Category Archives: Full Disclosure Evangelism

On the road to sainthood and not silent about it

hypocrites in church

I had an interesting conversation with a podcast listener about a week ago.  They had listened to some of the podcasts and were accusing me of being “holier than thou” when in fact I was a hypocrite.  Their conclusion was that I was in no position to tell anyone anything related to faith and morals because of my own imperfections.

Were they right?

Saints did not get that way because God zapped them and suddenly all their imperfections were gone.  They are saints because they cooperated with the grace of God and grew in holiness.  Read their stories.  You’ll find real people with real struggles.  You’ll also find that they were still sharing their faith as they struggled.  People didn’t only start listening to them after they had been canonized saints by the Church.  Folks were listening to them the whole time, even in the tough times.

Here’s what I have to say to the ones wishing to point out my faults.  Do I have them?  Loads of imperfections and lots of mistakes are mine on a near daily basis.  Here’s the difference: I don’t claim perfection.  In fact, I tend to use my constant idiocy as proof that God’s grace and mercy still work.  Listen to the podcast often enough and you’ll hear it.  His discipline and correction in my life is proof to me that God still loves me and wants me to be part of his kingdom.  Otherwise, He’d leave me alone to pursue whatever and end up dead and separated from Him forever.  But He doesn’t.

I’m not perfect.  I sin often.  But I go to confession.  I do penance.  I work at growing in holiness.  All the while I share the faith. I’m fortunate to have been taught a great deal by the saints, my pastors, my spiritual director, and scads of good books.  When I fail I cannot plead ignorance.  So I struggle on.  God has been good to me, not only to forgive me and put me on the right path, but also to provide me with a community in which to grow.

For those who wish to be left alone and not be faced with a moral obligation, be it from me, the Pope, or anyone else, let me encourage you to avoid isolation.  Let me further encourage you to seek Christian community where you can be challenged to be the person you were created to be.  Community makes the difference, and you need it as much as I do.

Chances are good that there are opportunities for building community in your home parish, and there are good places online to find additional folks to help you with whatever you might be facing.  Of course, you can always hook up with us at The Tactical Catholic Podcast or any of the programs at the Fiat Ministry Network.  We would love to talk to you, pray with you, and get to know you.  Just don’t go at it alone.

And don’t wait until you’re perfect before you share your faith.  Your real struggles might be the key to helping someone else find the hope they need.

 

Personal Piety vs the Missal

I feel as though sometimes people pit the Missal (and the General Instruction on the Roman Missal) against their own personal piety as well as their own tastes.  Truth be told, there is a great deal of flexibility in the Mass.  All one has to do is read the Missal and the GIRM to see this.  That is not to say that Mass is a free-for-all.  Far from it.  There is a proper form and proper matter to the Mass.  Within these constructs there is freedom and choice.  For example, there are several different Eucharistic Prayers that may be employed in a Mass.  The Prayer of the Faithful is guided but not dictated.  The music is not specified.  There’s some room, folks.

So maybe you can feel me when I say that equating your choices and your likes with “the voice of God” is a dumb thing to do.  I’ve never been to a Mass in which every single thing tickled my fancy.  I don’t always like the music, or the lector’s pace, or the homily, or the choice of crucifix, or the type of kneeler.  But you know what?  I don’t come to Mass for any of those things.  No, they are tools in the hands of the Lord to move me toward the source and summit which is the Eucharist.  Christ is going to show up.  He has promised us that.  Even if someone intended to attempt invalidation, God still supplies the grace.  It’s on their head, not yours or mine.  I am here to receive Jesus.  Keep your steel guitar.

Let’s talk about gestures, shall we?  Do you bow your head at the name of Jesus or cross yourself at varied times during the Mass?  There are some times that the faithful are instructed to do so (beginning and ending of Mass signs of the cross, bowing during the three lines in the Creed regarding the Incarnation) but there is no rule prohibiting you from crossing yourself at other times.  In fact, I’m often baffled that folks at Mass seem to be more vigilent about crossing themselves before the Gospel (a sign prescribed for the Deacon/Priest/Bishop at that time) and holding hands during the our Father (not prescribed at all) than bowing for the Incarnation in the Creed, “…and by the power of the Holy Spirit, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” which is prescribed.  I say, be as pious as you wanna be, just so long as you keep the main thing the main thing.

If an extra crossing here and there and holding your neighbor’s hand helps you draw nearer to our Eucharistic Lord, then go for it.  We all need to do all we can to prepare our hearts to receive Him.  Don’t get bent out of shape, however, if your neighbor has his hands together in prayer during the Our Father, or that he chooses to kneel and pray after Mass.  Let’s keep the main thing the main thing, alright?

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On a side note, how did you do with your Easter Mass assignments?  I hope you were able to be the welcoming and kind face that visitors to your parish need to see.  May they be moved to return to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass next week and renew their faithful walk with Christ.

Look, Mom, I changed the view!

catholic men mentoringSo the site is sporting a newer look.  I realized that my photo of the swiss guard was not always loading well in the responsive design so here you go.  I don’t know what to call the new background except dark with some colors.  So far things look better with the dark/light contrast.  I hope you like it.

In the meantime, I’m working on my first batch of web reviews.  And while you wait for that, I’ve got a thought for you.

Remember yesterday’s Gospel reading?  In John 3, we see the tail end of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin.  You might say that Nick was a member of the supreme court.  So, here he is talking with Jesus under cover and out of sight.  How did his story end?  What do we know about him?  We don’t have a whole lot, but we do know that he and Joseph of Arimethea worked together to give Jesus a proper burial.  Not many other mentions of him until then, right?

It made me think of how a lot of us guys are often living our faith in the shadows.  Maybe we don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves.  Maybe we are scared of what others will think.  Maybe we are afraid we’ll lose our standing or our job.  In the west, that’s about as far as the fears go.  However, we are not given a spirit of timidity (see Paul’s letters to Timothy), nor are we meant to keep the light of Christ hidden (Matthew 5).  We are to be bold and unashamed witnesses of Jesus Christ.

So why aren’t you?

I dare say that until Nicodemus buried Jesus that few if any people knew he was a follower of Christ.  Do you really want people to show up at your funeral saying, “Huh?  Mass?  I didn’t know this guy was religious.”  Let me challenge you today to man up and live your faith like you mean it.  Embrace it.  Let Christ so permeate your being that others know by your actions and words that you are in communion with God and that He directs your life.  If you are living for Christ on a daily basis, you will draw others to Him.  That’s kind of the plan, my friends.

Let’s do it!

Tactical Catholic Podcast Episode 009: It’s great to be in the R-C-I-A

In Episode 009, we will lift the veil of mystery surrounding the RCIA. 

  • What is RCIA? 
  • What is it not? 
  • How should a parish run their RCIA? 
  • How does someone join the Catholic Church?
  • Who came up with the RCIA acronym?

Tonight, join us as we talk about the RCIA, the absurdity of relativism, how we can help our friends into the Catholic Church, and how real evangelization works.  It all starts LIVE at 9pm central time at Fiat Ministry Network.

Miss the show? Download the audio for free on iTunes and leave a review!

Tactical Catholic Podcast Episode 007 Preview: How to Share Your Faith

catholic bible

Tonight on the Tactical Catholic Podcast, we’ll be discussing practical ways that you can share your faith, as well as the ways you’re already sharing your faith (or lack of it) whether you know it or not.  I can pretty much guarantee you haven’t heard an evangelism discussion like the one we’ve got in store for tonight.  I can tell you just a few of our talking points, but I’m keeping some a secret because I can.

  • How to bring up spiritual things in a conversation without making the conversation awkward
  • How to handle disagreements in a conversation regarding Church teaching
  • How to use the Bible effectively for personal benefit and for evangelism
  • How to correct someone who does not understand Church teaching
  • How to deal with idiots
  • How to answer questions when you don’t know the answer straight away

This may end up being a two-parter, but I wanted to get the ball rolling because it is imperative that we take the time to share our Catholic Faith with the ones around us, starting with our family and our parish.  Yes, I said evangelize our parish.  We have an obligation to share the faith with everyone.  You’d think that sharing with family and parishoners would be simple, but usually they are the toughest groups to evangelize.  We’ll discuss that and a whole lot more tonight LIVE.

Join us tonight at 9pm central at Fiat Ministry Network

  • LIVE video podcast
  • LIVE chat with the host and guests via Chatwing
  • LIVE call in (440) 536-3650 via Skype

I look forward to talking to you tonight.  See you soon.

How do you share your faith?

friends share

Please share with us the ways you share your faith.

Where do you find yourself sharing your faith most often?

  • school
  • work
  • home
  • grocery store
  • bar

What challenges to your faith have you encountered?

  • ridicule
  • differing beliefs
  • lack of knowledge
  • rats

Tell us a cool story about a time recently when you have shared your faith.

Next week on the show we will be talking about ways we can share our faith. Evangelism is something I have been doing “professionally” for a couple of decades now, so I am confident I can offer some tips. More importantly, however, I want to hear from you. We are all in different environments, but our struggles cross those lines. Share, discuss, challenge, encourage.

Use the comboxes or drop us a line.

Are You Getting Anything Out of Mass?

Tactical Catholic was at Magnificat Day on Saturday in Memphis, Tennessee.  My wife and I are so blessed to have been there with so many amazing things going on.  I wanted to high five every single Dominican I could, but I honestly lost track there were so many.  The Order of Preachers was in full effect on Saturday and I’m so glad for it.  No offense to the many beautiful religious orders out there, but my heart is with the Dominican Order.  In fact, my current discernment is whether or not to join their Third Order as a layman.  But my fanboy attitude toward the St. Dominic and friends will have to wait, because I need to discuss the main point for today’s morning post. Read the rest of this entry

Evangelism Tip #BatmanSymbol: Honesty and Forthrightness

With November elections coming up next Tuesday, it is SUPER SUPER important that you guys get out and vote.  I personally believe that the future of this nation, more than ever, hangs in the balance of the next two elections.  Since election fever is in the air, thousands of political commercials are filling the media and the interwebs, seeking to influence your vote November 4th.  I have given this some thought and have prepared this mature statement.

STOP FARTING AROUND AND BE HONEST FOR PETE’S SAKE!

I apologize for such strong language, but it had to be said.

Today, I was able to have a very honest and informative dialogue with a co-worker about several of the issues critical to this election cycle.  In Tennessee, there are a lot of potential changes that will have huge impacts on the Volunteer State.  The two of us, not of the same faith, but respecting one another as fellow men, were able to discuss these issues.  Sometimes we disagreed, but more often we agreed.  The point I wish to make here is that both of us took the time to listen to the viewpoint of the other rather than merely wait for our time to speak.  There was no need to pounce on the other man with a ridicule of his argument.  Rather, we voiced our opinions and convictions while the other listened.  The goal was understanding.

Why would I do this?  Why would any of us do this?

Far too often, we are content to “know” what the “opposition” thinks, when what we are really striving against is a media portrayal or a slanted point of view.  When we take the time to listen to the real reasons a person holds to their convictions we come to a fuller understanding of them as human beings.  We gain perspective and we show mutual respect.  I dare say that anybody who only listens to the political media circus would EVER understand the other side.  Commercials seem to be designed to deceive, yes even the conservative ones.  It is my conviction that if you do not believe something strong enough to be honest about it, keep your mouth shut.  Nobody wants your bait and switch, and everybody can see your lie.  In the end, you do a greater disservice by being deceitful, even if you are intending to spare someone’s feelings.  There is always a tactful way to speak without being an arse.

Catholics, if we will take the time to understand what is at stake each election and know the candidates and their true positions, we can do great good to help our fellow man.  Following a party line or believing the talking heads on TV is a fool’s game and part of the reason we end up with poor leaders in office.  Be honest.  Be respectful.  Be informed.

RCIA: How a Year-Round Model Works

More and more parishes are seeing the benefits of engaging a year round RCIA, but some pastors are hesitant. They pause because they likely have never seen it in action. What does a year round RCIA look like? Read the rest of this entry

Turning the Key of Effective Evangelism

In my previous article, I mentioned the need for forthrightness and honesty when it comes to sharing the faith.  The focus was personal transparency.  We must show the lived reality of Christ in our lives if we expect others to take it seriously.  We are not salesmen, we are evangelists!

But wait, there’s more!

We have to have full disclosure of the Gospel itself.

What?

We must present the fullness of the Gospel.  There is no sense in presenting part of the truth and hiding the less savory parts.  What do I mean?

I could go on for a long time on the specifics, but let me summarize a couple of critical points.  If you are a child of God, you should know that by virtue of your baptism into Christ’s death that you are DEAD to sin and its power.  That means that you should be choosing to do good and not giving in to temptation as you formerly did.  What’s more, you are called to perfection.  Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

Now, you could pretend that sin is somehow redefined once you become a Christian, but you’d be lying.  Sin is very real and the temptations will increase if they do anything.  So what’s the man of God to do?  He must daily put on the armor of God and choose virtue over sin and against the world.  Let me tell you, it’s hard work and the more temptation you allow yourself to be subject to, the more tired you’ll be.  The good part of this story is that, like a good coach, God has given you everything you need to overcome the temptation and avoid sin.  BUT, it’s not passive.  You must choose and you must walk in holiness.  We don’t hear that often do we?  We hear about mercy and forgiveness, and we need that, but we also need to keep ourselves pure.  After all, we are called to total union with God and what relation does God have with sin?  Read your catechism and your Bible for details.  This article is focused on the reality for total disclosure.

What else is part of the Faith?  Love.  Real love is at the core of who we are as Christians.  Real love is sacrifice and that means we choose the good of another over our own good.  This is most perfectly expressed in marriage.  In matrimony, the husband completely lays down his life for his wife, and she completely lays down her life for her husband.  This is done in spite of feelings, appearances, circumstances, finances, self-justification, etc.  That kind of living takes courage, because we want things for ourselves.  Total self-giving love, folks, is difficult.  Need a quick example?  Sex.  The marital embrace is not designed for pleasure.  It is pleasurable to be sure, but its design is for unity and procreation.  Any attempt to remove one or both purposes turns sex into a mutual masturbation session, in which spouses use one another for physical pleasure.  Grossed out?  You should be.  Sex is beautiful and the natural products of the marital embrace are unity and procreation.  That means we should not be surprised when new life comes from our union.  That was God’s plan.  To say “we don’t want kids” or “we want to _____ before we think about kids” betrays a lack of understanding of what marriage is about.  Sacrifice for the good of another.  We sacrifice our vacations, our plans, our hobbies, our whatever for the good of someone we might not even see for 9 months.  If you’re not ready for life, you’re not ready to get married.  If you think you wanna get married and then spend all your time away from your kid(s), you’re gonna pay for that later and you won’t like the way the bill comes.  Love is sacrifice.  A good premarital counselor will start there and not with curtain color or “compatibility” tests.  A good counselor will have the balls to say “You’re not ready and I won’t marry you until you are.”

By the way, you’ll never be prepared for every eventuality of this life, especially marriage, but when you make those vows, man you are agreeing to lay down everything for this woman.  It’s not a permit for sex, it’s a beginning of total self giving on a whole new level.  In fact, the self giving should be evident long before rings are bought.

But I’m not talking about marriage either.  Hmm.  Good articles for later.  Boy howdy, have I learned a lot the hard way.

So guys, when we share Jesus, we have to be forthright and disclose the reality that Christians are a persecuted people, a people who love fiercely, a people who stand for what’s right even when others do not.  We have always stood in contrast against the ways of this world.  The Christian life is difficult and very often devoid of emotional “consoltations”.  However, in the Christian life we are given LIFE by the God who made us.  We are given GRACE to strengthen us to do the things we must do.  We are given FORGIVENESS and MERCY to pick us back up when we fall.  We have HOPE in a future of eternity with God.  We have a FAMILY that spans human history through the CHURCH here on earth and in Heaven.

You can share all of this.  You can share your struggles.  You can share your victories.  You WILL share Jesus one way or another.  Like Jesus’ challenge in the sermon on the mount, “Let your light shine before men IN SUCH A WAY that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)