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 President of the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
In 2014 he was recognized by Crain's Detroit 40 under 40.
You can read more about Jason here:
In 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:
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.
Do 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.
Every year at the Rite of Election in my diocese, the Bishop stands up and does an informal poll with those seeking to become Catholic at Easter. He asks them how many of them decided to become Catholic through reading Catholic literature or hearing or seeing Catholic radio and television? Some hands raise. He then asks them how many of them become Catholic because of someone they know? Every hand goes up!
In my journey to the Catholic Church, I did much research and read books and listened to tapes–all because of one person–Biff Rocha. While, my journey did not actually begin with Biff, he was there at a time when the questions came to a head and having been there himself was able to direct, guide, and point me to the resources and things I needed.
To many around the world she is known as Mary–the mother of God, the mother of Jesus. She was the girl who God loves, freeing her from the stain of sin. She is the girl whose “yes” changed the face of the world. She said “yes” when others would have asked questions, or rationalized. She said “yes” almost without thinking, for this was who she was created to be. She was the second Eve. She produced the fruit of a new tree, the tree of eternal life. And so with her “yes” God came into the world and she was trusted to guide Him, protect Him, and love Him. Mary’s life wasn’t without suffering and hardship though. She saw the nails pierce, she saw him hang upon the cross, and she saw Him die. This was who He was. This is what He was created for. And yet, we do not hear of her complaining or questioning. Tradition tells of a look between a mother and a son as Jesus carried His cross towards Calvary. A look and only a look–words were not expressed; everything was said. Who was consoling whom? Who was giving whom strength? They were there together, mother and Son, each having said “yes.” Mary was there at the beginning of Jesus’ life and now she would be there for the end. In a way, Mary walked to her Calvary. She suffered with her Son, she yearned to take His pain, and her heart ached as if pierced by a spear. When he died that day, so also did she. All of Christianity can be summed up as a love story between a mother and a son.
In an earlier post, I discussed the definational meaning of orthodox. In subsequent articles, I hope to lay out some of the guiding principles that define Catholic orthodoxy. The first being, how we understand and read the Second Vatican Council. (How did it become referred to as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II anyway? I think it would have been cooler to refer to it as “The Vatican Council: The Sequel.” I digress.)
If you have never read the documents of the Second Vatican Council – read them! The council is a gift and a blessing to the Church, and the documents are beautiful! We should embrace them, understand them, and get as many people to read them as we can. We should not run from the council or blame the council, but rather to be orthodox is to embrace the council, realizing that it is still being interpred and implemented. But, when you do pick up these documents, read it by the letter guided by the spirit for understanding and deeper reflection. This distinguishes orthodoxy from others who read the Second Vatican Council looking for what is written between the lines, or read it as a political account of the conversatives in the Roman Curia versus those progressives who wanted change. We don’t read it by the spirit, but rather we read it IN the Spirit. We don’t look for what is between the lines, but what is right there on the page. That is a huge difference.
There are many in the Church who would use terms such as liberal Catholics or conservative Catholics. But for me, these terms are not helpful. What I want and hope to be is in line with the Church– to be orthodox. Orthodox means right thinking, to have the heart and mind of the Church. Orthodox is a term I think we must use today. There used to be another word that we used–Catholic. Catholic means universal, but what is not often explained is that the word means universal in mission, but also universal in doctrine, right thinking. At one time, it was used to distinguish true believers, “Catholics,” against heretics. Because the word “Catholic” has become confusing with many wondering what type of Catholic you are and how you would define yourself, many might find the term “orthodox” as helpful– meaning you are in line with Church teaching and are open to correction if they error.
The economy is in the spotlight daily. It is discussed frequently on the news, on blogs, and around water coolers. There is a sense of anxiety and worry among many. We have tightened our wallets, reexamined our budgets, and many have had to look for new jobs. On a national level we have bailed out banks and companies at unprecedented levels. Perhaps one of the areas that has not been discussed is the impact the economy is having on life issues and is there a type of economy that protects life over another.
First, according to the Associated Press, there is an increase in abortions due to lack of money to pay for an abortion. Stephanie Poggi of the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps women in need pay for abortions, said calls to the network’s national helpline have nearly quadrupled from a year ago. “A lot of women who never thought they’d need help are turning to us,” Poggi said. “They’re telling us, ‘I’ve already put off paying my rent, my electric bill. I’m cutting back on my food.’ They’ve run through all the options.”
Caritas et Veritas is the name of our new Catholic blog. We hope to bring both love and truth simultaneously and in every post – rooted in the teachings of the Church, and with a genuine hope to bring these teachings and perspectives to others in a manner that is interesting, charitable, and fun. To speak love and truth can be difficult at times, and frankly, in my life, sometimes the most loving thing is the outright, blunt truth.
We, like you, are in a process of continual conversion. It is our desire to teach from the heart of the Church. But, the writings and the individual opinions and approaches expressed are our own and as such are open to correction and development. Together we come from academic and pastoral backgrounds and we hope to bring a balance of both to you in our postings.
We encourage you to join with us in dialogue and to participate in a fruitful, meaningful discussion. It is also important for you, the reader, to know that the authors are friends– some of us having become Catholic and some of us reverting back to the Church. I can remember staying up talking many nights about Christianity and Catholicism in college with these friends and in many ways this blog is a continuation of that conversation started many years ago after some time of reflection, schooling, and differing experiences. We welcome you to that conversation and encourage you to check back often.