In my profile, I describe myself as being an "evangelical" Catholic priest. "Evangelical" is not a word normally ascribed to Catholic clergy as it has been, for better or worse, appropriated by those of the Pentecostal sects of the Christian family.
I would like to claim ownership of this term, but the credit belongs to Fr. Jay Scott Newman, the pastor of St. Mary's Church in Greenville, South Carolina (Diocese of Charleston). I have included at the end of this post a link to Fr. Scott's excellent webpage, but I include the eight principles of what he describes as Evangelical Catholicism- with great appreciation to him for encapsulating in them the essence of what I have always held to be my model of Catholicism and priesthood.
"During the nearly twenty-seven years of his pontificate, Pope John Paul the Great called the Church to the urgent mission of fulfilling the Great Commission in our time, a project he called the New Evangelization. This evangelical summons of John Paul continued the same call given to the Church by Pope Paul VI in the years of and after the Second Vatican Council, and now the same commitment to announcing the timeless truths of the Gospel with new ardor, new methods, and new conviction as Pope Benedict XVI asks."
"Another way of expressing our commitment of the work of the New Evangelization is to say that we must become Evangelical Catholics. By our Baptism, we are called to be men and women of the Gospel who are Christian disciples by conviction rather than mere Church members by convention. Being Evangelical Catholics requires that we know the Gospel, believe the Gospel, live the Gospel, and share the Gospel with others. Becoming an Evangelical Catholics is a lifelong adventure of letting go of the various counterfeit catholicisms of our time (casual, cultural, cafeteria Catholicism) by accepting the liberating truth of the Word of God and living by grace through faith in the Son of God."
"Evangelical Catholicism is not meant to be a movement within the Church, still less a sect or sub-set of Catholicism; it simply a way of understanding the vocation of every Christian to be a true disciple of and faithful witness to the Lord Jesus. I offer these principles as a catechetical tool in the service of helping the people of St. Mary’s to follow the Lord Jesus ever more faithfully in the Way of the Cross through radical conversion, deep fidelity, joyful discipleship, and courageous evangelism."
The Principles of Evangelical Catholicism
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the crucified and risen Savior of all mankind, and no human person can fully understand his life or find his dignity and destiny apart from a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It is not enough to know who Jesus is; we must know Jesus.
2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is divine revelation, not human wisdom, and the Gospel is given to us in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition which together constitute a single divine deposit of faith transmitted authentically and authoritatively by the Bishops in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. We must surrender our private judgments in all matters of faith and morals to the sacred teaching authority of the Church’s Magisterium. This is essential if we are to receive and proclaim the entirety of the Gospel.
3. The seven Sacraments of the New Covenant are divinely instituted instruments of grace given to the Church as the ordinary means of sanctification for believers. Receiving the Sacraments regularly and worthily is essential to the life of grace, and for this reason, faithful attendance at Sunday Mass every week (serious illness and necessary work aside) and regular Confession of sins are absolutely required for a life of authentic discipleship.
4. Through Word and Sacrament we are drawn by grace into a transforming union with the Lord Jesus, and having been justified by faith we are called to sanctification and equipped by the Holy Spirit for the good works of the new creation. We must, therefore, learn to live as faithful disciples and to reject whatever is contrary to the Gospel, the Good News of the Father’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
5. The sacred liturgy, through which the seven Sacraments are celebrated and the hours of praise are prayed, makes present to us the saving mysteries of the Lord Jesus. The liturgy must be celebrated in such a way that the truth of the Gospel, the beauty of sacred music, the dignity of ritual form, the solemnity of divine worship, and the fellowship of the baptized assembled to pray are kept together in organic unity.
6. Receiving the Sacraments without receiving the Gospel leads to superstition rather than living faith, and the Church must therefore take great care to ensure that those who receive the Sacraments also receive the Gospel in its integrity and entirety. Consequently, before Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, and Marriage are administered, there must be in those who request these Sacraments clear evidence of knowledge of the Gospel and a serious intention to live the Christian life.
7. Being a follower of Christ requires moving from being a Church member by convention to a Christian disciple by conviction. This transformation demands that we consciously accept the Gospel as the measure of our entire lives, rather than attempting to measure the Gospel by our experience. Personal knowledge of and devotion to Sacred Scripture are necessary for this transformation to occur through the obedience of faith, and there is no substitute for personal knowledge of the Bible. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.
8. All the baptized are sent in the Great Commission to be witnesses of Christ to others and must be equipped by the Church to teach the Gospel in word and deed. An essential dimension of true discipleship is the willingness to invite others to follow the Lord Jesus and the readiness to explain His Gospel.
Visit Fr. Scott's webpage at: http://web.mac.com/jayscottnewman/Site/A_Parish_Priest.html
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