Friday 24th June 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Kerygma, Didache, And The New Evangelization

June 20, 2014 Frontpage No Comments
christ

By PHILIP TROWER

Some of the things our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been saying since he became Pope about the way the faith should be presented and taught as a preamble to the new evangelization have unquestionably ruffled a few feathers. However, I have increasingly come to think that there would be less misunderstanding if more people were aware of a development that has been taking place in the Church’s thinking and teaching on this subject over the last 50 years. This development seems to have begun at the time of Vatican II, and, in a modified form, has been accepted by subsequent Popes and episcopal synods.
But only, I would say, in the last few years has a significant section of the theologically-minded faithful become aware of it.
It involves making a distinction, when considering or talking about the Church’s beliefs, teachings, and practices, between what are now called the kerygma and the didache, both Greek words.
Kerygma, which carries with it the idea of a herald blowing a trumpet to announce or proclaim some important news, is used to describe what are held to be the most characteristic features of the initial apostolic teaching or “proclamation.” The apostles and the first generation of Christians were not propagating a religious philosophy, based purely on human reason and human wisdom like that, say, of Confucius. They were announcing a message of salvation achieved by a Divine-Human Person, whose witnesses and representatives they claimed to be.
The point is made with particular force by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians. With characteristic irony, the Apostle to the Gentiles there describes what he is preaching or proclaiming as “the foolishness of God” in contrast to the “wisdom” or philosophy admired by the Greeks.
The apostles were heralds of a supernatural mystery having crucial implications for the whole human race, past, present, and to come; a message requiring a response from the heart and will as much as an intellectual assent by the mind. “Repent and believe the Gospel.” “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Rather than proposing a system of religious beliefs and ideas, the apostolic kerygma, one could say, is announcing a series of astonishing natural-supernatural facts of recent origin.
Explaining or justifying the facts is the role of didache, or the detailed religious instruction we now call catechetics.  This is given after the proclamation of the message has, with the help of grace, and in some cases miracles, been accepted. Didache has its origin in the fact that the kerygma or initial apostolic proclamation is not all self-explanatory or systematically organized.
Almost as soon as the proclamation has been heard and accepted, the new Christian starts to ask questions: Why, how, or “when you say such and such, what does it mean”? And the attempts to answer these questions, as they have been put to the Church down the ages by succeeding generations, have given rise to those great storehouses of the Church’s dogmatic, doctrinal, and theological teaching — the works of the Church Fathers, the acts of her councils, the Summae of the medieval scholastics and so on, or that most recent addition, the Catechism of the Catholic Church — which are one of the glories of her existence.
The kerygma or initial apostolic proclamation, its range and style, are best seen and appreciated in the Acts of the Apostles, better indeed than in the Gospels which go way beyond it. And important to remember too is that for its first audiences the kerygma was not something totally unheard of. The apostles were addressing Jews and telling them about their long-awaited Messiah. For the Jews the proclamation was mainly about the fulfillment of prophecies. It was only after St. Peter’s visit to Cornelius and the turning to the Gentiles that the kerygma became a complete novelty for the majority of its hearers.
The first people to think of making this distinction between kerygma and didache were the Protestant theologian Rudolph Bultmann and an associate called Dodd for reasons which it is not necessary to go into in this article.
The only point I will make here is that, in the hands of thinkers hostile to Catholic belief and practice, distinguishing between the kerygma and the didache can be and has been used as a way of devaluing or dismissing much or all of the latter. The kerygma alone is important. The rest of what passes for Christian belief and teaching is mostly just man-made stuff.
Included in this category of doctrinal iconoclasts one regretfully has to place Catholic theologians who, since the Second Vatican Council, have been anxious to get the Church to drop, change, or adapt this or that one of her teachings. However, other theologians, those with a genuinely Catholic cast of mind, have seen in the kerygma-didache distinction a means of overcoming what they consider had become a too-rationalistic presentation of the faith.
From the Catholic standpoint, as we shall see in a moment, kerygma and didache are not in opposition. They are to be seen as complementary, fulfilling different roles or needing more or less emphasis in varying circumstances. Put at its simplest one could say that emphasis on the apostolic kerygma is considered best for the evangelization of new peoples who have never heard of Christianity, or the de-Christianized populations of the West, many of whom are now equally ignorant. Didache comes in once they are established in the faith in degrees and forms suited to their level of education and culture.
With too much didache too soon or in too much detail, it is felt, the faith can lose its freshness and come to seem like a philosophy. The challenging nature of what is preached loses its force and the elements of mystery and the supernatural fade. A missionary, for instance, preaching the Gospel to a new people for the first time, does not begin with a string of arguments for proving the existence of God, or a list of quotations from the fathers and doctors of the Church in support of belief in the Real Presence. Were he to do so, the beauty and, dare I say it, “magic” of what he was saying would cease to be felt.
This, judging by some of his off-the-cuff remarks, is, I would suggest, the view of Pope Francis. There is an affinity, it seems to me, between what he has been saying on this subject and the reactions of Thomas à Kempis and the adherents of the 15th-century movement known as the devotio moderna to late medieval scholasticism. (Thomas à Kempis is the author of the Imitation of Christ.)
How much of the didache, or the totality of the Church’s teachings, should the faithful be expected to know? Pius XII, I seem to remember, said it should be on a level with the rest of their education. So if they have been to a college of any kind or are IT experts that would mean they ought certainly to be able to understand the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its longer or shorter forms.
A story, I recall, from the life of St. Francis of Assisi throws a nice light on the question. When a poor old woman said to him that it surely wasn’t necessary for her to know a lot of theology to get to Heaven, his reply was roughly, “Not for you, but it is for the Church.”
The key point in the thinking of those members of the Magisterium who are for promoting the kerygmatic approach seems to be that the faithful should never be allowed to fall into thinking that being a Catholic means, first and foremost, belonging to an institution with a set of rules and regulations to be obeyed, and providing certain goods and services mysteriously necessary if one is to spend eternity in the right place. An outlook of this kind can only be the path to routine, tepidity, loss of the young, and the death of any missionary spirit.
If on the other hand the young can be persuaded or convinced that as Catholics they have been called by an all-loving Creator to be His agents in propagating a message about a supernatural mystery of crucial importance for the whole human race, and to help Him to activate it, the situation is surely more likely to be different. Being a Catholic is, in essence, being caught up into this awe-inspiring supernatural mystery. It is this kind of outlook which the kerygma, as we have it in Scripture and tradition, has kept alive in each generation.
As for guidelines for activating the mystery, we have the fact that we share in our Lord’s threefold office of prophet, priest, and king. The prophetic office calls us to be witnesses to the truth, natural and supernatural, at all times and in all circumstances. Our priestly office is well summarized by St. Peter in his first epistle and in the third eucharistic prayer. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Thus St. Peter. And the third eucharistic prayer? “You never cease to gather a people to yourself so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.” As for fulfilling our kingly role, I would say it amounts to fulfilling what Holy Mother Church calls the “duties of our state” as fully and faithfully as possible.
Here now are some relevant quotations from the recently canonized John Paul II and from the 2012 Synod on Evangelization.
John Paul II: “The vital core of the new evangelization must be a clear and unequivocal proclamation (kerygma) of the person of Jesus Christ, that is, the preaching of his name, his teaching, his life, his promises and the Kingdom which he has gained for us by his Paschal Mystery.”
“In the complex reality of mission, initial proclamation has a central and irreplaceable role, since it introduces man ‘into the mystery of the love of God, who invites him to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ’ and opens the way to conversion. Faith is born of preaching, and every ecclesial community draws its origin and life from the personal response of each believer to that preaching. Just as the whole economy of salvation has its center in Christ, so too all missionary activity is directed to the proclamation of his mystery” (Redemptoris Missio).
“The subject of proclamation is Christ who was crucified, died, and is risen: through him is accomplished our full and authentic liberation from evil, sin, and death; through him God bestows ‘new life’ that is divine and eternal. This is the ‘Good News’ which changes man and his history, and which all peoples have a right to hear” (Redemptoris Missio).
“Thus through catechesis the Gospel kerygma (the initial, ardent proclamation by which a person is one day overwhelmed and brought to the decision to trust himself to Christ) is gradually deepened, developed in its implicit consequences, explained in language that includes an appeal to reason, and channeled toward Christian practice in the Church and in the world” (Catechesi Tradendae, n. 25).
The many texts by Pope Benedict emphasizing that the faith is first and foremost entering into a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ are of the same order. And here is the 2012 Synod on Evangelization.
“The ‘first proclamation’ is where the kerygma, the message of salvation of the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ is proclaimed with great spiritual power to the point of bringing about repentance of sin, conversion of hearts, and a decision of faith. At the same time there has to be continuity between first proclamation and catechesis which instructs us in the deposit of faith.”
The synod fathers then recommend “a pastoral plan of initial proclamation, teaching a living encounter with Jesus Christ.” This pastoral plan would include “systematic teaching on the kerygma in Scripture and Tradition…teachings and quotations from the missionary saints and martyrs in our Catholic history that would assist us in our pastoral challenges today,” and “guidelines for the formation of Catholic evangelization today.”
What is most noteworthy, I think, about all these quotations is that, while recognizing a distinction between an apostolic kerygma and its subsequent development into a systematically organized didache, the authors do not see in this any grounds for decrying the importance of the latter or excluding the role of reason.
This is in marked contrast with a distinguished Catholic author I read recently who seems to have been swept off his feet by his discovery of the kerygmatic approach. To my astonishment he claims that we should no longer say, “The Church teaches.” We should only say, “The Gospel says. . . .”
This would be understandable in a good Christian evangelical brought up to believe in Luther’s sola Scriptura as the sole source of divine Revelation. But it can hardly be the starting point for a Catholic “new evangelization.” For Catholics the Church is Christ living and teaching through it in the here and now. The person comes before the message.
However, I don’t want to end on a negative note.
Like so much in the Church and the faith, getting the right relationship between kerygma and didache is a matter of keeping what at first sight appear to be complementary opposites in balance. God’s justice and mercy are not conflicting realities. Nor are kerygma and didache, or the roles of faith and reason.
Also worth comment, I think, is that with its belief in the Real Presence, its practice of reserving the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, and its encouraging of eucharistic adoration, the Church provides its children with a means of developing a personal relationship with Christ incomparably superior to any other.
To sum up, what the Magisterium would appear to have been saying on the subject of this article amounts to this. The didache or fully developed teaching of the Church must never be presented in such a way that its luxuriance or symphonic grandeur overshadows or makes inaudible the apostolic proclamation which is its heart and soul.

+    +    +

(Philip Trower, a longtime contributor to The Wanderer, is the author of Turmoil & Truth: The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church and Danger to the State: A Historical Novel. He lives in England.)

wandererad(3)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Catholic Bishops Blast Obama Admin for Forcing Churches to Pay for Abortions

The leading pro-life spokesmen for the Catholic bishops are blasting an Obama administration decision revoking federal protection for chruches in California forced to pay for abortions. As LifeNews reported, churches in California are officially subject to an onerous state regulation…Continue Reading

Church Leaders React to Supreme Tie on DAPA/DACA

Catholic leaders from around the country were expressing disappointment today in response to a Supreme Court tie vote that effectively terminates Obama administration initiatives on immigration that shielded millions from deportation. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, described…Continue Reading

Catholic universities must insure abortion, Obama administration rules

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama administration has ruled against two Catholic universities, upholding a rule issued by the state of California requiring all employers to cover elective abortions in their insurance plans – even if the…Continue Reading

Progressive Catholic groups publish “Pope Francis” voter guide

While the IRS revoked the non-profit status of the George Soros-subsidized Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) in October 2013 for failing to file a form 990 for three consecutive years, the organization recently re-emerged with a progressive…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Most Catholic marriages are null, some ‘cohabitations’ are ‘real marriage’

June 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis spoke yesterday at a pastoral congress on the family for the Diocese of Rome, and his remarks are causing consternation among faithful Catholics. In off-the-cuff remarks, the pope made the dual claim that…Continue Reading

From Fox News . . .Enough is enough, Pope Francis should resign

By Adam Shaw ·Published June 17, 2016 · FoxNews.com Pope Francis’s three-year-old papacy, marred by controversy from the beginning, has hit a new low. After Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, he quickly justified his…Continue Reading

Florida Bishop Blames Orlando Massacre on Catholic ‘Contempt’ for Homosexuality

The Catholic Bishop of St. Petersburg, Fla, has blamed Catholic disapproval of homosexual acts for the brutal slaughter of 49 people in the Pulse nightclub on Sunday. In a blogpost Monday, Bishop Robert Lynch said that Catholicism “targets” and “often…Continue Reading

WATCH: Congresswoman Blasts Sales of Aborted Baby Parts in Explosive Speech Filled With Evidence

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler gave a recent speech on the flood of the House of Representatives blasting the sales of aborted baby parts. The member of the special panel investigating Planned Parenthood and the sales of aborted baby parts provided shocking…Continue Reading

Transgender bathroom debate: Lawmakers in Massachusetts pass bill allowing use of restrooms based on gender identity

The Massachusetts’ House of Representatives has passed a bathroom bill on Wednesday that will allow transgenders to use restrooms according to their gender identity. Voting 116-36, lawmakers passed the bill despite protests from people who went to the House to…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: Pope’s exhortation will lead to practice that ‘trivializes and profanes … three sacraments’

June 7, 2016 (Voice of the Family) — Bishop Athanasius Schneider has made his strongest comments yet on the “real spiritual danger” posed by the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The bishop said that the document contains expressions that are “objectively…Continue Reading

Kasich admin gives Planned Parenthood waiver to continue abortions in defiance of state law

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Cincinnati can continue performing abortions, despite the fact that it is breaking state law, because Gov. John Kasich’s administration issued a waiver. On Friday, Ohio Department of…Continue Reading

Amoris Laetitia is ‘objectively unclear’ since even bishops have conflicting interpretations: Cardinal Caffarra

ROME, May 30, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The cardinal tasked by Saint Pope John Paul II 36 years ago with founding an institute to study marriage and the family has criticized Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation on the family for lacking…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Today . . .

Pope Francis arrives in Armenia

popef99

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrived in Armenia’s capital Yerevan at 12.55 pm Rome time on Friday 24th June to begin his 14th apostolic journey abroad. Armenia is a landlocked mountainous nation which borders with to the west Turkey, to the East Azerbaijan, to the north Georgia and to the South Iran. He was warmly welcomed by the President of the nation’s Republic Serzh Sargsyn and the Catholicos of All Armenia Karekin II. Also present were…Continue Reading

Thomas Aquinas and the Art of Making a Public Argument

taqun

Zenit.org June 22, 2016•Bishop Robert Barron I would like to revisit a time when people knew how to have a public argument about the most hotly-contested matters … There is, in many quarters, increasing concern about the hyper-charged political correctness that has gripped our campuses and other forums of public conversation. Even great works of literature and philosophy – from Huckleberry Finn and Heart of Darkness to, believe it or not, Kant’s Critique of Pure…Continue Reading

Pope: All of Amoris Laetitia is ‘sound doctrine’; ban the death penalty

Francis doubles down on Amoris Laetitia In the wake of substantial criticisms of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis has stated that “everything” written in the document is “sound doctrine.” The remarks are especially pertinent in light of the first critical observations on the exhortation issued by Raymond Cardinal Burke which stressed that parts of the document were the Pope’s personal opinion and not to be taken as magisterial. Speaking at the opening of…Continue Reading

Valencia’s Card. Cañizares persecuted for defending nature, common sense against “gender theory”, homosexualist agenda

I was in Spain recently, having breakfast – as one does – and, while munching the ubiquitous toast with tomato looked up at the TV only to see a discussion of Card. Canizares Llovera and the trouble he was in for giving what sounded like a really good sermon in Valencia. I shot a photo of the screen… it I can find it… Since then the Cardinal’s problems have multiplied. BTW… he had the nickname…Continue Reading

Papal comments on cohabitation and civil marriage suggest a direction

June 18, 2016 11:51 EST Edward N. Peters The pope’s most recent comments on marriage point in a disturbing direction but let’s address two important matters first. Point One. Cohabitation is not marriage. Largely overlooked amid the furor caused by Pope Francis’ rash claim that “the great part of our sacramental marriages are null”—an assertion reckless if false (which it is) and brimming with despair if true (which it is not), a claim followed not…Continue Reading

Islam & The West: Irreconcilable Conflict?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN On Saturday night, June 11, Omar Mateen was a loner and a loser. Sunday, he was immortal, by his standards, a hero. Mateen had ended his life in a blaze of gunfire and glory. Now everybody knew his name. He had been embraced by ISIS. His face was on every TV…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “The First Time Around: Euthanasia In Nazi Germany”

germ2

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Step 2: Dehumanization The first…Continue Reading

Fr. Pavone Says . . . Trump Speech “Crystal Clear” Supporting Life, Religious Liberty

By DEXTER DUGGAN Presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an entire political-party structure behind him that is pro-life, so it’s not a matter of simply having to hope that Trump will follow pro-life principles, Fr. Frank Pavone told The Wanderer after attending an important Trump speech for social and religious conservatives. Pavone, national director…Continue Reading

We Should Not Aim For Purgatory

By JOHN YOUNG “I’ll be satisfied if I get to Purgatory.” I recently heard that statement from a Catholic, and I think that mindset is probably quite widespread. It may be said in a thoughtless way, or may even be a sign of humility, confessing that one is far from the holiness one should have.…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Principles Of Interpretation

By JUDE DOUGHERTY BOLD INSERT Polanyi, Michael. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, Enlarged Edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015. xxviii + 428 pp. This is an old book, first published in 1958 but still relevant, that the University of Chicago Press has seen fit to reproduce in a new edition with a…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. I just want to ask what James J. Drummey’s qualifications are for answering the questions that subscribers ask. Does he have a title or does he consult with an authority on these issues? — K.C., via e-mail. A. My qualifications for writing the Catholic Replies column for the past 25 years include reading, studying, pondering, praying, writing, speaking, and teaching…Continue Reading

Take Up Your Cross

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 66:10c-14 Gal. 6:14-18 Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 In the Gospel reading today we hear about the seventy-two men the Lord had sent out ahead of Him. He had given them authority to heal people and to expel demons. That sounds great, but when one actually sees it happen…Continue Reading

Benedict XVI On His 2011 Ordination Anniversary… Long Experience Of The Goodness Of The Lord

(Editor’s Note: Below we reprint the text of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily on his 60th anniversary of Ordination to the priesthood, given at St. Peter’s Basilica, June 29, 2011. The text is from the website of Catholic News Agency. (Pope Emeritus Benedict was preparing to celebrate the 65th anniversary of his Ordination as The Wanderer went to press this week.…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… “Mass, The Musical”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK I write to you shortly after the massacre in Orlando, witnessing the divisions that some are making in reaction to this great sin in the sight of God. Above all, and first of all, those who died are human beings, created lovingly by God in His image and likeness, and it is this truth we…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church . . . More On The Miraculous Apparitions Of Mary

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 5 “Contra factum non valet argumentum,” taught St. Thomas Aquinas. “It is useless to argue against facts.” When shallow-minded people smile and say that all private apparitions are just the result of self-hypnosis, or auto-suggestion, delirium, or hallucination, it is our time to smile at them. When 70,000 people in Fatima saw the sun…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Mother Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala

By CAROLE BRESLIN Which basilica in the country of Mexico has been visited by both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Francis? The Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. Like Our Lady of Guadalupe, the story of Our Lady of Zapopan begins in the year 1531. Beginning in 1531, the same year that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. John Francis Regis

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the late 16th century, Calvinism began to make significant advances in the Catholic population of France. More and more Catholics left the faith, or simply stopped going to Mass and practicing their faith. Then God sent a man to the French who preached tirelessly and then spent hours in the confessional, helping the penitents return to…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading