Friday, May 29, 2009

The Challenge

As I look at the current culture and the impact that institutional Christianity has or does not have on it, I'm struck with some "odd notions".

The first is that our world is experiencing accelerating change, which in itself is a neutral thing. However, it causes a faster antiquation of new media ideas and deployments.

What this means to the Church is that, though it will never lose its core value, its perceived immediate relevance can be damaged by an outdated delivery of a message that is not core and foundational. Further, a lack of understanding of the latest use and methods of new media can well make the Church's message appear to be "last century" (which at least on its face it in fact is).

It has long been a joke in the media world that "Contemporary Christian" music uses styles that are 10 years behind the secular culture. Though this is really no longer true, as the secular culture has been in a process of deterioration for the last 10 years (sadly), its perception has remained entrenched. Contemporary Catholic music, a later media arrival, is even further behind.

Our current delivery method is in actuality speaking to the older generations, the ones still in the pews; but we've yet to learn how to speak to the younger generations in a manner that they would be interested in listening to. In a world that is increasingly noisy, wordbytes are what we have to start with. And most of our wordbytes have been negative: anti-this, anti-that... a message that falls on deaf ears, literally, in this generation that is looking for positive hope wherever they can find it.

C. S. Lewis once said that we need less Christian art and more Christian artists who are creatively expressing their art. The gist is that the Christian virtues are better spread by acting upon them in what you do rather than talking specifically about them. St. Paul says in his letter to the Phillippians: "Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things."

Lastly, St. Irenaeus said in the 2rd Century: Man fully alive is the glory of God.

So, if Paul and Irenaeus and C. S. Lewis are correct, then the proper function of Christians in the arts is to be fully alive and to pursue whatever is lovely and of good report to the fullest extent of their artfulness.
Only then can we expect this generation to LISTEN. This is the current challenge, and we are up to it!

Bob Metivier
copyright 2009, Robert G. Metivier

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter (Year 1)
May 28, 2009

*Today's Readings:*
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Ps 16:1-2a, 5, 7-11
Luke 17:20-26


*What is required to answer the prayer of Jesus?*

After I became Catholic in 1977, I read today's Gospel passage and said, "Wow Jesus, your prayer is taking a long time to get answered! The number of break-away denominations just keep multiplying." And seeing divisive behavior within the Catholic Church, I've said, "Wow
Jesus, your prayer isn't even being answered here!"

Or maybe I was just looking for the answer in the wrong places. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning", and that unity "subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose" (see para. 820). It's a gift. It's not something that we make happen; it's already ours. "But the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her."

The unity we have in the Catholic Church comes from accepting that Christ is the head and that he chose to lead us through Saint Peter and all the popes and bishops who came from his line of ordination; despite their imperfections and sins. Our unity comes from the Church Magisterium's protection of and explanations of the teachings of Christ, and if we choose to remain in unity with Christ by learning from the Magisterium, Jesus protects us from false teachings and worldly compromises.

We divide ourselves from the Church when we disregard or misuse Church teachings. Every teaching issued by the Magisterium has love as its goal and scripture as its foundation. More often than not, however, when we reject them, it's not to be divisive; it's simply because we don't understand their value. The most common example of this is the teaching against using artificial birth control. Many Catholics disregard it, because they fail to research it enough to discover how it enhances their ability to love, which includes, if we want to be Christ-like, self-sacrifice.

What about the ways that Catholics are divided from Protestants? Can Christ's prayer be answered even while we're divided from one another in worship and in doctrinal issues? Yes! Unity does not mean "agreement." His prayer is answered in the way we LOVE one another. As it says in the Catechism, para. 815, the bond of unity is the love that "binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col. 3:14)". Harmony isn't accomplished by everyone singing the same notes. Harmony requires diversity in mutual service under the guidance of the Music Director. And you know, Catholics and Protestants have the same Music Director!

See also the Good News WordByte on Pope Benedict's desire for unity (2005):

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Good News Reflection
Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
May 26, 2009

Today's Memorial: Saint Philip Neri

Pray for a spirit of joy and laughter

Today's Readings:

Acts 20:17-27
Ps 68:10-11, 20-21 (with 33a)
John 17:1-11a

Finishing the work despite hardships

If we could foresee the hardships that lay ahead of us on our paths of service in the kingdom of God, we'd come up with good excuses not to do it. (Hey, we do that already, just by imagining possible hardships! No wonder there are so many of us who do so little ministry or volunteer services or fighting against injustices.)

As we see in today's first reading, St. Paul knew that going to Jerusalem would mean "chains and hardships", so why did he go? Wouldn't he be just as useful to the Lord if he stayed where he was accepted and appreciated?

Back in 1996, as I was praising God for the Good News Evangelization School that we were holding in my parish, I felt God ask me, "Are you willing to suffer to become a better minister for my kingdom?" I wrestled with him over that until he reminded me: "I'm safe. Trust me." And thus began a series of chains and hardships that have not yet ended. And today, I am very grateful for them all!

St. Paul trusted God, even while he knew that he was not safe from those who would imprison him and eventually kill him for preaching the truth. What makes a person willing to say yes to God's calling when it's a certainty that it won't always be easy and fun, when being safe in God does not mean being safe from persecution and hardships?

Paul answered this question. He said, "I put no value on my life. I only value finishing the service that the Lord Jesus has assigned to me." Jesus also answered it in today's Gospel passage: "I have given you glory, Father, by accomplishing the work you gave me to do."

Which matters more: your life (your comfort, your security, your freedom from problems) or God's work, which he gave you to accomplish and which no one else can do the way you can do it? — work that you were specifically designed to do, work that will fulfill you more than anything other activities.

We all have our assignments. You are in the middle of a very important one right now. Recognize the worth of what you're doing; notice how it glorifies God, how it makes a difference for his kingdom. If you don't see the difference yet, well, notice the difference it's made in you as it's helped to shape you more into the image of Christ. Realize the value of your hardships: how they're increasing your holiness, your compassion, and your ability to help others.

My sufferings, as distressing as they have been sometimes, have greatly enhanced the ministries I do now. They account for many of the insights that I share with you in these daily Good News Reflections. Don't focus on the hardships; keep your eyes on the goal — the finish line, heaven — and on the Lord for whom you're doing this. If we quit, we forfeit our souls to the world, where we are not safe at all. Only in God are we truly safe. He kisses our nail wounds and raises us above the trials into his warm embrace and cozy lap, where we are always safely loved.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica; All Rights Reserved.

To share this with others, see our
copyright permission page.

Renew the Face of the Earth

Lord Send out Your Spirit In commemoration of the completion of the Year of St. Paul! Check out for higher resolution versions!