Offense or the Defense?

Yesterday was the final session of the four-week Adult Faith Formation program we ran at Our  Lady of Lourdes, titled Jesus Speaks.  In the first session of the series, I talked about Jesus response to the question which commandment of the law is the greatest; in the second session, Fr. Dan Griffith spoke on Jesus’ instruction in the feeding of the multitude, “You yourselves give them something to each; in the third session, our teaching seminarian Grant Theis spoke about Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man, to whom he instructs, “Sell all you have and give to the poor.”  In our final session yesterday, Deacon Thom Winninger closed out the series speaking about the command to “go and Proclaim the Gospel to all nations.”

The command to proclaim the Gospel is a universal one, which means that we all must reflect on what it is we are called to proclaim and what it is that inhibits us from wholeheartedly following the command.  Thom made the point that if we can’t define what it is we are called to proclaim, we can’t very well do an effective job.

In talking about what it means to proclaim the Gospel, Thom suggested that many Catholics today are defensive about their faith, whereas Jesus was never defensive; he always affirmatively preached the Kingdom.  A defensive response, Thom argued, is not a proclamation of the Gospel.

He made a related point in talking about prayer.  Don’t pray not to sin; that is defensive.  Instead, he suggested pray to grow in virtue, an affirmative prayer; if we grow in virtue, that will lead us away from sin.

While I need to think some more about his offense/defense distinction and how far it takes us, it seemed to me worth sharing, especially since I think he is correct that many Christians today are defensive about their faith.

Note: Each of the sessions of the series was video-recorded and will soon be available on the parish website.

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4 thoughts on “Offense or the Defense?

  1. Thank you Susan for sharing. . .

    Deacon Winninger’s message is worth much prayer and discernment, and the ‘goal’ of a new evangelism deserves as much, if not more, prayer and discernment.

    Sadly, many most defensive about the faith are ‘stewards’ of the (their) faith. . .

  2. Moses is no.
    Jesus is yes.
    Moses is the prohibitive law.
    Jesus is the affirmative law.

    You cannot ever become what you do not do.
    (The result of the practices of Moses)
    You can only ever become what you do.
    (The result of the practices of Jesus)

    They both want the same thing for you, their only difference is the ‘how’.

  3. “Don’t pray not to sin; that is defensive. Instead, he suggested pray to grow in virtue, an affirmative prayer; if we grow in virtue that will lead us away from sin.”

    Until our hearts are opened completely, proclaiming the Gospel remains within walls erected to defend, protect and – sadly often separate. Restricting (protecting) the ‘Word’ from being shared within places, hearts and minds often declared (pre-judged) as unworthy was challenged bravely by Paul. Like Paul, we must welcomed everyone, including Evil. . .

    Evil cannot survive in the ‘Light’ and only in the light will faith fully take hold, grow in virtue and yield the blessings promised.

    Why would any Catholic, individual or couple, fear stepping out of the shadows and into the light before Jesus and profess (share) their use of artificial contraception? Darkness may conceal the usage of contraception from the church, though not from God. Why defend silently in shadows of the heart? Let light shine upon the (their) life lived. A cautioning Church is most supportive, a condemning Church is suppressive. Only our Creator knows our hearts and if our actions have enabled us to grow in virtue.

    Similarly at the end of earthly life if we are to be judged on how we loved, why would a Catholic once wed who has been abandoned, or abused physically, sexually and whose safety remains endangered by their (declared, though currently anything but) spouse fear inviting Jesus to their second (secular) wedding consummated in the light – declaring their love for another a second time and fully aware that their love shared anew continues to illuminate a life visible (and hopefully continually growing in virtue) and a life open to a final accounting of the’ whole’ of life on the day of reckoning?

    Spousal abuse is most often committed in darkness, often ensnaring the abused to a life lived fearfully in darkness – where Gospel messages initially embraced are often smothered by the same darkness, a darkness that holds back the light required for love and faith’s growth. Would not a merciful return to Sacramental illumination, under very specific conditions, not further the growth of faith and of love – including new love?

    The first Eucharist, celebrated in evening privacy, foretold of the following day’s ultimate sacrifice offered in the light of day, which overcame the afternoon shroud of death’s darkness with the illumination of Easter’s Sun rise.

    As Christians, when will we find the courage to tear off the roofs and break down the walls of too many churches that celebrate the Eucharist in shadows illuminated by light sourced from wax and wick, or electricity? The Eucharist was intended to be celebrated in the light. The sun’s cleansing rays of light await our coming together as the One Body of Christ to celebrate His ultimate Sacrifice as brothers and sister we are all called to be.

    Fear of the Lord dissipates when stepping into the light. Bring forth and illuminate Gospel messages intended to build up God’s family on earth and begin to tear down the walls that divide, mend the bridges that separate, and fashion and build-up the inclusive faith we are all called to embrace and share.

    There is more that joins us one to the other than separates. In life as we listen for His message and the hand of God to orchestrate, may He not be awaiting our hands and hearts to be joined in cause common? – “Love each other as I have loved you.”

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