and evening became appointments on our calendar. Continue reading The Willing Tree – Our Mission to Puntarenas