Friday 3rd July 2015

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

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare subsidies

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld ObamaCare subsidies nationwide, in the second major court victory for President Obama on his signature health care law. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that subsidies are valid even in states that did…Continue Reading

Synod on the Family’s working document sets the stage for spirited discussion

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2015 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- That the discussion at October’s Synod on the Family is going to be a lively one is indicated by the fact that the most controversial paragraphs of the final report…Continue Reading

Abortion Drone Will Fly Dangerous Abortion Pills to Poland to Violate Its Pro-Life Laws

drone

The pro-abortion organization that formerly ran the abortion boat that distributed the dangerous abortion pill in international waters outside pro-life nations that protect unborn children has come up with a new marketing scheme to push abortion in pro-life nations: drones.…Continue Reading

St. Louis’ Catholic Archbishop Carlson discusses same-sex marriage, clergy sex abuse, racism, more

At their annual spring meeting held in St. Louis last week, U.S Catholic bishops discussed several issues currently facing the Catholic Church, including: the clergy sex abuse scandal, what the Church sees as challenges to marriage, and the pope’s upcoming…Continue Reading

Nienstedt resigns; New Jersey bishop named interim head of Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Archbishop John Nienstedt has resigned in the wake of criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for its “role in failing to protect children and contribution to the unspeakable harm” experienced by victims in priest sex-abuse cases. Nienstedt says…Continue Reading

Priests needed: As Church growth explodes worldwide, parishes can’t keep up

Washington D.C., Jun 12, 2015 / 05:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The global Catholic population is growing – so quickly, in fact, that priest and parish numbers cannot keep up, says a new study on trends in the worldwide Church. And…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper hints at new ‘Vatican II’ strategy to gain approval of Communion proposal

June 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In the face of increasing opposition to his plan to approve giving Holy Communion to people who are in adulterous remarriages, Cardinal Walter Kasper is hinting at a new “Vatican II” strategy for accomplishing his…Continue Reading

No Law Can Be Based on Injustice

In 2010, the United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was designed by President Obama and Congressional leaders to expand access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage in the United States. After the law…Continue Reading

Cardinal: Divorced and remarried Catholics need support for conversion, not changes on communion

Catholics who have divorced and remarried need help for the “difficult climb” of conversion and spiritual growth, not a change in Church practice on the reception of Holy Communion, a prominent cardinal said. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli summarized the advice of…Continue Reading

Obama: Without Catholic Nun We Would Not Have Gotten Obamacare Done

(CNSNews.com) – While addressing the Catholic Health Association Conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, President Barack Obama said that the Affordable Care Act—AKA Obamacare—would not have been enacted had it not been for Sister Carol Keehan, the president of the Catholic…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper Backpedals on Papal Endorsement of Controversial Proposal

Almost single-handedly one cleric has turned the Church’s teaching on Communion, marriage and divorce into an international debate. For decades, German Cardinal Walter Kasper has promoted a proposal to allow divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics to receive holy Communion after a period of…Continue Reading

The Body God Gave Us Doesn’t Lie

The latest tragic twist in the “Bruce Jenner saga” (more on that below) illustrates yet again one of the great errors of our day: the rejection of the truth that our bodies have something to tell us about who we are and…Continue Reading

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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

‘No Global’ author at Vatican event on climate and poverty reduction

(Vatican Radio) A Catholic climate scientist and a secular Jewish feminist formed an “unlikely alliance” in the Vatican press office on Wednesday to present a two day conference entitled ‘People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course’. The conference, which will take place at the Pontifical Augustinianum University in Rome, includes some 200 political, religious and civil society leaders from all continents who’ll be discussing Pope Francis’ new encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ in light of…Continue Reading

Cardinal Turkson on Laudato si’ and children

pope798

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on Tuesday addressed UNICEF House at the United Nations in New York. He spoke about the new Encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si’, and how it relates to children.   The full text of Cardinal Turkson’s remarks are blow   Remarks on Laudato si’ to Child-Focused Agencies UNICEF House, 30 June 2015 Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, President, Pontifical Council for…Continue Reading

U.S. decision to legalize same-sex “marriages” godless, sinful – Russian Church

Moscow, June 29, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church has appealed to all Russian advocates of the American model of governance, asking them to think twice about the consequences of the United States’ decision to legalize same-sex “marriages”. “The people who are into ‘democracy the American way’ and trying to reconcile it with traditional values need to think hard after this decision,” the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod…Continue Reading

Fr. Z Blog . . . Congratulations To His Eminence Cardinal Burke . . .

Today is His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke’s 40th anniversary of ordination to the sacred priesthood.  He was, I believe, ordained by Paul VI. That was a good day for the Church. Card. Burke is one of the kindest men alive and a great scholar of Holy Church’s law. I am sure that all of you will stop, right now, and say a prayer for him.

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The ‘Gay’ Case Against Abortion”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For electronic copies of previous articles on homosexual “marriage,” the special rights agenda, and the role of homosexuality in the Church crisis, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Feminists and political liberals have argued…Continue Reading

Protecting Hatred Preserves Freedom

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO The tragedy of a mass murder in Charleston, S.C., obviously motivated by racial hatred, has raised anew the issue of the lawfulness of the state expressing an opinion by flying a Confederate flag at the statehouse, and the constitutionality of the use of the First Amendment to protect hate speech and…Continue Reading

NATO-Russia Collision Ahead?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe: A Message to Russia,” ran the headline in The New York Times. “In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other heavy weapons for as many as…Continue Reading

The Myth Of Autonomy

By DONALD DeMARCO I Never Sang for My Father, a 1970 film based on Robert Anderson’s play by the same name, features a father who identifies himself as a “self-made man” who struggled hard for everything he achieved. Toward the end of the play, the father, now elderly and incapacitated, offers a desperate declaration of…Continue Reading

More On The Particular Judgment

By JAMES LIKOUDIS As pointed out in a previous article (The Wanderer, July 3, 2014, p. 8B), the “silence regarding this particular dogma from all too many pulpits together with funeral Masses that focus on celebrating the life of the deceased and are replete with eulogies (amounting to instant canonization) have tended to make the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Chosen By God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Amos 7:12-15 Eph. 1:3-14 Mark 6:7-13 In the first reading, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (the place of the original Temple of the Lord), chastises the Prophet Amos for preaching against the goings on in the House of God. The priest tells the prophet to go and make…Continue Reading

National Mass Recalls Anniversary of St. Columbanus… “Why Are You So Frightened, You Men Of Little Faith?”

ARMAGH, Northern Ireland (ZENIT) — A national Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the 14th centenary of St. Columbanus was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh on Sunday, June 21. Opening remarks were given by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, and the homily was given by Fr. Neil Collins. Following are the texts of both, provided by ZENIT News Agency.…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… Refuting Objections To The Spiritual Soul’s Existence

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 8 The reader will have noticed the progression of thinking in this new series of articles in The Wanderer: Instead of dealing with various topics rather randomly, the section consists of a series of articles in the format of lessons within a course. So, the first topic was the most basic one, that is,…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Holiness

By DON FIER For the past two weeks, we have been unpacking the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the first of her four marks, that she is one. Our Lord left no room for uncertainty when He said, “There shall be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16), nor did St. Paul when he proclaimed that…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Commenting on the Bruce Jenner fiasco in his usually perceptive way, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City said in a recent bulletin: “Anyone who can remain awake listening to the conversations of sedentary former athletes on ESPN is perhaps unable to think clearly on any subject of significance, but the declaration…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 2 With the outbreak of civil war in Spain and the attack on the Catholic Church, many priests and religious were martyred. The existing government changed the constitution to legalize persecution of the Church by closing Catholic schools, ceasing reparation payments, and suppressing religious discussion. Among other things, this helped lead to the secularization of society…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 God, in His loving Providence and perfect timing, gives the Church holy men and women to guide the Mystical Body of Christ. During the chaos of the Protestant revolt, he provided St. Ignatius and St. Teresa of Avila. At the beginning of the 20th century, as the lay faithful were being called to participate in…Continue Reading