All posts by Jason Shanks

A convert to the Catholic faith, Jason Shanks was raised Methodist. During college at Miami University of Ohio, he became active in an evangelical Protestant organization and began investigating the beliefs of Protestantism. This investigation ultimately led him, much to his surprise, to the Catholic Church. Jason sites his discovery of the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist as the ultimate turning point of his conversion process, saying, “I knew then, I had to be Catholic.” Since his conversion in 1999, Jason has worked in many areas of ministry, but he finds speaking with groups on various issues of faith to be the most rewarding. Jason has held positions as a youth minister in the Catholic Church, a pastoral associate, a parish administrator, was President of Greater Columbus Right to Life for two years where he received an award for his work. In addition, he was the Secretariat Leader for Evangelization and Parish Life for the Diocese of Toledo. He has published articles in Catholic magazines and newspapers, and has spoken to various groups and ages about the Catholic faith. Jason has a Masters in Theology from the Pontifical College Josephinum with a concentration in Evangelization. Later he would go on to receive a Master in Nonprofit Administration from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. Currently he is the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan. You can read more about Jason here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shanksjason

Organic Family Planning

NFP is 100% natural, has no artificial preservatives, is completely organic and is the only green option!

Organic CertifiedIn my working with couples preparing to be married I have discovered that while many of them know that the Church is “against” birth control, pre-maritial sex, and cohabitation, they have no idea why. They hear the Church saying, “No, no, no” but are not taught what the Church is for and what the Church is saying, “Yes, yes, yes” to. The couples seem to believe the Church is out of touch and out to lunch on these issues. And they certainly have never heard that within marriage there is an alternative that embraces the openness to life, and allows the couple to be a discerning, co-creator with God.  This alternative is called Natural Family Planning (NFP).

However, one of the many reasons I give, as a male working with couples, is that Natural Family Planning is pro-women.  It respects the femininity of the female and does not ask her to be something she is not.  In articulating my point, I have changed the name from “Natural Family Planning” to “Organic Family Planning.”  I even joke that my wife and I are “Organic Certified” and I have thoughts of producing t-shirts to wear to that effect.

Homily of Pope Benedict XVI Beatification of Pope John Paul II

Pope Benedict Kissing Relic of Blessed JPII

“Man Is the Way of the Church, and Christ Is the Way of Man”

HOMILY OF POPE BENEDICT XVI
BEATIFICATION OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
ST PETER’S SQUARE
1 MAY 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!

To Love Neighbor, Find Neighbor

As Christians we are called to “love our neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31)  Too often, however, as we become more and more engaged with our faith and the community where we worship, our neighbor tends to look more and more like us.  As humans, our tendency is to hang out with those who share our passions, worldview, and goals for life.  Our small group interactions are with Christians like ourselves and before we know it all our friends are Christians.  We fill our time with activites that are faith based narrowing our network to those that agree with us and our worldview. 

And the irony is that for those that take their faith seriously and that of their surrounding network they have a desire to live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), but they have no immediate network to actively do so outside of “cold calling.”  To be a Great Commission people, we need to expand our network of friends and associates beyond our Christian ones.  To do so demands an intentional effort on our part to make friends beyond our inner circle.  How do we do this?  We do this by getting involved in activities (not sinful) that enable us to meet new people and expand our sphere of influence.  In secular terms this is called “networking.”  For the Christian, proper networking could have eternal significance. 

Measuring Successful Parish Ministry

measuringMy background is in theology and in nonprofit business/administration.  As such, I have sought ways to combine the best business practices within ministry.  And, with that in mind, I have wanted to “measure” what makes a successful parish.  What can we examine and evaulate to deem that a parish is doing well and another is not.  Or are we just to throw everything up to,  “We will see the fruits in heaven?”  There are many things we can analyze: offertory, mass attendance, number of baptisms and weddings, etc.  While these would give us some perspective into the success of the parish, I think that they can be attributed (good or bad) to other factors outside of the parishes control.  And, in some cases, I think these are additional by-products or secondary measurements caused by good catechesis and evangelization. 

The two measurable areas that I think one could use to gauge a successful parish are the  number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life and the size of ones Rite of Christian Initiation Program (R.C.I.A.). 

Evangelization: Let Us Define

shepherds hear gospelIn my two previous posts on evangelization, I focused on our need to both proclaim the gospel and to witness to it in our very lives.  I discussed its ontological nature, in that evangelization, goes to who the Church is as Church.  I also discussed that for evangelization to be effective in our world that real, true, and visible unity among God’s people is essential and I made an argument for ecumenism as a necessary means to evangelize. 

In this post, I thought it might be helpful to examine the word “evangelization” and what exactly it means.  Evangelization in its original Greek means to bring or announce good news, to preach or proclaim as glad tidings.  In its nonbiblical, Graeco-Roman usage it described the public proclamation of significant events such as an announcement of the Emperor Augustus’ birthday, “the birthday of the god [=emperor] was for the world the beginning of joyful tidings (evangelia) which have been proclaimed on his account.” 1  Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [now Pope Benedict XVI] explores this meaning of “gospel” showing how it relates to the kingdom that Jesus ushers in:

Ecumenical Evangelization

In my last post, I discussed that evangelization goes to the essence of who the Church is as Church.  The missionary mandate that Christ gives is not something added to the nature of the Church; the Church is missionary in its very nature.  It is intrinsic to who we are and thus evangelization has an ontological focus.  It is, in the words of Ad Gentes, a “universal sacrament of salvation.”  And, as a Church we need to constantly be of renewal and a visible witness to the salvific love of Christ.  We also need to proclaim the “good news” of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. 

I wanted to emphasis our need to “share” our faith because I do believe that for many within the Catholic Church, this is a foreign concept.  We have come to view evangelization as simply doing good and being good.  The sense that we need to articulate and express our faith is a stretch for many within the Church.  There are many reasons for this due to confusions regarding questions of salvation, Rahner’s “anonymous Christian,” grace versus nature, the necessity of the Church for salvation, and what about those people who never hear or come to know Jesus.  These questions are just a sampling of some of the underpinnings that need to be explained for the Catholic faithful to again capture the evangelization fervor of Pentecost. 

Evangelization: Who We Are As Church

saint-paul-preaching-in-athens-3511-mid1Do you know what is the nature of the Church? You might come up with various answers, but when the Church asks who are we at our very nature, it responds–missionary.1 Evangelization is at the core of who we are as Church–to go out!

Orthodoxy is necessary for evangelization to occur. Without it, one hasn’t anything to share, but their own conjecture and opinion. Without orthodoxy, there is nothing to share, and no need to share it. For evangelization to have meaning there is a necessary precursor of catholicity (right thinking-truth, fullness of faith and universal mission). Evangelization is about conversion of hearts, leading others to Christ through word and proclamation, into his visible body, the Church.