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.
My dear friend Taylor Marshall has recently published a fantastic new book entitled: The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. This is a book for anyone interested in understanding Catholic teachings and practices more, and particularly their biblical and Jewish roots. The book is clear and accessible to a wide range of readers, and it is beautifully written. Its orientation is certainly popular, but the scholarship that went into producing this text is apparent in the text itself as well as in the endnotes which conclude each chapter. I would recommend this book to both Catholics and non-Catholics. It is a quick and enjoyable read (I had difficulty putting it down when I first began reading it—I’ve read it twice already and am looking forward to reading it a third time when I am able).
The Crucified Rabbi is available for only $14.95 from Amazon.com. Marshall’s book encompasses a wide-range of topics exploring their OT and Jewish roots: Jesus’ messiahship; Mary as Queen mother of the fulfilled Davidic kingdom (the Church); the papacy; Catholic view of baptism; the Mass and the Eucharist; Catholic priesthood; priestly vestments; cathedrals; parishes; monasticism; Catholic views on marriage; holy days and the liturgical calendar; Saints; and the afterlife. His book also includes a very helpful appendix which lists over 300 OT passages Marshall believes Jesus fulfilled in His NT life and mission. His bibliography includes both useful scholarly and popular works for further reading. This book is a must read.
In the Catholic Church, Masses are celebrated every day of the year (except Good Friday when only Communion Services are held), and from the Lectionary, Bible passages are read, on a liturgical cycle, every day at these liturgical celebrations [the readings for the day may be found here. My wife and I used to be members of an adult education group at our old parish in Dayton, Ohio, which hosts short reflections on each of the day’s readings [available here]. My wife and I each still usually write two reflections a week for their website. I try to provide points of application at the end of my reflections. Often, I’ve had people come up to me and ask how we lay people are supposed to put some of these applications into practice: how are we to pray continually? How are we to share our faith? How can we devote our lives to serving others day-to-day? I’ve often encountered objections like the following: sure, I could pray continually if I were a monk or nun in a monastery. Sure, I could share my faith with others if I were a full-time missionary, like a religious brother or sister in some foreign country. Sure, I could devote my life to service if I were a Franciscan. But what about those of us who stay at home all day with children? What about those of us who work long hours in our various occupations, with computers or in manual labor or in other professions?
In this post I’m moving first to Mark’s Gospel before looking at any other major books or passages of the NT because the tradition of the early church, following the testimony of Papias (preserved for us by Eusebius) is that Mark’s Gospel is a summary of Peter’s preaching in Rome. What is interesting about this view is that the general contours of Mark’s Gospel follow the general outline of Peter’s preaching recorded in the Book of Acts. If you take a look, for example, at Acts 10:36-43, we see that Peter begins his preaching about Jesus with Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Of all four Gospels, only Mark begins in this way. Moreover, in 1 Peter 5:13, we find Peter referencing a “Mark” as his travelling companion, both of whom send their greetings from Rome.
The Petrine nature of Mark’s Gospel, although dismissed by most scholars, is noted by Dr. Richard Bauckham. Dr. Bauckham points out that,
Since Matthew’s Gospel has a special interest in Peter…it is very noteworthy that Mark mentions Peter by name considerably more frequently than Matthew does. Furthermore—a point of considerable importance for our argument that Mark’s Gospel claims Peter as its principal eyewitness source—Peter is actually present through a large portion of the narrative….1
Dr. Gary Anderson is Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at the University of Notre Dame and is quickly becoming one of the world’s leading scholars of Second Temple Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls and especially of biblical interpretation among early Jews and early Christians. He is also a Protestant convert to Catholicism. He earned a B.A. from Albion College, an M.Div. from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
Dr. Anderson was raised Protestant and in fact entered Duke University as a Protestant seminarian. He writes some brief autobiographical insights in his important book The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination. He tells how important studying church history at Duke University under such giants as Dr. David Steinmetz helped point him in the direction of the Catholic Church. He eventually entered the Roman Catholic Church and became one of the leading Catholic scholars of early biblical interpretation.
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.
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I always considered myself Catholic. For my family being Catholic consisted in being baptized and attending Mass on Christmas and Easter, but most of all, we were Catholic because we were Italian. I took the typical Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes and was confirmed. In high school, nearly all of my friends were Catholic, but again this had more to do with the fact that they were Italian, Czech, German, Polish, etc, than anything else. Few of the people at Mass could explain Church doctrine, and fewer still knew the reasons why we believed as we did.
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.